back to article Game over for Google: Fortnite snubs Play Store, keeps its 30%, sparks security fears

The maker of super-hit Fortnite has snubbed Google by deciding to release the Android version of the video game through its own website rather than the Google Play app store. The decision is unusual for an app running on a mobile operating system and raises all sorts of questions, not least of which are whether Google's profit …

  1. Detective Emil
    Coat

    Sweeney shuns Google's haircut

    Mine's the one with the comb in the top pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sweeney shuns Google's haircut

      Will I be able to sue Epic if I get malware because they made me disable my device security???

      If epic told me not to wear seatbelts in my car and I got badly injured as a result of that, they surely would be liable.

      Waiting in anticipation for the class action lawsuit when a thousand fake fortnight malware APKs are loaded up onto fake websites offering free versions of the game.

      It's pretty disgusting that Epic has put the dollar above device security, they clearly don't give a crap about their users.

      I really hope the lawsuits cost them many more times that 30% cut...

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Sweeney shuns Google's haircut

        "Will I be able to sue Epic if I get malware because they made me disable my device security???"

        Will I be able to sue my dentist if I get injured while travelling to see them? No, and no to your question, for the same reason.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sweeney shuns Google's haircut

          Not really the same though is it. One is a DIRECT result, the other is totally unrelated

          1. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Sweeney shuns Google's haircut

            "Not really the same though is it. One is a DIRECT result, the other is totally unrelated"

            The only way you can get to the dentist is by travelling outside temporarily, where there is a risk of an accident.

            The only way to install this software is by accepting third-party sources temporarily, where there is a risk of malware.

      2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Sweeney shuns Google's haircut

        I don't know where you are, but I'm in the US. Here you can sure anybody for anything.

        But the first question is going to be: in what way did Epic _force_ you to install the game?

        Look over this way. See this? This is me not installing Fortnite.

        If I can do it, you can do it. Be brave!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forgive my ignorance, but if the game is free-to-play, what difference does it make if Google take 30% from nothing?

    Or...do Google also get a cut of all in-game purchases? If so, why does THAT have to go through the Google Payment system?

    1. K Silver badge

      "Or...do Google also get a cut of all in-game purchases? If so, why does THAT have to go through the Google Payment system?"

      Yes and I'm fairly certain its my stipulation of using the store..

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Same with Steam I think. With the same kind of cut. You can bypass Steam for payment tho.

        Actually, if you're outside of the Google Play payment apparatus, doesn't that mean you're independently juggling credit card details? For kids?...

        I think there may be several more cans of worms in this smashable lootcrate...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Apple have a rule that stops you having any kind of in-app purchase mechanism that isn't apple (it's the reason amazon couldn't offer kindle books through the kindle app for a while) - although out-of-app purchases are of course completely fine as apps supporting many commercial services couldn't exist otherwise. Google don't seem to have an equivalent rule.

        I can only assume fortnite on android will not be free.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forgive my ignorance, but if the game is free-to-play, what difference does it make if Google take 30% from nothing?

      Or...do Google also get a cut of all in-game purchases? If so, why does THAT have to go through the Google Payment system?

      Google gets a cut of all purchases using Google Play Store api, including app purchase, in-game purchase and subscription. To enforce this google policy, google removes / rejects all Google Player Store apps that do not use their api for in-game purchase.

  3. Sven Coenye

    If they really want to send a signal

    then Epic should pull Fortnite from iTunes. Otherwise, the only lesson to be learned by Google is that they need to shut down the side load avenue too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If they really want to send a signal

      They surely will, with this and the bullshit fake news spewed by checkpoint and Kaspersky.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: If they really want to send a signal

      Depending on how things work on Android, Epic may well moot leaving ITunes or even launching a legal challenge or most likely: renegotiate rates with Apple and Google.

      Given that Google is already the subject of anti-trust action, it's unlikely to do something as demonstratively anti-competitive as restricting side-loading.

    3. Schultz

      "lesson... learned by Google is... to shut down the side load avenue"

      I think that would come with legal risks: Android has a monopolistic position in many markets. Apple somehow got around this by reducing their market share to the lower double digits before thw regulators could catch up, but Google surely would be hit with the force of the law (and their near monopoly already makes them a punching bag in the EU).

    4. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: If they really want to send a signal

      "then Epic should pull Fortnite from iTunes. Otherwise, the only lesson to be learned by Google is that they need to shut down the side load avenue too."

