Epic Games, makers of the uber-popular Fortnite: Battle Royale has confirmed that the game's Android version will not be available on the Google Play store. Instead, Epic will make an installer free to play games available on its site when released, probably soon. The decision is bold given the severity that the Play Store has on Android software distribution and Fortnite s popularity means that it has some worrying consequences for Google.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, in a Q + A with Eurogamer, said avoiding Google's 30% distribution fee is a major part of his company's motivation. In his words, the fee is "disproportionate to the cost of services that these stores perform, such as payment management, download bandwidth and customer service."
It sounds as much like a conversation war for other mobile developers to skip the Play Store and keep Google's cut for themselves. It's not that easy, because the Play Store offers outstanding exposure for even quite large game and software publishers. Fortnite s tremendous popularity ̵
At the same time, Epic decided to direct his audience away from the Play store can radically change how many users like Android. Android, unlike Apple's iOS, allows users to install third-party applications directly, a process commonly called page upload. It's not terribly complicated, and Epic's own installer is likely to make the process extra even.
Epic is also not the first major player to try to exploit the process of undermining Google's grip on the Android App Distribution Amazon, especially asking users to load their own Amazon Appstore. And there are many technically skilled users who are happy to take some extra steps to install homebrewed, pre-release or completely illegal apps. But Fortnite is particularly popular with users in the teens and twenties, and for many of them, it's likely a strange concept to install apps directly to a phone (or, for that matter, to a computer). Epic's decision to bypass the Play store opens its eyes to the possibilities, making it more appealing to publishers to deviate.
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This may actually be healthy for Android's brand awareness, as it demonstrates the system's openness and flexibility. On IOS, page loading programs outside Apple's app store are not even an option, and with increased digital monopoly anxiety, it can now be the moment Google can exploit that core difference. (19459007) Fortune has come to Google for any comments on Epic's message.
But there is a reason that Google built the Play Store in the first place: It's a big money maker and it's getting bigger. Revenues from the Play Store and Apple App Store jumped 35% between 2016 and 2017, with the Play store generating an estimated $ 20.1 billion in sales last year. If users get used to the idea of installing apps directly from publishers, the growth in that revenue may slow down or even reverse.
There are also risks for Fortnite players. As Eurogamer points out, which requires users to download and install the game from the web, it is likely that they will download a fake version loaded with malicious code. In fact, there were already examples of fake Fortnite downloads months before the actual Android version was near release. Sweeney says that "open platforms are an expression of freedom", but also that "with freedom comes responsibility" for users to be careful not to install software from trusted sources.
Recent months have offered many examples of the dangers of highly centralized and semi-curated digital ecosystems, from Amazon to Facebook. It suggests Epic's overthodox features and user accountability can be wholesome overall, especially since the Play Store itself has been a fairly common vector for malicious software. But for Google, it introduces a large dose of uncertainty.