Fortnite loses fight to list app on Google Play without paying full fee

Google has rejected an attempt by Epic Games to list its hit game Fortnite on the Play Store without paying the standard app charge.

It is the latest in a long-running dispute between the two companies, which revolves around the 30 per cent fee Google takes for Android apps listed on its official app store. It also covers in-app purchases, which free-to-play games like Fortnite rely upon for revenue.

In a statement to The Independent, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said that the charge was unfair for all app developers, considering the market dominance of the Play Store.

“We believe this form of tying of a mandatory payment service with a 30 per cent fee is illegal in the case of a distribution platform with over 50 per cent market share,” he said.

Google said the fee was necessary to ensure the security of apps being offered through the online store, while also allowing for future investment into the platform.

Fortnite was released on Android devices last year but did not launch it the traditional way of publishing it on the Google Play Store.

Instead it was only made available for download exclusively through Epic’s website, with Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney claiming that the tech giant took a disproportionate cut of the sales through its app store.

He said at the time that he believed gamers would benefit “from competition among software sources on Android”.

Mr Sweeney said: “The great thing about the internet and the digital revolution is that.. physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required.”

The 30 per cent cut that Google requests is the same as that charged by Apple through its official App Store, where Fortnite is also available. Apple has much tighter controls for its operating system and online store, meaning it would not be possible for Epic Games to bypass it in the same way.

Some security experts warn that Epic Games is putting Fortnite players at risk to cyber criminals by refusing to list the game on the Google Play Store.

Fake versions of the app spread online during the 2018 launch period in an attempt to trick people who might be searching for the Android version. Some of these were found to contain ransomware, which has the ability to hijack a person’s device until a ransom is paid.


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