Fortnite Maker Burns Google Again With Planned Storefront

Epic Games created Fortnite: Battle Royale, a game so popular that it managed to find wide success on Android despite skipping the Play Store, and now the studio wants to launch its own storefront on Android, among other platforms. The planned storefront's upfront fee has yet to be disclosed, but the revenue share for developers would be set at a hard 88%, no matter which engine they use. This means that developers would be getting more than they would on either Google Play or Steam, and the fee includes the usual 5% take for the use of Unreal Engine 4, should a game using the engine be posted to Epic's storefront.

Background: Epic Games was historically known for Unreal Engine, the powerful and popular engine behind some of the biggest names and biggest innovations in gaming. The studio trotted out Fortnite: Battle Royale alongside its oft-ignored single player mode back in 2017, and it had an instant hit on its hands. The free game garnered such absolutely massive popularity that it launched and enhanced the careers of many streamers, such as Samsung darling and Fortnite pro Ninja. That memeworthy popularity led Epic Games to sidestep the Play Store in launching Fortnite on Android, and the controversial move's rough start has smoothed out considerably at this point. Using Fortnite's transaction marketplace as a stable start, Epic has dipped a hand in the ecommerce world and decided it can use that knowledge and power to offer developers and gamers an alternative to the big app and game stores. Along with the low takes on developer revenue, the storefront will be designed to connect developers, content creators, and gamers in new ways, allowing for cross-promotion opportunities and direct troubleshooting, among other uses. There will also be no driving of paid results in the search algorithm, and no ads for competing games on developers' game pages, two problems that have drawn Valve considerable ire on its Steam platform despite the ubiquitous storefront becoming practically synonymous with PC gaming over the last decade or so.

Impact: Put simply, this is a freakishly huge gamble. Epic Games is going to invest no small amount of manpower and capital into the initial creation and maintenance of a storefront, and will even be eating into its own profits with an initial promotion that allows developers to hook up with content creators on the platform to promote their games for free and sidestep the usual 5% profit share on that maneuver for a whole two years. Given how big of a feature this is likely to turn out to be, this move pretty much means that Epic will be eating about a quarter of its profit from the storefront, at least, for the first two years. Such a long-term and large-scale gamble is bold indeed, and is a kind of boldness that doesn't come from nowhere. Given its success with Unreal Engine 4 and Fortnite, Epic is in about as good a position as any other company to launch a storefront, but only time will tell if it will accomplish its disruptive goals.

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