      As others said before, but I can repeat it: Apple gets a percentage of the sale price, which is zero, so Apple gets 30% of nothing to host the app on their servers, to review it so there's nothing dogy going on, and to display it in their app store app. (And to Apple having lots of apps making users buy lots of iPhones is more important than getting money from app sales).

      Apple also gets a percentage of any in-app sale (30%, 15% for subscriptions). But you don't have to use in-app sales; you can do all sales through your web site. You can also do both at the same time, so if you have a $10 item to sell, you get $7 from every in-app purchase, and $10 from every purchase through your website. The only thing you cannot do is advertise your website sales in the app.

      One argument of the company is incorrect: "Development etc. costs 70% of the sale price". No, development costs a fixed amount of money, which you would subtract from whatever money comes in. So the question to decide is not the amount of development cost, it is whether 70% of sales made through Apple is more than 100% made from sales through your website minus cost of running the website, or not. Your development cost doesn't matter for that decision.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: If they really want to send a signal

        And to Apple having lots of apps making users buy lots of iPhones is more important than getting money from app sales

        The results from the most recent quarter would suggest otherwise: Apple is still selling lots of phones but app sales and other intangibles are becoming more important.

  4. Richard 120

    No brainer

    To me it's a no-brainer, Google should reduce the 30% Google tax in the same way governments cut taxes for the multinationals.

    1. Argh

      Re: No brainer

      They charge that because that's what Apple charge.

      It's not a coincidence -- it's the same reason Google keep charging almost exactly the same amount for the Pixels as Apple does for the equivalent iPhones.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: No brainer

        30% is pretty cheap compared with a typical retail distribution channel.

        1. joed

          Re: No brainer

          I'd think that retail store costs are much higher so 30% markup would be quite justified (though unlikely for all merchandise sold). I'm not quite sure that Google deserved the same cut but at least they develop Android and distribute platform for free (sure, they also skim user data). Apple simply does not deserve 30% as users of their toys already paid premium that covers all development cost and maintenance of the marketplace.

          1. Rob Fisher

            Re: No brainer

            Prices aren't "justified", they're just what people are prepared to pay. Smaller apps are prepared to pay 30% because who would go outside Play Store for just anything? Epic know people will want their game no matter what, so they're prepared to pay much less.

        2. Def Silver badge

          Re: No brainer

          30% is pretty cheap compared with a typical retail distribution channel.

          Not sure why you got downvoted for this. Presumably because people don't know how things actually work.

          Back in the day, the breakdown of the costs for games was something like this:

          Shop: 45% - Including VAT, etc.

          Distributor: 15%.

          Publisher: 30%.

          Developer: Whatever scraps they could negotiate after the publisher's up front costs were recouped - typically 8-10%.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Not sure why you got downvoted for this."

            Because you have no clue about the real cost for a company directly selling software as electronic downloads. You can't compare with physically packaged games sold in a store - where you have packaging cost, transport costs, store and shelf space costs, unsold items costs, etc. etc. - where the revenues are also shared across a large number of shops.

            A file stored on web server and the bandwidth to download it are much, much cheaper, and even electronic payment and their management don't cost you 30% of the item costs. Don't compare apples and oranges...

            1. Def Silver badge

              Re: "Not sure why you got downvoted for this."

              Because you have no clue about the real cost for a company directly selling software as electronic downloads. You can't compare with physically packaged games sold in a store - where you have packaging cost, transport costs, store and shelf space costs, unsold items costs, etc. etc. - where the revenues are also shared across a large number of shops.

              I have a very real clue about the cost of selling software both physically and electronically, which is why I wondered why the comment 30% is pretty cheap compared with a typical retail distribution channel. was down voted. Because as far as I can tell it's a pretty accurate assessment of how the real world works. (Which I then explained further with an example of how things used to be for games developers.)

              The point I was originally making was that from the point of view of a game developer, a 70% cut was a huge step up from the peanuts they were being given before. The fact that Apple is still taking 30% today is because nobody can dictate any terms to them - you publish in their store, or you don't publish on iOS. At the end of the day, there's a reason Apple are making so much money from such a small market share.

      2. JLV Silver badge

        Re: No brainer

        To be fair, IIRC back in Nokia store days, a 30% cut would have been a big improvement - it was more like 40-50%.

        I get Epic’s motivation but the security effects might indeed end up painful for users.

        Then, again, that last may not be entirely to Google’s disadvantage. Better that than caving to <30%, for them.

