One of the biggest risks that Epic Games has taken with Fortnite has paid off handsomely. That risk was to not release Fortnite through the Google Play store when releasing the game on Android.
Games for Android phones are almost exclusively released through the Google Play store. This makes your game way more accessible for downloads and also gives your app much more visibility than it would otherwise get. However, this service comes with a pretty big downside and that is that Google takes 30% of all the revenues earned with your app. That is a pretty significant portion.
Epic Games decided that they were not willing to lose such a large portion of the revenue and thus decided to do things their own way, something that they have become extremely good at. Android players would have to download an “APK” file and then approve the game’s install through Android’s permissions. This is definitely an unconventional way to let players download the app. You could even lose potential players if they do not want to go through such an effort.
However, as stated before, the gamble paid off. Epic Games themselves have confirmed that the “APK” file has been downloaded a total of 15 million times and that 23 million players have entered the open beta for Fortnite on Android. These numbers have been achieved within the span of 1 month. In comparison, the iOS version was downloaded only 11 million times within 1 month.
Receiving full revenue from 23 million players or receiving only 70% is quite a substantial difference. It’s probably such a large difference that even a company as big as Epic Games is would definitely feel. The decision to avoid paying 30% revenue to Google is definitely a smart one and one that more game developers should take a look at.
The reason why the Fortnite app has done so well despite not being downloadable through the Google Play store is probably only due to Fortnite enormous success. The game already has an absurd player base so it’s not all that surprising that 15 million people would be interested in playing the game on Android devices. However, it’s certainly refreshing to see a company do things their own way and prove that that can work.