If you’re a gamer or at all interested in Fortnite, then you’ll be no stranger to the fact that Google has had an ongoing battle with Epic Games to get the popular title on the Google Play Store so that Chromebook and Android users can enjoy it. Today, it’s been discovered by The Verge that Google apparently offered Epic $147 million to make this happen!
Epic Games and Fortnite sidestep Google on its own turf
Back in 2018, the game actually arrived on Android devices, but not in a conventional method. Epic Games chose to sidestep the Play Store to avoid Google taking a cut of the massive revenue Fortnite would generate, and instead, had gamers sideload the Epic Games Store app on their devices before installing the game directly. It wasn’t pretty, and it certainly did consist of more steps that were more technical, but anyone wanting to play Fortnite would go through them, right?
Google was afraid of losing control
While the offer to port the title directly to the Play Store for a large sum of money occurred in discussions between the two giants back when their legal woes first began, the revelation of the amount is what’s new here, and the fact that Google was ready to go all out to make it possible. The $147M would be paid out over three years, ending in 2021 if the offer were accepted.
To no one’s surprise, Epic declined Google’s generous offer, knowing that it was probably a drop in the bucket compared to what it could earn by keeping it separate. According to The Verge, Google was afraid of something called the ‘contagion’ effect. Essentially, it was terrified that if it set a precedent by throwing their hands up in surrender to Epic’s sideloading method, other companies would do the same and ditch Google Play entirely, leaving Google itself bleeding massive amounts of money.
Fortnite eventually came to Google Play, but only briefly
In a twist of events, 2020 saw Epic Games relenting slightly by putting Fortnite on the Play Store. However, this truce was short-lived. Epic Games soon introduced direct payments within Fortnite, bypassing the store’s integrated payment method approach. Honestly, at this point, it seemed like Epic was just trying to piss Google off, and it worked. This act led to both Google and Apple removing the game from their respective stores. Immediately afterward, Epic Games filed lawsuits against both companies to prevent them from keeping a death grip on the market.
The Legal Aftermath
That lawsuit against Apple then escalated to a court trial, which unfortunately for Epic Games, didn’t quite go in their favor. This legal battle and its outcome have shown that app distribution and revenue sharing, while usually simple and straightforward, is a shifting landscape as companies as large as Epic get tired of having to pay out of pocket to host on the only real platform for each operating system for exposure.
Google and Apple nearly have a monopoly
It’s true that Google and Apple are both the only stores that customers have out of the box on their new devices, and things like F-Droid, the Aurora Store and even the idea of sideloading apps are discouraged and called “dangerous”. While it’s true that getting APK files from sites you aren’t familiar with can be detrimental to your personal privacy, large companies like Epic are trustworthy, and seem to want to change the narrative around the aforementioned monopoly tech giants like Google have on basically the entire world worth of customers.
Now, Google is being accused of allegedly destroying evidence in the Fortnite case, and though I would not doubt it for a second, we’ll have to wait and see how that unfolds. Let me know in the comments if you play Fortnite on Nvidia GeForce NOW, sideload it on your device, or just don’t care about the game at all to begin with. If nothing else, it’s fascinating to watch this unfold between the two companies.