        Interesting play against the app store semi-monopolies. Popcorn.

    2. Schultz

      I like the fact that Google asks for a flat fee...

      This means that profits from successful and established developers keep the store open for small developers. If successful apps get a discount (and newcomers pay high fees), this creates a competitive disadvantage for newcomers.

      However, looking at the bottom line of Google, they should significantly reduce their take. There should be room for competitor stores (Apple store on Android?), who offer vetted apps and build a reputation for easily found quality apps.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. FlamingDeath Bronze badge

    “Mostly safe Google Play store”

    Haha, yeah good one

    Honestly, most software houses can’t get their shit together and will happily release insecure code, willingly too!

    Your best bet to staying safe is just dont install anything on anything

    Whether it’s Google, Apple or Microsoft, they’re all equally shit

    History has spoken, many many times, and it will continue to do so

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google play store is very safe. Go look at the freely available data and look at it in context.

      Apple of course don't publish data, so nobody knows how it compares (which is very handy for apple, and the press backhanders ensure nobody will risk asking)

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Define "safe." Don't immediately kill you, sure. Search for any popular title in Google Play Store and note how many impostor apps there are. Even if you find the right one, it's likely a gateway for advertising malware. I've seen ads pretend to be a homescreen. I've seen spearphishing ads simulating a specific application's upgrade screens so that it can trick you into downloading an impostor app. There are apps full of 1-star reviews saying it's malware yet Google says it's OK.

        No security is lost without Play Store. If anything, people will have an easier time identifying fake apps without it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Utter horseshit, apps simply don't have permission to do the things you mentioned, not since about 2014 and android 4.

          It sounds like yet more fake news where very old devices are given very specific problem apps and them a whole clickbait non story is written about it and then sold to desperate news sites.

          Can't you get a real job?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            "Utter horseshit, apps simply don't have permission to do the things you mentioned, not since about 2014 and android 4."

            I know quite a few people that own older, outdated Androids myself included.

            Some people can't afford to purchase a new phone every year and most people I talk to don't realize that their Android phones will not receive any updates unless they connect to WIFI.

            There was even a rumour that the current US President was using an older device not too long ago.

            There are also vendor modified Androids like the one I own that will modify the system apps to start pushing ads if you install the latest firmware by the manufacturer so many have opted out of updating their devices.

            Another interesting thing I've seen is factory installed apps on vendor modified Androids that could be updated independtly from the Play Store.

            I believe this is because they were not official Play Store apps.

            The Facebook app on phones that were part of the "Facebook experience" may be one of them.

            1. Richy Freeway

              Frog

              If you own an older out of date Android device you won't be able to play it anyway...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: which is very handy for apple, and the press backhanders ensure nobody will risk asking

        Please tell us. You know, dish the dirt. Who? What? When? and especially how much...

        I'm sure that this site (and many others) would just love to put a few really big knives into Apple and make them squirm.

        Yes, I have an iPhone but I've not paid Apple even a bent penny for the apps I use unless, my bank pays Apple for each transaction I make using the banking App.

        Now that would be a big, big story.

  6. DCFusor Silver badge

    Love the cognitive dissonance

    Apple "perfects it" and makes huge money. And is admired for it.

    Google does the same 30% thing - evil money grab.

    I get it...I think. No I don't. Why is that virtually unearned 30% not evil no matter who does it?

    1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

      Re: Love the cognitive dissonance

      You need to read the article again. It says that Apple ‘perfected’ the absolute walled garden approach (in that unless you jailbreak, it’s impossible to circumvent); not that it’s a ‘perfect’ model; and it’s not passing judgement on one or the other. Where did you read Apple good, Google evil?

    2. Arctic fox
      Headmaster

      @DCFusor Re: Love the cognitive dissonance

      "Why is that virtually unearned 30% not evil no matter who does it?"

      I believe that what the competition authorities would be concerned about is that Google has 85% of the mobile phone market and is therefore in a "market dominant position". Though I admit that as an ordinary punter the sight of unrestrained greed is not a pretty one regardless of who we are talking about.

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    I can't blame Epic for doing this...

    And I am hoping the message back to Google is that they need to negotiate their Playstore take with developers like Epic that can bring millions of customers and have strong brand equity outside of the Google Playstore.

