The exclusive period that Epic Games granted Samsung for Fortnite appears to be over, with all Android phones and tablets now able to download the beta version of the hit game through the game’s website. But only if they have an invite.
Android was the last major platform to support Fortnite and interest in the mobile version has been huge. The game has attracted more than 125 million players in the year since it launched, who play across PC, Xbox, Playstation, Nintendo and iOS devices.
At the recent unveiling of the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Epic Games chief executive Tim Sweeney said Fortnite was finally coming to Android, but only for owners of a range of Samsung devices.
Breaking with usual protocol, Epic Games has decided to not make Fortnite available through the Google Play app store. Instead, people hoping to install the Android version of the game will need to do it directly through Epic Games’ website.
The end of Samsung’s exclusive period with the game was first spotted by tech blog 9to5Google, who noted that Epic Games had opened up invites to play the game for non Samsung owners.
Fortnite for Android is still in beta, meaning eager players can only officially get the game with an invite from Fortnite’s developer. Anyone can sign up for an invite through Epic Games’ website, but it can take up to several days to receive.
Android handsets supported for the Android version of Fortnite include Google Pixel phones, the Essential Phone, as well as numerous devices from Asus, Huawei, LG and OnePlus.
Epic Games’ decision to not release the game through Google Play comes in protest to the share of sales the technology giant takes from apps in its app store. Google takes a 30 per cent cut, which is the same that Apple takes through its App Store.
The popularity of the game means Epic can afford to bypass Google Play, with Mr Sweeney stating that his company wants a “direct relationship with [its] customers on all platforms where that’s possible.”
He added: “The great thing about the internet and the digital revolution is that this is possible, now that physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required.”
The unconventional release method has led cyber security experts to warn Fortnite players of the risks involved when searching for download links to the game online.
Fortnite’s popularity has also had the unintended consequence of attracting hackers, who have targeted players of the game with scams, aiming to infect their computers, consoles and portable electronics with malware.
Last month, researchers at game-streaming platform Rainway uncovered a computer virus spread via links embedded in the description of YouTube videos offering Fortnite players free units of the in-game currency V-Bucks. At the time the virus was reported to YouTube and Epic Games, more than 78,000 people had been affected.