Fortnite bypassing Play Store might be ingenious but also raises security concern

Fortnite wants to change distribution of apps on Android but will it make things better.

  • Published: July 31, 2018 11:02 AM IST
Fortnite 805px

Image credit: Epic Games

Fortnite, the biggest mobile game of the year, will soon be available on Android as well. Epic Games, the creator of the popular battle royale game is said to be planning to launch the game as an exclusive for Galaxy Note 9 next week. The leaks so far suggest that Fortnite will be exclusive for Galaxy Note 9 for the initial 30 days and will be available starting August 24, the day Note 9 goes on sale.

Fortnite has taken the gaming world by storm and it is believed to have garnered over $300 million in revenue since its launch. The game is available on iOS, Windows, Mac, PS4 and Xbox game consoles. Despite being the most popular game, its creators had kept it away from Android, the world’s most popular platform powering over billion active devices. While Epic Games did confirm its plan to bring the game to Android at the launch of its iOS counterpart, the company did not offer its timeline.

Now, that details of Fortnite‘s arrival on Android is detailed, the company seems to be adopting a very different approach. There are reports stating that Epic Games does not plan to offer the game via Google Play Store. Instead, it is believed to offer the game as an APK download file directly from its servers.

Business sense for Epic Games

The proof for this approach can be seen in a hidden set of instructions listed on the Fortnite Mobile webpage where the company has listed process of installing an app from outside the Play Store. The approach should not come as a surprise since most Android users are already familiar with the idea of installing apps from outside source like an APK or third-party app store.

Android is designed to be an open-source platform from the ground up and Google does not force developers to distribute their apps via the official channel, i.e. the Play Store. In order to install apps from an outside source, Android users simply need to flip a switch within settings. In fact, they don’t even need to go hunting for that setting and Android shows how to allow installing apps from third-party source when you try and install an app using APK for the first time.

When you install an app from a third-party source, those applications are not bound to terms and conditions imposed by Play Store. Those apps are also not necessarily screened for malicious content or codes like cryptocurrency mining. However, Epic Games also stands to not offer a split in revenue by bypassing the official channel. Google takes 30 percent of the revenue from app developers and by directly offering APK, Epic Games will not liable to split its revenue with the search giant.

Security Scare

The biggest scare with Fortnite being available via third-party sources is security. Scrolling through YouTube feed would have already shown you a ton of videos that start with Fortnite and often lead you to download bad apps or games. Since the official version is not out yet, there have been a number of misleading app suggestions on the platform.

For Epic Games, the challenge would be to ensure that its APK does not get into the hands of malicious developers. Fortnite is rated as “T for Teen” by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and it indicates that most parents would be comfortable with their kids downloading the application directly from the internet.

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Will Fortnite set a precedent?

This will be the biggest question. If Epic Games succeeds in distributing the game via internet then it could set a precedent for other app/game developers to follow suit. This might make Google Play Store redundant over a period of time, which is not ideal for Google and Android users at large. Bypassing Play Store can lead to increased spam and risk for broader set of users.

  • Published Date: July 31, 2018 11:02 AM IST