    However, I fear the message that Google will hear is that they need to build some serious walsl around their garden, and maybe cyanide the gophers, moles and bunny rabbits that are cavorting inside.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

      "However, I fear the message that Google will hear is that they need to build some serious walsl around their garden, and maybe cyanide the gophers, moles and bunny rabbits that are cavorting inside."

      Unless they fancy a(nother) massive fine from the EU, they probably shouldn't.

    2. Daggerchild Silver badge

      Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

      If Google do that the EU will cheerfully smash them over the head and collect several billion more.

      If people start leaving Google's play store, the EU won't be able to fine Google anymore for leveraging the only game in town.

      Maybe EA should port Origin to Android?

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

        Why can'take Google counter with Apple's walled garden: contending that Apple keeps its own ecosystem with it as sole proprietor? What nailed Google wasn't Google Play Services itself but the way it beat OEMs over the head with it.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

          "Why can'take Google counter with Apple's walled garden: contending that Apple keeps its own ecosystem with it as sole proprietor?"

          Because in the EU/EEA, Apple is a minor bit player in terms of numbers and customers. They aren't even close to being a monopoly.

          1. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

            "Because in the EU/EEA, Apple is a minor bit player in terms of numbers and customers. They aren't even close to being a monopoly."

            There are other points. One is that you could argue that Apple has some rights to do things with Apple phones, and Google would have the same rights with Google phones, but they try to extend this to Samsung, Huawei, Sony, and plenty other phones. So that is a different situation right there.

            The other thing that this is all about consumer rights. So both for Apple and Google, you'd need to argue how a consumer is damaged, not a games manufacturer.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

      It's no surprise that larger companies selling more expensive software, and which already have the infrastructure to sell and distribute their software, won't pay the 30% fee as long as they can - it's only OK for smaller developers selling cheap apps who have not the resources.

      That's one reason, for example, why repackaging applications for the Windows Store will fail - why should you give others a so large cut of your revenues, when you don't need their services?

      They will found other ways, like installing "free apps" that do nothing and get enabled if you pay a subscription outside the store mechanism.

      While store might increase security a little - but we've seen lot of bad apps getting into anyway, they can't peruse each line of code - they're also a big anti-competition system. I would prefer vetted development company and signed applications, so bad ones can be stopped expiring the signatures.

    4. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

      And I am hoping the message back to Google is that they need to negotiate their Playstore take with developers like Epic that can bring millions of customers and have strong brand equity outside of the Google Playstore.

      "You need us more than we need you" has worked out well enough for Amazon's dealings with HMRC.

      Not working out quite so well for brexit though.

    5. Chands

      Re: I can't blame Epic for doing this...

      Yes you can.

      Epic states their reason as '30% is too damn high'.

      Yet they until recently also charged 30%.

      They talked about reducing it to 12% four years ago.

      Fortnite comes along, $100m + potential.

      Change their percentage to 12%.

      Cry google charges too much @ 30% and *that's* why they aren't going via play store. yeah right.

      Teehe .. they now keep 100% and don't have to give google $30m +

      Epic Douche.

      AS people have pointed out 30% doesn't seem that high compared to legacy distributor cuts. In line with Apple's 30% for example.

      The last thing you want is trusting kids with download apks. it's going to be a disaster and could very will punch Epic back in the face.

  8. Snowy
    Facepalm

    A free to play game

    Sorry it looks way to expensive for me to play that.

    I'm guessing even with them getting 100% of the money nothing is going to be any cheaper!

    Maybe instead of not putting it on the play store they should do both, that way people would get a choice.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: A free to play game

      Still, it raises questions. Why is it that there's no way to change that Google is the only source that can be trusted in Android almost all the time? Why isn't there a way to add or remove trusted sources in some hidden setting?

      1. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

        Re: A free to play game

        There is. RTA.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A free to play game

          Where in the article does it show how to add F-Droid or Epic as a trusted source so you can install from them without the Unknown Sources checked like you can with Google Play? Smacks unfair to me that Google can be listed as a trusted source when no one else can.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A free to play game

        Android 8.0 allows individual apps to install rather than a blanket release all.

        Don't start now complaining that only small% use Android 8.0 blah blah blah blah else you're just arguing that Google should be totally like some Apple and control everything

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A free to play game

          As I recall, the "one-time release" has been in place since 6.0 Marshmallow, but there's still no way to declare anything other than Google trusted...or to declare Google UNtrusted.

          1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

            Re: A free to play game

            If Epic were interested in their users, they could check the OS and settings and pop up a reminder to turn off side-loading once installed. Even pull up the setting for you.

