Fortnite is one of the most popular video games on the market right now, which makes it one of the only games that might have a chance of pulling off what developer Epic Games is planning to do next.

The company already offers Fortnite for PC, Mac, PlayStation, Xbox, and Switch. And Epic launched Fortnite for iOS a few months ago.

Now Fortnite plans to offer an Android version of the game, allowing gamers to play the Battle Royale game on their phones, tablets, and TV boxes. But in order to do that you’ll need to download the game from Epic’s website. It won’t be available from the Google Play Store.

The Verge reports that Epic gives a few reasons for that move. First, it gives the company a better chance to manage its relationship directly with users without going through an intermediary. Second, (and probably more importantly), Google takes a 30 percent cut of any purchases made through the Play Store.

Someone at Epic must have done the math and decided the company stood to lose more revenue to Google by distributing the game through the Play Store than it will lose from users unwilling to sideload the application downloaded from the Epic website.

Fortnite for iOS is distributed through the App Store. But that’s pretty much the only option for making games available to iPhone and iPad users. Apple doesn’t officially support installation of apps from other sources, and Epic probably doesn’t want to have to convince users to jailbreak their devices just so it can avoid giving Apple a portion of its revenue.

Android, on the other hand, has always supported installation of apps from “unknown sources.” It’s a feature that users typically have to manually enable in their device settings. But it does make it easier for developers to test apps before they’re uploaded to the Play Store, easier, for users to install apps that might not be available from the Play Store for one reason or another, and even for third-party app stores to exist.

That said, Google performs security scans for apps distributed through the Play Store, offers automatic updates, and gives users a simplified billing system, among other things. Google’s Play Games service can also save game data so it’s synchronized across devices, among other things.

All of which is to say, it’d probably be a dumb move for most developers to try distributing their apps and games outside of the Play Store. But Fortnite is already an incredibly popular game with a loyal fan base. Gamers who are already hooked might be willing to jump through a few unusual hoops in order to keep gaming on the go. And the popularity of the game could attract new users who don’t own a gaming PC or console, but might be willing to check out Fortnite on a phone.

It’ll be interesting to see how long Epic sticks to its guns though. If the game’s audience starts to dwindle in a year or two, would the company upload the game to Google Play to make it easier for users to find and install?

Making the game available for direct download does have at least one side benefit: Epic won’t have to offer a different version for Amazon’s Fire tablets. Amazon’s Fire OS is a fork of Google Android that is compatible with most Android applications… but which includes Amazon’s own Appstore rather than the Google Play Store. Fortunately, like other versions of Android, Fire OS supports installation of apps from unknown sources.

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12 replies on “Fortnite is coming to Android… but not to the Google Play Store”

  1. I think devs and firms doing this should pass savings in doing so to the users of the platforms that aren’t 100% walled gardens. And in general if they do use stores…prices should vary for end user from platform to platform based on the platform/stores take so folks know whose stores are the greediest.

  2. This is good news. Google is taking ridiculous fee’s and it’s about someone stood up to them. Why should Google get 30%, they’ve contributed nothing to the game. Any platform that takes more than 5% is just pure greed.

    1. Nothing? I could see arguing over Google’s proportion of the contribution, but are you actually saying that Google has absolutely no contribution to the development of the Android OS?

  3. From a security standpoint I am not a big fan of this, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out that Google is OK with this. It comes at a time that Google is getting a lot of flack from Europe about forcing users to use Google products.
    This will be a great example for them to use to show that users are not locked in.

    1. It is a bad example. Google’s problem is with OEMs, users have never been locked in.
      Also Google’s store offers minimal security advantage. Most of the dodgy apps are in there.

  4. What a terrible idea. Not looking forward to all the hacked Android phones because users turn off security to side load games like this. Of course all the anti-malware companies are really really happy about this.

    1. Are you using windows 10 S Mode as well??

      Same argument applies, but it is up to the developers to do what is best for them.

  5. I wonder if other studios will weigh this option – like Blizzard with Hearthstone. I’m surprised more third party walled gardens are not present within Android. My guess is if Amazon couldn’t succeed with their attempt has left other companies just to eat the 30%.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if game studios don’t create their own store and device synchronisation mechanism. Given we are likely to see device makers escape the clutches of Google alternative stores and APIs.

    2. The reason Amazon store wasn’t a bigger success, is because Google had rigged the game to begin with. Its Android Studio uses Google’s APIs automatically like the location services or play games cloud. And it’s extra work for devs to remove those APIs and replace with Amazon services. So most didn’t bother because Amazon store also didn’t ship as default store. Google manipulates the OEMs and devs into doing their bidding. Any app requiring a location API using Google maps, was bound to Google’s play services, if OEMs, wanted play services, they have to ship playstore and all of Google’s other search/browser apps alongside. So it left OEMs no choice, left playstore as default, and left devs no choice either, and once users were trained to go to playstore, there’s no turning back because the floodgates opened.

      That’s why the EU $5 billion fine against Google, they can see how Google has been abusing their power since 2011. Android is open sourced in name only, an OS is useless without its apps, and most apps are heavily dependent upon Google play services. That’s why Google could leverage that power. Android is Google’s proprietary OS, it is a defacto Monopoly, and any anti competitive behavior should be punished.

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