After receiving confirmation from Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, we now know that Fortnite Battle Royale will not be available on the Play Store when it finally gets released to Android. Instead, users need to download the APK directly from the Epic Games website – and frankly, that's a bad idea.
Epic Games increases the chances of a number of problems as they are not distributed in the Play Store. The major disadvantage is malware, where users unknowingly download fake copies of the APK of the game, resulting in unintended consequences such as the loss of their data. In addition, the process becomes unnecessarily complicated for new Android users who do not know sideloading.
Updates are also an interesting process, since page-enabled apps can not be automatically updated through the Play Store. Instead, Epic Games will need to schedule a workaround. In addition, Google's built-in provision for in-app purchases does not work, which is very important for a game whose revenue comes mainly from in-app purchases. Despite all the complexity and confusion, it just does not make sense.
Why Epic Does not Use the Play Store
CEO Tim Sweeney spoke with The Verge about their decision to abandon the Play Store. According to Tim, Epic wanted to maintain a direct relationship with their customers wherever they can. Second, Epic did not want to pay Google's 30% Google Fee on all in-app purchases if they placed the app on the Play Store.
The first reason is based on the idea that Epic could always go the direct route you did. Both PC and Android do not need games hosted on the central distribution platform (Steam for PC and Google Play Store for Android), and in both cases Epic Games has created its own straightforward ways.
The second reason is based on the idea that Fort Nite Battle Royale is free on all platforms. All revenue comes from in-app purchases – especially V-Bucks, which allow users to buy cosmetics such as outfits, backpacks and pickaxes. This strategy was a great success. In just 90 days after the release of the iOS version, they were able to reach $ 100 million, the second-fastest app behind Clash Royale. Although the reasons are easy to understand, the benefits do not outweigh the problems they face along the way.
. 1 Sideloading Can Be Dangerous
While sideloading for Android power users may seem like a simple process that you have run countless times, it can be a little tricky for new users. Just like the first release of the game on iOS, Fortnite Battle Royale for Android brings new users who are not as tech savvy as others. Even with perfectly laid out instructions, mistakes can be made.
But what concerns more is the danger of the sideload in general. One of the main reasons why Android disables the feature by default is that apps outside the Play Store can be malicious. APKs can come from any source and be posted by anyone. While the majority of the Android community are charitable people trying to help new users, there are a number of people who take advantage of the open source nature of Android for their own benefit.
You can create fake apps that look like the real Fortnite game but are actually something else. Whether they fill them with ads to earn a profit or steal user data to sell them on the black market, there are a number of ways to exploit this situation and harm potential new Fortnite mobile users.
The Play Store is not perfect, but it is much safer. Google would be able to pull out fake apps disguised as a real game and run anti-virus scans continuously to make sure that the APK has not been altered by third parties. User reviews can distract people from well-made duplicates that are not actually the official game.
A counter-argument can be made that since Epic will host the game on their official site, even the most experienced users will know to get the APK directly from the official source. While this may be true, the introduction of the masses into the concept of the sideload without fully elucidating the risks, can cause problems with other APKs.
With the Play Store, Android allows its users to save their credit or debit card in their in-app purchase account. This method is convenient because your personal financial information is protected by Google but easily accessible whenever you need to make a purchase. You can even safely add third-party solutions like PayPal or billing with your mobile service provider.
Sideloaded apps, however, do not have access to this feature. Instead, you have to rely on the implementation of the app for in-app purchases. You need to trust Epic Games, which probably offers fewer options for payment methods. And since payment only works for Fortnite Battle Royale, it's not as practical as the integrated solution from Android.
Just like sideloading, this adds unnecessary complications in the process. New users may already have a credit card or account saved in their Google Account, but they'll need to redo it for Fortnite just because Epic wants to avoid a 30% charge.
The matter becomes even more worrying when one considers the fake APKs that will inevitably be available on the Internet. If you need to enter credit card information into the game, a well done fake can easily clear your bank account.
When an app is hosted in the Play Store, developers simply upload updates to the Google servers. The Play Store informs users about the update and automatically updates the app for you, depending on your settings. It is simple, fast and designed so that even beginners are not confused.
But with page-loaded apps, you can not automatically update through the Play Store. Instead, Epic Games needs to find a workaround. It's possible that they will incorporate this functionality into the game, but it could be easier to release a stand-alone Fortnite Updater app that is another app that you need to load page by page (and another attack surface for malware).
Even if you install update features in the Fortnite app itself, the process will not run automatically. You still need to open the updated APK file and explicitly tap "Install" because Android can not allow non-system apps to install updates for you.
Then there is another fold for devices with Android Oreo or higher. Since you will be downloading the game from Epic's website your browser must be given the new sideloading permission. But unlike previous versions of Android, this permission is not system-wide but via app. So, after enabling your browser to sideload the game, you'll need to give Fortnite permission to install updates downloaded from the game.
. 4 Epic does not have to comply with Play Store rules
Google now requires all new apps to target Android Oreo. This means they need to take advantage of some of the new features in Android 8.0, including better use of background data, security enhancements, and improved user control over notifications (known as notification channels). When Epic Games publishes its app in the Play Store, it must adhere to this rule and the multitude of other rules that are required for each App in the Play Store.
Instead, for example, they can target a lower version of PlayStation 2 Android to save time. Currently, Android Oreo is only installed on 12.1% of Android phones. If you do not target Oreo, you can avoid the tedious implementation of features that only a handful of users can use.
Both Oreo and the other rules of the Play Store, however, are aimed at protecting you. Apps in the Play Store are subject to a list of rules that, if broken, can lead to their being pulled. Targeting Android Oreo protects you from malware, as apps must be created with the latest security tools. For sideloading, you must instead trust the developer to do the right thing.
. 5 It sets a terrible precedent
Perhaps the biggest drawback of this whole scenario is that it paves the way for further fragmentation of Android. Because Fortnite is as big as it is, other game developers will pay close attention to how Epic works.
If users feel satisfied with sideloading, game studios will not be so concerned about potential customers by not hosting their merchandise on the Play Store. In fact, we could move on to a future in which Android's official app store is an afterthought. Larger games could follow by first launching on iOS and then using the hype of iPhone users to promote an APK download on their website. An additional 30% profit is a lot of motivation.
Superficially, Google might lose some of its tight grip on the Android ecosystem, sounds like a good thing. But if they started losing money, they would be motivated to make sideloading as hard and neat as on iOS.
Epic Games is already being forced by Apple to use the App Store for many of the same reasons we mentioned Here, so why not do the same thing with the Play Store even though you have options, right? What do you think about the decision of Epic Games? Let us know in the comment section below.