Epic Games confirmed it will launch an Android version of its hit game Fortnite outside of Google Play, as it also revealed availability will be limited to recently launched, high-end, devices.

In a question and answer article published by Eurogamer, Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney said on open platforms “like PC, Mac and Android”, its aim is to take games directly to customers. Indeed, he acknowledged it would have done the same for iOS had the opportunity been available.

Avoiding Google’s 30 per cent fee is “part of Epic’s motivation”. Sweeney argued its 70 per cent must pay for developing, operating and supporting games, and the 30 per cent charge is “disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth and customer service”.

“We’re intimately familiar with these costs from our experience operating Fortnite as a direct-to-consumer service on PC and Mac,” he said.

Cutting out the middleman also offers it a direct relationship with customers.

Software safety
There are, of course, drawbacks to the approach. Users will need to change device settings to accept apps from outside of Google Play, bypassing the security mechanisms of the Google Store: counterfeit software packages are also a risk.

Sweeney said in the PC world, gamers have “proven able to adopt safe software practices” and devices also offer robust, permissions-based security: “In our view, this is the way all computer and smartphone platforms should provide security, rather than entrusting one monopoly app store as the arbiter of what software users are allowed to obtain,” it continued.

Fortnite is also not set to be a mass-market proposition. Sweeney said Epic Games expectations for 2018 are “modest”, as the Android game offers the “full PC and console experience,” meaning only 250 million of the 2.5 billion Android devices in the market can run the game.

Engadget reported the app may be made available via Samsung’s app store. While it was suggested the game will be a Samsung exclusive, Sweeney made no reference to this in his Eurogamer comments.