In what is surely to become a major blow for Google, Epic has decided to not release their immensely popular game Fortnite on the Google Play Store. Instead, players who want to play the game will need to download the installer directly from the game’s website.
In an article at Gamesindustry.biz, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney explains the company’s decision to forgo the default app store for Android users. Of course, the reason is money.
“The 30 per cent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 per cent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games” – Epic CEO Tim Sweeney
A quick primer on how digital store operate. Pretty much every major digital distribution platform, whether it is Steam, Playstation Store or the Xbox Marketplace, each take a cut from the revenue generated by the products sold on their services. The percentage is an open secret with 30% of the money going to the platform holder. This is how Valve became so big on the PC, how Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are earning from anything sold on their platforms.
But not only gaming platforms are following this business model, smartphones and tablets are adhering to the same principal. Apple and Google both take a cut from every sold application on their store. This also extends to in-app purchases, the real meat of money n mobile especially.
Knowing this, one might be curious why Epic is OK with the business tactic on consoles but not on mobile, e.g. on Android. The answer is quite simple. Because they can. Google has openly marketed their smartphone OS Android for years as a more open, versatile and flexible alternative to the strictly closed garden on Apple’s iOS. This allows every Android user to easily install apps onto their Android devices which aren’t distributed on the Google Play Store.
Obviously, Epic is seeing a chance to keep more of the cake and leaving nothing for Google, and the company is taking it. Usually, developers take advantage of the Google Play Store’s popularity to attain more visibility for their apps but in Fortnite’s case, the game is already a phenomenon and Epic will likely be still successful by offering the game through their own website.
It’ll be interesting to see if Google will release any kind of statement regards this matter and whether they will rethink the openness of their mobile operating system. Highly unlikely in our opinion but Fortnite could set a precedent for future mega-popular apps on Android.
Epic plans to release Fortnite for Android sometime this summer.
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