In an unprecedented move the hugely popular game Fortnite has snubbed Google Play Store and will release Android versions of the game only through their own website.
The decision raises a number of questions, not least security issues but also the share of profits that Google demands. Epic, the game’s developer said the main reason for this move was Google’s 30% cut in their revenue, saving themselves millions.
There are two reasons for what we’re doing. First, we want a direct relationship with our customers wherever we can. On open platforms like PC and Android, it’s possible for them to get the software direct from us. We can be in contact with them and not have a third-party distributor in between.
The second motivation is the economics of the store ecosystem as it exists right now. there’s typically a 30/70 split, and from the 70%, the developer pays all the costs of developing the game, operating it, marketing it, acquiring users and everything else.
For most developers that eats up the majority of their revenue. We’re trying to make our software available to users in as economically efficient a way as possible. That means distributing the software directly to them, taking payment through Mastercard, Visa, PayPal and other options, and not having the store take 30%.- Tim Sweeney: CEO, Epic Games
While we are used to downloading software on desktop options from a number of sources, mobile operating systems have long acted as gatekeepers. This model was developed by Apple which controls everything run on its iPhones and iPads. In turn, Apple’s revenue from taking a cut from approved apps is substantial. Google has had a more open philosophy and allows Androids to run apps from third-party stores.
And while Google Play Store is hardly ideal the real fear concerning Epic’s move is in security as potentially millions of young people look to download Fortnite from third-party sites. Something experts have long recommended not to do.
Never shy in seeking exploitative situations, the fact that gamers will search for epicgames.com through a search engine will provide scammers a huge opportunity to push their malware to unsuspecting users through fake sites.
Likewise, some users may have to change their security settings to allow third-party downloads. Again, creating vulnerability to malware. Given that it was only recently that malware had been found in Fortnite cheating tools it is a certainty that hackers will exploit Epic’s decision.
Fortnite has been staggeringly successful. The game is free to download and runs on nearly all platforms. It is estimated more than 100 million people play the game. It makes its money through in-game currency that allows you to customise your character and it charges ‘battle passes’ that open up a wide variety of challenges within the game.
Image: Official GDC