Earlier this year Fortnite extended its dominance across platforms by releasing the game on the Nintendo Switch and iOS. Fortnite for Android is now coming soon, but through a very unconventional method, which could put thousands of devices at risk.
Android is an open operating system, meaning you can install programs that are not served through the official Google Play store. If you are running Android Nougat or lower, you can toggle a setting to allow for these installations. Android Oreo has since removed the toggle and now only asks you to confirm the security warnings for these sideloaded apps as you install them.
Risks of Sideloaded Apps
When you toggle the setting to allow sideloaded apps to be installed, you open up a security risk that could allow other malicious applications to be installed as you browse the internet through your device. In order to install Fortnite for Android, when it is released, it will require you to toggle this setting if you are not running Android Oreo.
The creator of Fortnite, Epic Games, will soon add a “download” button to its fortnite.com website. If you are running Android, you will be able to download the game and sideload it onto your device. A few words of warning, however, if you are planning on doing this.
Keeping your device safe if you download Fortnite for Android
First, make sure you are downloading the game ONLY from fortnite.com. If you do a Google search for “Fornite for Android” I’m sure there are already malicious folks setting up websites with fake downloads as we speak. All I will say about that is that Epic Games needs to release it quickly now that they’ve made the announcement. You now know you will be asked to sideload the app, it will be even easier for attackers to trick you into downloading THEIR app. If they can get their malicious site up before Epic Games adds their download button MANY people will be tricked by the false pages that pop up while Epic is still getting theirs together.
Second, if you are running anything but Android Oreo, make sure to go back and toggle the setting to allow sideloaded apps back to the off position. Having this setting on at all times puts your device at serious risk for other malware to get installed without your knowledge.
Why is Epic Games doing this?
The creator of Epic Games is mainly releasing the application this way because they don’t want to share any profits with Google Play. When you do an in-app purchase through a game or application in the Google Play store, Google takes 30%. To be fair, Apple also takes 30%, but Epic Games has no ability to circumvent the App Store for an Apple device. The owner did say if they could do it on iOS too, they would.
Greed aside (since I’m fairly certain Epic is making plenty of money even if Android and iOS got a 30% cut), they are also providing the sideloaded app because they really don’t need the publicity from the Google Play store. People are no longer asking “What is Fortnite?” Everyone already knows about the game, and are already playing the game through other platforms. People will search for their app, they don’t need Google promoting it.
While Epic Games is getting upset about Google’s monopoly over in-app purchases, they still aren’t throwing the same amount of shade Apple’s way, even though the policies are exactly the same. Epic Games really should be praising Google for even allowing the ability for them to do this, the same opportunity they do NOT have with iOS. It appears that the only true monopoly exists for Apple, while with Google, even if there are security warnings, you are still offered a choice.