Today EPIC Games confirmed the rumor that Fortnite Mobile will not be available for Android users to download from the Google Play store. Instead, users will download an installer directly from EPIC's website, which will load the game onto their Android devices. This is a huge power-play that may or may not pay off in the end, but according to EPIC Games' Tim Sweeney, it will pay off big time.
Fortnite is a platform-driving game that has proven it can generate hundreds of millions of dollars a month, and even on mobile Fortnite Battle Royale is driving multiple millions of dollars monthly from in-app purchases. That's astounding, considering that the game hasn't even come to Android yet. When it does hit Android, EPIC wants to make sure that all of those profits make their way back to the company without passing through Google's pocket first. Of course, Sweeney is boasting that this is a win for the consumer as well:
"Epic's goal is to bring its games directly to customers. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android," Sweeney said in a new Q&A. "Competition among services gives consumers lots of great choices and enables the best to succeed based on merit." Google is hearing similar rhetoric in Europe, where it's been fined $5 billion for forcing its own software onto all Android phones instead of giving users a choice of which search and browser software to download for themselves.
But EPIC's motives aren't purely altruistic. There's a significant financial motivation to bypass the Google Play Store as well. Google would otherwise take a 30% cut of Fortnite's profits, and that's money EPIC would rather keep. Sweeney doesn't deny it.
"Avoiding the 30 per cent 'store tax' is a part of Epic's motivation. It's a high cost in a world where game developers' 70 per cent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games. And it's disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service. We're intimately familiar with these costs from our experience operating Fortnite as a direct-to-customer service on PC and Mac."
So how much money is potentially on the table? A lot. Sweeney estimates that there are roughly 250 million Android devices out there that are Fortnite ready. The average Fortnite player on mobile is spending almost $85. We'll let you do the math.