In an effort to rid itself from the platform overlords, Epic Games announced today (Aug. 3) that it will not distribute its massively popular game Fortnite Battle Royale through the Google Play Store. Instead, Android users will be able to download the game directly from Fortnite‘s official website.
This move allows Epic, the company’s CEO Tim Sweeney told The Verge, to maintain a direct relationship with its fans, but the real motivation is likely financial. In order to get listed in marketplaces like Google’s Play Store, app developers must agree to give Google a 30% cut of the money they make on the platform. Normally, this is a necessary evil because platforms have all the eyeballs. But for Epic, which already has a loyal fanbase for Fortnite, selling directly to consumers allows it to pocket its earnings directly, without having to give Google a cut. It’s like being a movie studio, distribution company, and box office all in one.
Epic is intimately familiar with the stakes of distributing through a platform.
In its first three weeks on Apple’s App Store, Fortnite reportedly brought in over $15 million, out-earning other viral phenomenons like like Candy Crush Saga and Pokémon Go. It’s likely that Epic saw how much it was handing over to Apple, which has similar fee structures to Google, and didn’t want to do the same thing for Android, the most ubiquitous operating system in the world.
“30 percent is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service,” Sweeney told The Verge.
Fornite is free to play, but Epic is generating reams of cash from in-game purchases, like new pickaxes and costumes for their players, which provide no advantage to the gamer’s performance.
With creators finding alternative ways to reach fans and huge corporations pouring money into online media, it’s no wonder Apple, Alphabet, and Facebook are all investing in original content that they can own.
The Android version of Fortnite still has no concrete release date.