Fortnite’s upcoming launch on Android devices will bypass the Google Play store and will instead be offered directly to players through Epic Games’ own website and app.
“Epic wants to have a direct relationship with our customers on all platforms where that’s possible,” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney told The Verge in an email interview. “The great thing about the Internet and the digital revolution is that this is possible, now that physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required.”
Avoiding the Google Play store allows Epic Games to bypass the 30 percent cut Google takes from app sales.
“The 30 percent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 percent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games,” Sweeney said. “There’s a rationale for this on console where there’s enormous investment in hardware, often sold below cost, and marketing campaigns in broad partnership with publishers.”
Android is one of the few platforms where this sort of direct relationship Epic’s talking about is possible; the only other places Epic is able to avoid going through an official store of some sort are the Windows PC and Mac versions of Fortnite.
You currently can’t launch an app on iOS devices without going through Apple’s App Store, and game consoles like Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One force publishers to go through their official stores for both game downloads and the sale of in-game currency.
Sweeney told Eurogamer that if they could have released Fortnite directly to consumers on iOS devices, they would have.
The question is whether this method of distribution introduces more risk to the player; there is going to be a huge incentive for hackers to trick players into downloading malware instead of the game’s official installer. On the other hand, the game has the same problem on PC; the onus will be on the player to make sure they’re getting the game from a reputable source.