Epic Games CEO explains why Fortnite is skipping Google Play for Android debut

Fortnite is coming to Android. But there’s some bad news for Fortnite fans – it won’t be coming on Google Play store, but via the official website.

tech Updated: Aug 06, 2018 10:00 IST
Kul Bhushan
Kul Bhushan
Hindustan Times
Fortnite,Fortnite Android,Fortnite For Android No Verification
Fortnite will come to Android but not without major trade offs.(Epic Games)

Fortnite is one of the most successful games of all time. Surprisingly, it’s yet to hit the biggest mobile operating system in the world – Android. Experts believe its arrival on Google’s mobile OS will provide a big impetus to the game and developers. But Fortnite’s arrival on Android is coming but with a major catch. For starters, it won’t be available on Google’s Play store.

This essentially means users will have to go to the official website, download the game APK (programme files) and install it on the phone, instead of visiting Play Store and downloading from the app store.

Skipping the Play Store means, users will have to install the game by going to Settings and allowing downloads from “untrusted sources” – Google’s statutory warning for unauthorised downloads and that the device could be susceptible to malware and all sorts of security and privacy threats.

As expected, the decision has drawn sharp criticism from fans and experts alike. But why Epic Games, the studio behind one of the most popular games of 2018, is doing so?

Google’s 30% cut, app economics

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeny blamed the “economics of the store ecosystem” which he further explains as a “30/70” split – 70 per cent for the developer.

“There’s typically a 30/70 split, and from the 70 per cent, 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 a store take 30 per cent,” he told VentureBeat.

“If you look at it, the stores on the smartphone platforms actually do very little. They’ll put ads up in front of your game. When you search for Fortnite on iOS you’ll often get PUBG or Minecraft ads. Whoever bought that ad in front of us is the top result when searching for Fortnite. It’s just a bad experience. Why not just make the game available direct to users, instead of having the store get between us and our customers and inject all kinds of cruft like that? It’s a general criticism I have of the smartphone platforms right now,” he added. ALSO READ: What made Fortnite a big success: Breaking down the secret formula

Fortnite is set to debut with Samsung Galaxy Note 9 on August 9 (Epic Games)

Android fragmentation challenge
It’s no secret that Android’s fragmentation problem is a major headache for app developers and even for Google. Despite many attempts like Android One and Android Go projects, the problem is far from being resolved.

Android fragmentation is essentially the different iterations of Android running on millions of Android devices around the world. This makes it difficult for app developers to build an application that is seamlessly compatible with older iterations of Android as well the latest one, and the future ones.

Tim Sweeny is hopeful Fortnite’s Android avatar will be compatible with the modern high-end phones running on the latest Android versions. But he admitted that most of the phones may not be compatible with the game at all.

“There’s a huge variety of OS versions and also a much wider range of hardware specs than any other device family, from a $30 phone you can buy in India to a $1,000 high-end device. The nature of Fortnite determined the direction here. Fortnite is the same game on all platforms, including high-end consoles and PCs. Fortnite is going to work on high-end Android devices. Of the 2.5 billion Android devices in the world or so, 300 million will run it well,” he added.

Fortnite on Android: More details
According to multiple reports, Fortnite is going to launch exclusively with Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, Galaxy Note 9. A latest report claims those who order Samsung Galaxy Note 9 will be eligible for 15,000 V-Bucks – the virtual currency that can be used for buying in-app items. The Galaxy Note 9 is scheduled to launch on August 9. ALSO READ: Samsung looks to ride on Fortnite’s success for its Galaxy Note 9 launch

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 12:29 IST