Google Denies Epic Games’ Billing Exception Request for Fortnite Mobile
Fortnite for Android made its debut alongside the Galaxy Note 9 back in 2018. Even before it's release, rumors indicated that it wouldn't make its way to the Google Play Store. Even today, one has to download it off the official Epic Games website or the Galaxy Store. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeny said in a statement that Epic decided to stay off the Play Store was to avoid Google's 30% tax on all in-app purchases. Given Fortnite's popularity, the game was bound to generate a decent amount in revenue and it is hard to fault Epic Games on its decision to opt-out of sharing its revenue with Google.
There are, however, many inherent disadvantages to not hosting your app on the Play Store. A good chunk of Android users rely on the Play Store exclusively for their apps, and they're unlikely to use a third-party source. Although the official Epic Games website is safe, a lot of unscrupulous elements out there who'll attempt to prey on players seeking to play Fortnite on Android. Google even went as far as notifying users that Fortnite was not officially available on the Play Store.
It appears that Epic wanted Fortnite to make its way to the Play Store at some point. A source told 9to5google that the company requested Google to host Fortnite, minus Google's 30% tax. Epic Games wanted to use its own payment portal instead of the one integrated into the Play Store. Google had the following to say about the matter:
“Android enables multiple app stores and choices for developers to distribute apps. 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 recognizes the value of Google Play and expect them to participate under the same terms as other developers.”
It was rather optimistic of Epic Games to assume that Google would grant it an exception. Even publishers such as Tencent and Supercell have to play by the Play Store rules, so it is hardly surprising that Google denied Epic Games' request. Failure to use the Play Store's billing system is a direct violation of Google's policies.
The best Epic Games could do is negotiate with Google to reduce that 30% cut to a lower number. Hopefully, both parties come to an agreement to get Fortnite on the Play Store. Given the amount of money people spend on Fortnite, it shouldn't be too hard for them to come to an agreement.