Distribution platforms are important. They help the little guy get his product out there. What if you don’t need one, though? That was the situation Epic Games found themselves in when they released Fortnite Battle Royale for Android on August 9th. A game that pulls in 40 million players a month surely doesn’t need any help getting attention.

Epic Games chose instead to offer the game from their own website, bypassing Google Play, something that the platform does allow. Distribution platforms take a cut of the profits, so by sidestepping Google, Epic Games is saving money. Google is feeling the hurt, though, to the tune of a possible $50 million.

Fortnite launched on iOS earlier this year and since then Apple has pocketed about $54 million, thanks to its 30 percent cut of all in-app purchases. Epic isn’t intentionally sticking it to Google while favoring Apple, however. Apple requires all apps to go through the App Store, leaving them with no choice. There’s no doubt that the developer would’ve gone the direct route on iOS that they did on Android if that were an option.

This sets a worrying precedent, one that Google is actively trying to deal with while not doubling back on their open platform policies. Yes, Android devices can download applications not available on the Google Play store, but doing so is risky without the safegaurds the Play store offers.

On their end, Google is listing Fortnite in their store – just not for download. Typically unavailable apps simply wouldn’t pop up in a search, but Google displays a special message letting people know that Fortnite isn’t available through the store.

Publishers have every right to maximize their profits, but they are using Google’s platform, so it’s not crazy for Google to want in on the action. Plus, grabbing apps from other sources isn’t always straightforward. That, combined with the potential threat of malware, make a good case for distributing through the Play store.

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