Google has removed Fortnite from the Play Store following Apple’s recent decision to also remove the popular gaming app from its App Store.
“The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores,” Google says in a statement explaining their decision to remove the Fortnite app. “For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”
As Google mentions in their statement, it’s still possible to install Fortnite on Android devices. You’ll just need to directly install the game via Epic’s own website or the Samsung Galaxy store. Still, Google Play is definitively the most popular Android app market, and we imagine that many Android users who have not already downloaded Fortnite will be very confused when they try to do so via that service.
Just as it was with Apple, this situation is really all about transactions and fees.
To recap, Epic recently updated the mobile versions of Fortnite as to allow users to purchase in-game funds and other microtransactions directly from Epic rather than via the Google Play Store and App Store. Both Google and Apple charge a 30% fee for all in-app transactions (although both providers offer some exceptions to that rule), which Epic feels is far too high and a big part of the greater problem with the sometimes restrictive nature of the mobile ecosystems.
The situation with Google is a bit different than the one with Apple, though. As we’ve already mentioned, this doesn’t completely prevent you from being able to download and play Fortnite on an Android device whereas Apple’s block of the App does prevent future sanctioned Fortnite downloads and updates.
What’s especially interesting in this case is that Google and Epic have been down this road before. Fortnite was not initially available via the Google Play Store, but Epic eventually relented and decided to pay Google’s 30% fee. Even at the time, though, they noted that Google was making it increasingly more difficult to host Android software outside of the Google Play Store and were even going so far as to sometimes identify such programs as malware.
As we noted in our breakdown of the Apple problem, this problem is really about much more than the money. The Epic Games Store founded on the belief that developers shouldn’t have to pay such high fees to digital storefront providers (such as Valve/Steam) and Epic believes that such fees and gatekeeping could hinder the development of cloud technology and other advances.