The online gaming community is increasingly gathering figures in terms of users and revenue. According to Statista, there are over 2.6 billion gamers in the world as of 2020, which implies that one out of three people is a gamer. In a new report released by NewZoo, a total number of 2.7 billion gamers will contribute near to $159.3 billion to the gaming market in 2020. Hence, a lot of people are growing into gaming, including millennials. And one of the recent addictive games, Fortnite, can teach us a lot about app distribution in the Android environment. 

What is Fortnite?

Fortnite is a battle royale game designed and launched by Epic Games in 2017. It’s a game that pits 100 players together to fight it out until there is one man standing as the last survivor. The other 99 characters might be controlled by other players or by the game system. Asides the fact that it’s an actual third-person shooter game, it also combines the element of building, crafting, and mining to ensure survival in the most strategic places. 

Since its release, it has grown to be one of the most popular games and it’s a case of study for us due to two main reasons: on the first hand, Fortnite is a successful Android game, is comparable to Pokemon GO or Super Mario Run, and has become a global phenomenon since its inception. It has garnered over 350 million gamers across the world, of which two-thirds of the players are within the ages of 18-24 – and its profits can be counted in the millions of dollars per month! On the othe hand, Epic Games didn’t release Fortnite in Google Play and that’s a shock for many in the Android app industry. By paying attention to the words of the team we can see the reasons behind this business decision. 

Developers aren’t happy with Google Play 

 
Epic Games launched Fortnite version for Android devices in 2018 but, as said, they took a very drastic decision that not every developer can take. Instead of distributing it in the most popular Android Store, Google Play, they made it available for users worldwide from a direct download link in their website. As stated by Epic Games themselves, the reason behind this was that they believe Google’s conditions were unfair since they would suffer tremendous revenue cuts due to the 30% commission Google’s Play Store applies to all in-app purchases. 

We can clearly identify two important factors here: developers are not happy with Google Play Store conditions for app distribution, and they have been open about it for a while now. In addition, Epic Games proved that there are other options for a fairer app distribution out there. And actually, it’s poved to be a success since Fortnite has amounted profits like not many other Android apps have seen: until the end of 2019, the game made revenue for almost 2 billion USD. 

The fact that it’s one of the most popular Android games to be download by a third-party store, Epic Games Store, also highlighted something that many players of the app ecosystem have been complaining about. Google, as the owner of Android Operating System itself, makes it very hard for users to have the freedom to choose their source of apps and, as Epic Games spokesman put it, “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” (as published in TechCrunch). 

Monetization of Fortnite

According to SuperData Research, Fortnite is the fourth-highest grossing video game for consoles. Fortnite is free to play, however, season battles withing the game have to be bought. A full season battle lasts up to three months, which opens rewards such as skins. And as of 2019, Fortnite has generated revenues of $1.8 billion. 

Fortnite has its own currency known as V-bucks. V-bucks can be bought with cash or gotten from buying season battle passes. V-bucks allow players to purchase in-game add-ons. Hence, it’s safe to say that Fortnite generates money via in-app purchases, buying of consoles, and other microtransactions. 

Wrapping up

Fortnite has basically proven that Google’s position in Android app distribution is not satisfying app creators and it’s even damaging users’ access to content. Moreover, in 2018 Fortnite proved that there are alternatives out there that are developers can look into.