In an interview with The Verge, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has confirmed that Fortnite Battle Royale will be downloadable directly from Epic and will not be on Google Play.
Gamers who want to download the game will be able to do so through Epic Games’ official website once the game becomes available for their device. They will also need to enable installations from unknown sources in their device’s security settings.
The move lets Epic bypass Google Play’s approval process and avoid having Google take a 30% cut of in app purchases made on Android. At the same time it increases the likelihood that unsuspecting gamers looking for an Android version of the game will accidentally download a compromised version of the game, as well as make the game more difficult to find for the average user.
Notably, the PC version of Fortnite is not available on Steam and that has not seemed to hamper the game’s success or growth. At the same time while PC games often opt not to have their game distributed through Steam, including major hits like Minecraft, it is extraordinarily rare for a game to be released on Android in North American or Europe and not be available on Google Play. Though there are exceptions, like MMORPG Albion Online, such moves significantly limit a game’s audience.
Fortnite’s Android target audience was already likely to be significantly smaller than some of its competitors. Although it is the biggest game around, the Android version of the game will have steep hardware requirements, as well as the potential of timed exclusivity with Samsung devices. That puts it in stark contrast with other battle royale games such as PUBG Mobile and Rules of survival which are playable on mid range and less powerful devices.
Often overlooked is the fact that PUBG Mobile publisher Tencent owns a 40% stake in Epic Games. The Chinese video game behemoth also owns significant stakes in many of the biggest mobile game publisher and developers including Supercell and Netmarble. Despite its size, Tencent has yet to attempt to launch a competing app store outside of China.