Fortnite is coming to Android, but it’s not coming in the way you’d expect.
In case you haven’t noticed, Fortnite is taking over the world. Their total player count across all platforms worldwide recently hit 125 million. That’s like a quarter of the entire United States playing one video game. More people play Fortnite than they do watch the Super Bowl, and by a wide margin.
Which is to say, Fortnite is huge.
And now it’s set to get even bigger. After invading iPhones earlier in March, it’s set to get a wider release on Android in the coming days. The game is already available to Samsung owners via the Samsung app store, but soon it’ll be available for all Android users regardless of corporate fealty.
Unfortunately, there is a catch. Fortnite won’t be downloadable from Google Play, the official Android app store. Instead, you’ll have to download it directly from developer Epic Games, and you’ll have to disable some default security settings to do it.
On the surface, that doesn’t sound like too much of a hassle, but it’s not the hassle of fiddling with your phone’s settings that is the problem. The problem is just how many people will do it, and how many will probably forget to flip that security setting back on once they’re done.
For an Android phone to download anything other than from the Google Play app store requires you to disable a setting that prevents you from downloading third-party software. On iPhones that setting doesn’t exist, but Android is supposed to be all open-source and that means occasionally you want to download and install an app that Google doesn’t know about.
The problem there is that it’s super easy for someone to make a fake version of Fortnite, bundle it with a trojan virus, and then advertise the infected version as the real thing. Suddenly there are millions of infected phones around the world all because Epic didn’t want to go through official channels.
And why not? Quite simply because Google charges 30% on all app-store purchases. It’s the same as iPhone, but iPhone doesn’t allow users to bypass the App Store--Android does. And 30% of all sales on a game the size of Fortnite means millions, possibly billions in additional revenue.
Is it worth a potential mobile digital apocalypse? Maybe. Or Maybe this will bring everyone back to Apple. We’ll have to see how this all pans out.