After 18 months of holding out, Epic has decided to put Fortnite on the Google Play Store despite Google refusing to lower its 30 percent cut.
In a statement to Polygon, Epic explains its reasoning for bringing Fortnite to Google's officially sanctioned app portal in spit of disagreements over revenue splits with the tech giant. In it, Epic accuses Google of leveraging several tactics against software that chooses to forgo the Play store process:
Google puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage, through technical and business measures such as scary, repetitive security pop-ups for downloaded and updated software, restrictive manufacturer and carrier agreements and dealings, Google public relations characterizing third party software sources as malware, and new efforts such as Google Play Protect to outright block software obtained outside the Google Play store.
"We hope that Google will revise its policies and business dealings in the near future," Epic adds, "so that all developers are free to reach and engage in commerce with customers on Android and in the Play Store through open services, including payment services, that can compete on a level playing field." Back in August of 2018 when Fortnite launched on Android, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said a 30 percent cut "is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform" on an open platform.
In early 2019, Google CEO Sundar Pichai told investors that Google had no plans to lower its cut from the Play store. By that time, Epic had already launched the Epic Games Store—offering an 88/12 split more generous than Google's or that of Steam—and Google had publicly disclosed a vulnerability present in Epic's Fortnite launcher for Android, a move Sweeney called "irresponsible."
For the time being, it seems Epic has thrown in the towel on this battle. Better, perhaps, to have a 70 percent cut and greater reach to the billions of active Android devices than to be held back by Google's security practices, warranted or otherwise.