            Now me, I do that as a matter of course. Only one or two things I side-load anyway, and I always turn off untrusted sources immediately. Also I own a Pixel. :) But I think Epic should include the reminder.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: A free to play game

              Like I said, if you're on Marshmallow, you have the ability to call this up as part of an install, and if you do it this way, it will ask if you want to turn the Untrusted Sources on just for that one install. It's halfway, but it still doesn't really sound fair that you have no way to change who is trusted and who is not on the phone...and as I recall, this is true even on AOSP.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: A free to play game

                Like I said, if you're on Marshmallow, you have the ability to call this up as part of an install, and if you do it this way, it will ask if you want to turn the Untrusted Sources on just for that one install. It's halfway, but it still doesn't really sound fair that you have no way to change who is trusted and who is not on the phone...and as I recall, this is true even on AOSP.

                By default, android including AOSP has an option to side-loaded "apk". Plenty of manufactures and rom add a warning before you turn this option on with a "Untrusted Source" popup. So the untrusted is really a separate thing compare to the play store 'trusted' installation.

                On the other hand, the play store 'trusted' installation is doesn't have the "Untrusted Source" popup because play store app directly install/modify files into an app and never as an "apk". So the trust issue is completely bypassed, thereby making the illusion that it is 'trusted'. (Android malware proves the 'trusted' illusion quite right)

                So if you wanted to change app installation to be 'trusted', then you need a system modifying app store to install/modify files into an app, which also bypasses the trust issue. I believe Amazon app store and some Chinese app store do exactly that.

                F-droid and other downloadable app store don't want to be installed as a system app (which requires root access), therefore app installation will be done as "apk" where you can get an "Untrusted Source" popup.

          2. Random Handle

            Re: A free to play game

            >but there's still no way to declare anything other than Google trusted

            Yes there is - and for almost a year now:

            I know there's a need for shock horror, Google is dead type headlines - but Google actually added the functionality specifically to facilitate side-loading and enable trusted third-party app stores.

            https://android-developers.googleblog.com/2017/08/making-it-safer-to-get-apps-on-android-o.html

  9. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Deja Vue all over again?

    As I read this article I realised that I'd seen this MUD financial model before, complete with support for third party sources selling weapons, equipment and other stuff useful to gamers, but I saw it in a book: Neal Stephenson's "REAMDE". That was published in 2011, so I wonder if/when the big dogs at Epic read it.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    this is only news because fortnite

    quite a few apps that make money (trading, crypto etc) are not on the google store for the the same reason of not sharing profits.

    It's only old farts on the register that don't realise that even with "unknown sources" ticked, you still have to say "yes, please install malware.apk" maybe because they're old and don't really understand technology after 1978 and wouldn't automatically go to the fortnite website for the download... instead trying to download it from the milkman or something.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: this is only news because fortnite

      Forget your weaksauce, I am downvoting you for your appalling lack of capitalisation and punctuation.

      This, is what happens when you play Fortnite in English class.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: this is only news because fortnite

      Then hoe come you don't have to go through this for the Play Store? Why is it the ONLY repo that gets trusted this way? Why is there no way to add or remove trusted sources?

    3. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: this is only news because fortnite

      What a load of old cock or to use an americanism, "Did Mommy cut you allowance again and you are stuck in her basement?"

      I'm an old fart. Been in IT since '72 and been there, done that and can still fit the 'T' Shirt.

      We are generally very cynical people and do not trust anyone and any company lightly.

      The history of IT is littered with the graves of IT companies that took their users/customers for granted.

      It is the reckless young that are IMHO more likely to get 'pawned' and not us Wise Old Farts.

      As the old song goes,

      "Fools rush in..."

    4. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

      Re: this is only news because fortnite

      I'm 61. Haven't seen a milkman since I was a child. Know enough to turn untrusted sources back off and to laugh at your presumption.

      Young punks. Get off my lawn!

  11. Jove Bronze badge

    Article sponsored by Google?

  12. Bush_rat

    Rude on Epic's Part

    Of course they'll do anything they can to maximize profit, but Google is doing exactly what Apple does, they just have the decency to allow 3rd party installation

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will Epic launch their own 'Games Marketplace' now?

