It might seem strange to everybody, but Epic has only just decided to put Fortnite on the Google Play Store.
Admittedly, there is a tonne of backstory to it. It isn’t just a case of Epic forgetting about the platform entirely.
18 months ago, Android users could download the game via third-party software. This, of course, operates outside of Google’s own official marketplace.
Epic has lambasted Google for penalising third-party software. In fact, its because of Google’s restrictive usage of third-party software Epic yielded in the first place.
Whenever a user tries to install an app through non-official means, Google throws up multiple warnings of potential security issues. Google even tries to make it’s users assume anything not-Play Store-approved is equal to malware.
In a statement on Fortnite‘s Play Store debut, Epic said:
“After 18 months of operating Fortnite on Android outside of the Google Play Store, we’ve come to a basic realisation. Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage. [This is done] through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings. [As such] Google public relations characterises third-party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store”.
It’s a rather scathing comment on Google’s practices. As a result of Fortnite being on the Play Store, Epic now has to pay Google its mandated 30% cut. This is applicable to all in-app purchases. And with a game is as in-app purchase-heavy as Fortnite, you can imagine how much money that will equate to.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has not been too pleasant about Google (and Apple) when it comes to these practices. Back in August 2018, Sweeney said:
“The 30% store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70% must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games.
30% is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service”.The Verge
In-light of this recent announcement, Sweeney added;
“We hope that Google will revise its policies and business dealings in the near future. [In doing so] all developers are free to reach and engage in commerce with customers on Android and in the Play Store through open services. [These include] payment services, that can compete on a level playing field”.
This isn’t the first time Epic has tried to fight against the 30% Google tax. Back in December, Epic attempted to get an exemption, calling it an “illegal” implementation for any platform with more than a 50% market share. (For context there, the vast majority of mobile game users are reported to be Android users).
Epic said at the time:
“Epic doesn’t seek a special exception for ourselves; rather we expect to see a general change to smartphone industry practices in this regard. We have asked that Google not enforce its publicly stated expectation that products distributed through Google Play use Google’s payment service for in-app purchase”.
As you may have gathered, Google shot down the request, and responded saying:
“Google Play has a business model and billing policy that allow us to invest in our platform and tools to help developers build successful businesses while keeping users safe. We welcome any developer that recognises the value of Google Play and expect them to participate under the same terms as other developers”.
One could argue that 30% is too large a cut for Google. After all, a lot of indie developers put out mobile games. However, for a company like Epic to complain seems ridiculous, even if there is a hint of benevolence in their tone. What do you think of this? Is Google being greedy by taking a 30% cut from all in-app purchases? Or do you agree that it helps make the Play Store a better place? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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