Epic Games gives in and launches Fortnite on the Google Play Store

Epic Games has finally given in and is putting Fortnite on the Google Play Store. This settles the feud that’s been going on for a while now, however, Epic Games is not pleased with the development in the least.

For those who do not know, here’s a little backgrounder -

When Epic Games launched Fortnite in 2018, they sidestepped the Google Play Store and pushed users to download the game directly from the Epic Games’ website. This was done to avoid the substantial revenue cuts that Google imposes on the in-app purchases on the Play Store downloads.

At that point in time, it made sense for Epic to sidestep Google and the Play Store since Fortnite was one of the hottest free-to-play games that year and was pulling in substantial revenue from in-app purchases.

In December last year, Epic Games tried to get an exemption from the 30% fee that Google charges calling it illegal for platforms with more than 50% of the market share. However, Epic Games had released Fortnite on the App Store in 2018 itself since they had assumed that bypassing Apple’s policies and security restrictions was not a possibility. Epic Games has been paying Apple the fee, the argument in this case is that Apple (iOS) is more restrictive than Android and also smaller in global market share.

“Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard,” the company said in a statement at the time regarding Android. “We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase.”

Google denied the request, stating - “Google Play has a business model and billing policy that allow us to invest in our platform and tools to help developers build successful businesses while keeping users safe. We welcome any developer that recognizes the value of Google Play and expect them to participate under the same terms as other developers.”

After a year and half of harsh platform gatekeeping, Epic Games has put Fortnite on the Google Play Store for download. You can still download it from fortnite.com as well, though.

“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,” an Epic Games spokesperson said in a statement.

“Because of this, we’ve launched Fortnite for Android on the Google Play Store,” the statement added.

Epic Games keeping Fortnite away from the Play Store was a threat to Google’s app profits. Google had, however, argued that downloading Android software outside the Play Store meant a security threat to users who could end up unknowingly downloading malware from less reputable sites.

The game developers are not happy with the roadblocks Google has put up to dissuade users from downloading software from anywhere else on the web along with the blanket warnings Android sends out regardless of whether the software publisher is a trusted one or not.

Google has gotten its way this time, but it is amply clear that Epic Games is not happy with how things have had to work out.

“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,” Epic Game’s statement adds.

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