Fortnite players on Android devices are at risk of downloading malware infections to their phones, security experts have warned. This is due in part to Epic Games’ decision to bypass the Google Play Store and make the game available on their own website.
Android devices are more susceptible to malware threats, with one study finding 343 new Android malware samples every hour in 2017. Users are advised to download apps only from the Google Play Store for protection, however, Fortnite makers have decided to publish the game on the Epic Games website instead.
By offering the game on their own website, Epic Games will retain the 30% revenue share that Google would gain from hosting the app on the Play Store. However, a direct download means that players will not get the security provisions afforded to apps downloaded through the Play Store, including malware screening.
Even if the official version of the game is malware-free, players will be at risk of unknowingly downloading a malware-loaded version of the game from a copycat site. Also, to access the Fortnite installer, users must turn off a built-in Android feature intended to protect the device from malware.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney told the Guardian that the decision to publish the game on the company website was made to create a direct relationship between company and customer.
He said that Epic Games, “wants to have a direct relationship with our customers on all platforms where possible…physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android.”
Sweeney also acknowledged avoiding the 30% store fee was part of the decision. He noted that a large revenue share is understandable in the world of console games, where device manufacturers bear the cost of developing, manufacturing, and marketing hardware; but in applications, “30% is disproportionate to the costs of the services that these stores perform.”
In addition, bypassing the Google Play Store may make it easier to tap into the Chinese market, where the Play Store is unavailable. Epic Games is partially owned by Tencent, publisher of the popular Player Unknown Battlegrounds in China.