Epic Grudgingly Releases Fortnite for Android on Google Play Store
Fortnite is the most popular video game on the planet, and while most people are playing on computers and consoles, the mobile version is surprisingly in vogue as well. Epic’s success with Fortnite has given it enough power to push changes in the gaming industry with the Epic Store. Its options on mobile are much more restricted, though. After fighting with Google for more than a year, Epic has relented and added Fortnite to the Play Store.
The battle began in 2018 as Epic was gearing up to launch its mobile version of Fortnite, which is a free-to-play game. Paradoxically, players spend a huge amount of money on this free game to get skins and other items. Both Apple and Google take a 30 percent cut of mobile app and game sales as compensation for operating the distribution platform. Epic had no choice but to give Apple its pound of flesh as the iPhone only accepts apps from the App Store. Android doesn’t have that limitation, so Epic launched the game independently.
Since the 2018 launch, the primary route to getting Fortnite Mobile on Android was to download the APK from Epic’s site and “sideload” it. Google discourages developers from doing this because it requires users to disable security measures on their devices, and indeed, there were security issues with Epic’s approach early on. Still, it stubbornly refused to budge unless Google waived its 30 percent cut of sales, which it declined to do.
While Epic has relented and added Fortnite to the Play Store, it’s very, very unhappy about it. In a statement, Epic claims Google “puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage.” It cites security pop-ups and OEM software agreements as impediments to distributing its game, although it doesn’t explain why. Epic also claims that Google Play Protect will “outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.” This is completely untrue — Epic is either mistaken or being disingenuous.
As of today, you can get Fortnite on the Play Store, which is safer and more convenient for users no matter what Epic says. However, Epic will continue offering the game for download on its own site. Any players who get it from there will be giving all their money to Epic. Purchases on the Play Store version of the game will include the 30 percent cut for Google.