    Fortnite made Sweeney a billionaire. Epic could do it. The hints are here:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    https://www.pcgamesn.com/steam-revenue-cut-tim-sweeney

    https://forums.unrealengine.com/unreal-engine/marketplace/1500420-unreal-engine-marketplace-88-12-revenue-share

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Epic's biggest problem is their Security

      Below is a typical post. Most don't even get a reply.

      Typical response from Epic is <<<Tumbleweed>>>.

      The Mods / Community Managers are mostly AWOL.

      Epic are genius @ game engines but bad @ security:

      -

      https://forums.unrealengine.com/unreal-engine/feedback-for-epic/1453715-epic-your-account-security-design-is-atrociously-bad

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Will Epic launch their own 'Games Marketplace' now?

        Not really, given the usual condition of being published on F-Droid is being required to post the source and let F-Droid compile the app itself. Yes, I know there are exceptions, but IINM not for the baseline source code requirement.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Will Epic launch their own 'Games Marketplace' now?

        I don't think it will worry Google. They'll probably make their re-write of Android ONLY load apps from their new super-duper and ultra secure application store.

        /s /s /s

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Will Epic launch their own 'Games Marketplace' now?

          How will they do that without ticking off enterprise users with their homebuilt apps?

  14. The Original Steve

    Workaround

    I wonder if Epic could create a free app on Play, which only creates a shortcut to a page on their website with instructions and the link to the .apk?

    Not perfect but may help reduce the risk whilst still giving Google the middle finger.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Workaround

      "I wonder if Epic could create a free app on Play, which only creates a shortcut to a page on their website with instructions and the link to the .apk?"

      That is a direct violation of Google's developer rules and I agree with it.

  15. mark l 2 Silver badge

    There is a good chance this may backfire for Epic. Firstly they are clearly saying that their customers security is not as important to them as making an extra 30% profit.

    Secondly a lot of people may not install the game because they will be put off from enabling third party app installs because of the warning messages that come with it.

    It is also inviting a world of scammers who will create fake download sites for the Fortnite APKs which riddle users phones with malware. This will give Epic a bad reputation as some people may believe that these malware versions are genuine ones from Epic, while others will be annoyed that they have not providing the app through the easy and 'safe' Play store method.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      It should be relatively easy to counter with notes to go straight to epic.com to get the game along with sanctioned ads. After all, as noted, fake apps HAVE hit the Play Store, too, and a determined campaign is likely to be able to add more bad apps than Google can scrub (the ol' whack-a-mole problem).

      1. David 164 Bronze badge

        Tell that to banks and countless other institutions that have been trying to prevent such attacks for a good decade and customer continue to fall for them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      30% of a free to play game doesn't sound much.

      Nothing says they have to use google's in-app purchase mechanism either - amazon don't pay 30% to google when I use their app to buy some tat, neither do just-eat.

      It's an odd story. I can only assume the objection is because they want to make the android app a pay up-front model and are going to lose 30% of that.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        "Nothing says they have to use google's in-app purchase mechanism either - amazon don't pay 30% to google when I use their app to buy some tat, neither do just-eat."

        An interesting point. I don't know the Play Store rules, but the App Store rules.

        Any purchase that ends up in some way on your phone (like ebooks, music, video, magazines etc.) can be purchased as an in-app purchase (30% to Apple) or can be purchased outside (0% to Apple), but you are not allowed to advertise for outside purchases within the app.

        Any purchase that ends up outside your phone (like tat from Amazon, or just-eat which ends up in your stomach) CAN NOT be purchased as an in-app purchase. You can do all the purchasing in your app using your own code, you can advertise for it in your app, Apple gets zero percent, but you are not allowed to use Apple's in-app purchase mechanism for it.

    3. IGnatius T Foobar !

      Fine. Publish a second version of the game that is available on the Play Store and costs 30% more. Let the users know where their money went.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        App is free to play, meaning the app itself would still be $0,00. In-app purchases would suddenly have to run over the google in-app purchase API if running from the play store, which would mean implementing entirely different code just for that version. I doubt Epic would want the epic clusterfuckery that comes with running 2 versions of the same software. Thus it'll be EITHER running through google play store OR running from a side-loaded APK.

  16. LISTENTOME

    Oh, does this mean it will be easier for Epic to steal from families? Fortnight In-game purchases are crack to kids. My 16 year old (should have known better) stole $800.00 from his brother, whose credit card was associated with the account, to play this game. We've closed all accounts at this point. I've spoken to other parents, with children as young as 11, who have suffered significant financial loss from Epic's in-game purchase mechanisms.

