What just happened? Fortnite has just hit the Google Play store despite being available on Android for the last 18 months. Developer Epic Games begrudgingly allowed its title onto the storefront, complaining that Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage.
Back in August 2018, Epic Games decided to circumvent Google’s 30 percent Play Store revenue cut by distributing the Android version of Fortnite via its mobile website. CEO Tim Sweeney said Google’s take was a “high cost” in the industry, especially as Android is an open platform where Google does not distribute or manage all the hardware.
Now, Epic has given in to Google, explaining that the decision is in the gaming company’s best interests.
"After 18 months of operating Fortnite on Android outside of the Google Play Store, we’ve come to a basic realisation: Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play Store,” Epic said in a statement. “Because of this, we’ve launched Fortnite for Android on the Google Play Store.”
“We hope that Google will revise its policies and business dealings in the near future, so that all developers are free to reach and engage in commerce with customers on Android and in the Play Store through open services, including payment services, that can compete on a level playing field.”
One of Epic's biggest complaints is that apps sold on the Play Store must use Google’s payment service for microtransactions—something Sweeney doesn’t agree with. "Tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30 percent fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50 percent market share," he said, noting that games sold on Epic’s store aren’t forced into using the company’s own payment tech.
Epic Games likes to point out that it only takes around a 12 percent cut from titles sold on its store, whereas Steam takes 30 percent—until a game’s sales reach certain milestones.