Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has taken Google to task after the company publicly released details about a flaw in Fortnite's security.
In the little more than a year that Fortnite has been around, the video game has only continued to get bigger and more popular, gaining more players and being added to more platforms. However, the biggest step forward came this summer. Fortnite's developers Epic finally made the game available on Android, believing that would lead to it being downloaded as many as 250 million more times.
It hasn't exactly been the smoothest of releases, though. Instead of simply making Fortnite available via the Google Play store, Epic decided to release it on its own website. Epic CEO, Tim Sweeney explained that the company didn't believe that the 30% cut Google takes from sales of apps on its store is representative of how much work they put in, hence cutting out the middle man.
Android is an open platform. We released software for it. When Google identified a security flaw, we worked around the clock (literally) to fix it and release an update.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 25, 2018
The only irresponsible thing here is Google’s rapid public release of technical details.
As you can imagine, Google wasn't happy about this. A game as popular as Fortnite, that's a lot of potential revenue slipping through Google's fingers. Last week, a Google engineer discovered a flaw in Fortnite's security on Android and publicly posted intricate details about it. Some might say it's only fair to make their users aware of it, but Sweeney has labeled it a way "to score cheap PR points."
We asked Google to hold the disclosure until the update was more widely installed. They refused, creating an unnecessary risk for Android users in order to score cheap PR points.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 25, 2018
Sweeney has been replying to tweets all weekend and into this week addressing the situation, questioning why Google had to make the information public at all. In fact, the Epic CEO believes that by revealing the details of the flaw before it was fixed, Google has actually put its users in even more danger of being hacked. "Why the rapid public release of technical details? That does nothing but give hackers a chance to target unpatched users," Sweeney wrote on Twitter.
I grant that Google finding a flaw in our software and sourcing stories about the fact of it is a valid PR strategy.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 25, 2018
But why the rapid public release of technical details? That does nothing but give hackers a chance to target unpatched users.
Business Insider contacted Google about the flaw and Sweeney's comments and had a lot less to say, simply stating that it picked up on a vulnerability in the Fortnite installer, informed Epic, and the issue was fixed. Clearly, the relationship between Google and Epic is currently not a good one, as you might expect, and there will likely be further attempts to score PR points at the other's expense from both companies.