    Seem pretty darned shady. Sure would be a shame if regulators had to take a look and criminals had to go to jail, although that's what I'd like to see. They'll hide behind their EULAs.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Well, to an extent, Epic would have a point calling out parents and so on for lack of oversight, and if adults overspend, at some point you'll just have to say, "Your funeral."

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Well, to an extent, Epic would have a point calling out parents and so on for lack of oversight,"

        Just what I was going to say. This is not new. There have been stories of kids spending huge amounts on in-game stuff ever since in-game purchases were invented. Anyone who doesn't know about this by now and has taken steps to limit what their offspring can spend on their pocket games computes phones, especially if they reg readers, ought to know better by now. It's 10 years since Android Market opened (and begat Google Play). Even the mainstream "think of the children" press have reported on this sort of event multiple times.

        On the other hand, the mainstrem media told us all about how TalkTalk "lost" millions of users data. Twice! But people still think they are worth a punt and give them money every month.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Oh, does this mean it will be easier for Epic to steal from families? Fortnight In-game purchases are crack to kids. My 16 year old (should have known better) stole $800.00 from his brother, whose credit card was associated with the account, to play this game. We've closed all accounts at this point. I've spoken to other parents, with children as young as 11, who have suffered significant financial loss from Epic's in-game purchase mechanisms.

      Parenting 101: How to be Successful Parent:

      Step 1: Remove App Store Credit Card

      Step 2: Buy App Store Cards Instead

      Step 3: When out of Funding, No Purchase Until Acquire New Store Cards

      Step 4: ????

      Step 5: Success Parenting. Dad Wins. Mom Wins. Kids Wins. Everyone Wins.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Step 4: Kid learns parents' credentials, adds cards back, spends a fortune, then removes them again. That's always been the catch with these things: the assumption the kid isn't smarter than the parent.

      2. Chands

        did you read the bit about it was the son that put his brother's CC on the app store.

        do you now want parents to put parental control on teenage, young adults ?

        Instead of putting safety tape and bandaids on a razor blade, how about don't give the kids the razor blade in the first place ?

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          "Instead of putting safety tape and bandaids on a razor blade, how about don't give the kids the razor blade in the first place ?"

          And what's to stop the kid from FINDING the razor blade on his own? Or the loose porno mag tossed over the fence? It's not like yours is the only one in existence. And I can speak from firsthand experience about chance encounters outside of any parents' possible purview (albeit the chance find for me was a perfectly ordinary fantasy novel that drew my interest in the author).

    3. geekguy

      Or you could have made sure you had to enter a password before in game purchases happen. Can certainly do that on ps4, so when my kid goes into the vbucks screen or store he can hit "buy" all he wants but he can't get anything because there are two layers of passwords after that (both of which are different , at least 20 characters long and stored in an encrypted password vault)

  17. adnim Silver badge

    Just wanna say,

    An Android App does not need Google infrastructure to be secure to use. Just as the using of an App downloaded from Google does not guarantee security.

    I see no reason why third party certificates from recognised and trusted? software development houses cannot be installed on Android. We trust certs from many organisations every day.

    Yes, Google wish to maintain a monopoly on Android Apps. I know

  18. rmullen0

    All the power to them

    A 30% cut to Google to do basically nothing is extortion. Screw Google and Apple for creating walled gardens.

    1. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: All the power to them

      Google provide the payment system, so removes that issue - and for small devs /companies, payment providers charge (depends on model, in many cases its a annual, monthly etc fee and a per transaction cut, if you only make a few sales then cost per transaction due to fixed monthly fees can be high, obviously if you sell a lot then most significant cost just becomes per transaction cut).

      Google also provides play store with categories, search, suggestions , reviews of apps (if not on play store harder for people to see good OR bad reviews...).

      For some games there is option of Google Play integration (not sure if that integration mandates goggle store download as I have not created games on android, just non game apps).

      Google also does some basic checks for apps on store not having malware

      So Google does not do nothing for its cut.

      Disclosure: I have made fully free, very niche, apps for android & put on play store purely so easier for people to grab them (side load warnings scare some people) - , I got no cash, but nor did Google (but costs of hosting app on store, providing reviews etc was borne by Google so my apps would have been a net loss for Google)

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Play has any security???

    Google Play offers a huge swath of apps that routinely steal your personal information and sells it to any party with cash.

