Fortnite Game on Android devices
The free-to-play battle royale Fortnite game will be launching on Android soon. By this point, there’s little doubt in our minds that the game will launch as an exclusive for the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. We’ve obtained early access to the Fortnite Mobile on Android installer APK, and so we’ve dug into it to learn as much as we can before the game’s launch. So far, we’ve found more evidence that the game will launch on the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 but there are also signsit’ll launch on the new Samsung Galaxy Tab S4 as well. Now, we’ve also found strings and code that suggest the app will use Samsung’s In-App Purchase SDK, contained within Samsung’s app store called Samsung Galaxy Apps, to handle payments. This suggests that, at least for supported Samsung devices, the app will be available through Samsung Galaxy Apps.
Recently, we found evidence that Fortnite Mobile on Android won’t be available from the Google Play Store. This was later confirmed by Epic Games’ CEO, Tim Sweeney, who justified the decision by stating the company wants to have a “direct relationship” with their customers and that they didn’t see the benefit in forking over 30% of all net profits by distributing the app via the Play Store. (All Android apps submitted to the Google Play Store with in-app purchases consumed entirely within the app or service must use Google Play In-app Billing, the use of which allows Google to take a 30% cut of all sales.) Thus, Fortnite Mobile will be distributed from Epic Games’ website. But according to our teardown of the Fortnite Mobile on Android APK, that may not be the whole story here.
The Fortnite Mobile APK was first discovered by XDA Junior Member thesbros, an expert at data-mining. Decompilation and subsequent analysis of the Fortnite Mobile on Android APK were done with assistant from XDA Recognized Developer Quinny899, who is Kieron Quinn of Mighty Quinn Apps. The APK file we received is the installer for Fortnite version 5.20 which will go live on all other platforms this week. The APK and Fortnite Mobile battle royale-related data can be downloaded and installed, but the game will not run on accounts that haven’t been whitelisted by Epic. Nevertheless, the APK file provides some useful information ahead of Fortnite Mobile’s launch on Android.
Fortnite Mobile on Android – Not on the Google Play Store, but Samsung Galaxy Apps?
Given that the game will launch exclusively on Samsung Galaxy devices for up to a total of 4 months, it would make sense for Epic Games to offer Samsung Galaxy owners a way to download and install Fortnite Mobile without needing the Google Play Store but without having to side-load the APK from their website. Fortunately for Epic, Samsung’s app store has more generous revenue sharing terms than Google’s Play Store. According to the Terms and Conditions:
Any revenue generated and recovered by us (including through our designee, being a Samsung affiliate or a third party) arising from distribution of your Application using our Services (“Sales Proceeds”) shall be shared by Samsung and you at the rate of 30 per cent for Samsung and 70 per cent for you, and at the rate of 20 percent for Samsung and 80 percent for you if you are a Galaxy Apps Partner (“Revenue Share Ratio”). An alternative revenue share rate may be established upon mutual written agreement during the certification process for an Application.
Like Google, most apps on Samsung Galaxy Apps will have to revenue share with Samsung at a rate of 30% for Samsung and 70% for the developer. However, Samsung also has a “Galaxy Apps Partner” program which gives developers 80% of total revenue. Lastly, Samsung also states that an “alternative revenue share rate” may be made “upon mutual written agreement” by both Samsung and the developer. Maybe Epic Games negotiated a much more favorable revenue sharing rate than that offered by Google (perhaps as high as 100% of revenue for Epic in exchange for Samsung exclusivity). If Epic Games did negotiate with Samsung on a rate, it’s not something the company would disclose to us so we’ll never know.
Regardless, the latest version of the installer APK proves that Epic Games plans to use Samsung’s In-App Purchase SDK. As seen in the first set of strings, Fortnite will need the user to have the latest version of Galaxy Apps to be installed. Specifically, the game will need the user to have version 4.3.01.7 (the latest) installed. The strings state that “to purchase items, you need to install Samsung In-App Purchase” which is contained within Samsung Galaxy Apps. We can see that the installer app has many classes related to the In-App Purchase SDK by Samsung.
The decompiled code shown in the third screenshot only runs these checks if the “manufacturer” system property is “samsung.” This makes sense since Samsung Galaxy Apps is pre-installed on Samsung devices with Samsung Experience and cannot be run on non-Samsung devices. This also means that, for non-Samsung devices, Fortnite Mobile can’t use Samsung In-App Purchase to handle payments. We’re not sure how other Android devices will be able to buy V-Bucks, but it’s clear that it’ll be handled outside of the Google Play Store and with another in-app purchase solution.
Fortnite game on Android launching in Samsung Galaxy Apps shouldn’t be surprising, but knowing that the game won’t be launching on the Google Play Store because of disputes over revenue sharing makes this launch more interesting. Samsung Galaxy owners will be able to easily access Fortnite from a safe app store, while non-Samsung owners will have to grab the APK from Epic Games’ website. We’re not going to delve into the debate around whether Epic Games’ decision to distribute the app outside of the Play Store is a wise one, though, so take this information as you will.