Will Epic Games Change The Way Smartphone Users Download Apps?
You might think that the release of the world’s most popular game (Fortnite) on the world’s most popular mobile platform (Android) would already be pretty big news. Epic Games, however, has grabbed even more headlines by announcing it will launch the game without the aid of the world’s largest app marketplace (Google’s Play Store).
There aren’t too many app developers who would risk such a high profile launch without such a highly visible and proven distribution channel on their side, but when you have a product that gamers are literally salivating to get their hands on – what are the risks?
The Billion Dollar Upside of Going Direct
There is, of course, a huge upside for the developers, who will avoid the 30 percent fee charged by the Google Play Store for in-app purchases.
While many app developers may be happy (perhaps begrudgingly) to swallow these fees as an unavoidable cost-of-sale, for Epic Games, who in May 2018 alone earned $318-million from in-app purchases in the game, this represents a significant amount more than small change.
When you consider a 30 percent fee on these current revenues would translate into a $90-million monthly marketing budget (more than $1-billion over a 12-month period), it’s easy to see why Epic wants to bypass the marketplace for the Android platform launch.
Note: It will be interesting to see if the Google Play Store adapts its business model to stem the lost opportunities from companies like Epic going direct. A $1 billion dollar win for Epic is, after all, a $1-billion loss for Google. It’s also interesting to note that Epic Games has alluded that it would have removed Fortnite from the Apple App Store (which also charges a 30 percent fee) – if there was another way of accessing the “walled garden” iOS operating system.
Speaking to the media, Tim Sweeny, Epic Games CEO, said: “Epic’s goal is to bring its games directly to customers. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android. Competition among services gives consumers lots of great choices and enables the best to succeed based on merit.”
The Future of Downloads – Opportunities and Threats
While only a handful of app developers will have the clout to bypass the Google Play Store completely, Epic Games may encourage others to explore a more multi-channel route to market and this will undoubtedly include delivering apps direct to consumers.
Going direct represents a number of opportunities and threats to both app developers and consumers.
On the positive side, a direct relationship enables a developer to build a better understanding of its app users and therefore better tailor future developments to suit their needs. A greater share of revenue should also mean additional resources are available to update existing apps and develop new ones.
On the negative side, there is concern about fraudsters targeting app users via unofficial download sites and links and infecting devices with viruses and malware. The popularity of Fortnite on other platforms has led to a number of high-profile attempts to dupe gamers into downloading illegitimate software. The negative experience of swindled downloaders and the subsequent media headlines about the threat of such scams don’t do anyone in the app industry any favors. Because people’s smartphones are so important to them, just one bad experience might make someone think twice about ever downloading another app again.
Further Reading: Fortnite: The Battle Royale Against Malware
Alternative Routes to Market
Thankfully, there are alternative and more secure routes to market for app developers who want to bypass the Google Play Store, have greater control over their marketing budget and avoid paths potentially tarnished by fraudulent activities.
Digital Turbine helps app developers position the right app in front of the right person at the right time by working with smartphone manufacturers (OEMs) and networks and preloading apps on specific devices and SIM cards, creating a seamless user experience for the device-owners straight out-of-the-box.
Further Reading: Preloaded Apps Deliver Credibility, Security, and Engagement.
Smart Folders are another simple but highly effective route to market from Digital Turbine, delivering relevant apps with single-click installs to devices based on the owners’ specific interests. There are no “dodgy” download links or intrusive web-based forms, guaranteeing user security.
Thanks to Digital Turbine’s global network of partners, app developers can select the audience they want to reach based on very specific criteria which can be tailored to suit any budget. Digital Turbine can even guarantee results with cost-per-activation pricing.
A Multi-Channel Route to App Success
To learn more about how adopting a multi-channel approach to app delivery can help you win new users and retain greater control over your marketing budgets and profits, speak to one of our app delivery experts today.