  20. dmacleo

    whats fdroid charge? never looked, possible less risky way for them to go. dunno.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      F-Droid only allows source code submissions. The repo server expects to be able to compile the app itself, plus the app must be FOSS, and since Epic's code would be considered a Trade Secret, that rules out F-Driod.

      1. dmacleo

        ah gotcha, thanks.

        never really paid much attn to the finer details of it as am just user not dev.

  21. goldcd

    Amazon have been doing exactly the same thing for years

    with their "Amazon Underground" app (lets you access their app store as well as all things amazon, in one, google-market-rule-violating place).

    If Epic had had their heads screwed on properly, they'd have negotiated a deal with Amazon to distribute Fortnite via the underground app (and negotiated a low/free deal) with Amazon.

    In this scenario it's Amazon who has to handle all the security stuff (already have the app) and money (they do this quite well I believe) so Epic can just get on with making the game. From the Amazon side it gets their google-avoiding app onto millions and millions of new phones immediately.

  22. Ubermik

    The fact that some idiots "might" install something other than the official APK and get a virus is a very weak justification for google using its position to take ridiculous cuts of the profits from people using its portal

    30% is a joke, at most they should take something around 5% at the very highest so good job Epic for sticking it to the tax avoidance money gouging giant

    1. The Real SteveP

      You do know we're discussing Google here and not Apple, right?

    2. Chands

      30% is not a joke it's the industry standard for a distributor and was in fact higher many years ago, probably higher because it wasn't digital.

      Apple is 30%. Epic lowered theirs recently from 30% to 12% to justify being able to call google's 30% too high.

      1. elbisivni

        Apple also drops to 15% for in app subscriptions in the second year.

  23. IGnatius T Foobar !

    This is good.

    This is a perfect way for non-technical users to learn the joys and benefits of sideloading apps. Remember, a sideloaded app is still sandboxed. The only downside is that you don't get the automatic updates (unless the app provides its own provision for that).

    Micro$oft is dreaming of the day it can lock down the desktop to Store-only. They, Apple, and Google all want total control, absolute monopoly. May that day never come, on any platform.

  24. Cuddles Silver badge

    Atypical approach?

    "Epic's atypical economic approach is what has made Fortnite such a huge success. The game is completely free and runs on pretty much every platform."

    It's a free-to-play game with microtransactions. That's not atypical, it's probably the most common payment model these days, especially on mobile platforms where it's essentially the only model that exists.

  25. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Stop

    Hmmm...

    Let me think, which is more secure...?

    So a key argument here is security, with the theory being that if you search for something like "fortnite android app" on the web, you're more likely to end up with something else that does nasty things that you would be if you went through the official Play store?

    I'll just leave this here...

    If someone wants to get you installing a fake app badly enough, they will find a way.

  26. arthoss

    Download from malware.com and get a 10 euro voucher

    Literally being paid to shoot yourself in the knee, that’s what will happen.

    Thanks for all comments, I will not allow games on my son’s ipad that can get goodies through any other means than App Store, because that would be outside my family chain of control on ios. What Epic is doing is shit, a Epicxshit . Let’s go back a decade or two it’s just too good these days!

  27. Tom Paine Silver badge

    ...millions of players are likely to search for the game through a search engine. That provides scammers with a huge opportunity to push their malware to unsuspecting users by taking out ads and embarking on SEO campaigns to appear near the top of search results.

    Well, that's easy enough to stop -- the search engines can easily look for searches like "android fortnite download APK" and make sure they go to the one true blue-ticked X.509-certified site. It's not like Google has a conflict of interest or any sort of incentive to turn a blind eye on people compromising their phones by escaping from the Play store walled garden and installing trojaned vers --- oh wait.

  28. ForthIsNotDead
    Unhappy

    Not playing it...

    ...even if it's free.

    I have better things to do with my time, like teaching my children how to read, write and do math.

    You know, having a life instead of wasting it staring into a phone.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    search for the game through a search engine

    I'm sure Google wouldn't be so vindictive as to let those scam sites occupy the first 10,000 pages of web search, surely!

  30. m-k

    millions of children

    if milions of parents let milions of children install anything without parental oversight... well. (and yes, I do have kids, with phones, what else :)

  31. David 138

    "There are two reasons for what we're doing. First, we want to have a direct relationship with our customers wherever we can

    I think they actually meant google takes 30% and google takes 30%. Updates will be a pain in the arse there is no reason to use to use their site. Like the rubbish unreal installer. Its all about the cash.

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