Google Play warns searchers that Fortnite “is not available”

Enlarge / The unique warning “fortnite” searchers receive on Google Play.Ron AmadeoGoogle is taking special steps to let Google Play users know they can’t download Fortnite to their Android device through the centralized app store. When users search for “fortnite” on Google Play, they’re now presented with a special message reading “Fortnite Battle Royale by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play.”

The message appears to be new and unique to Fortnite searches–looking for other popular titles that aren’t available on Google Play and/or Android phones doesn’t result in the same warning. The warning also does not appear when searching the Google Play store through a Web browser.

The top result of the “fortnite” search on Google Play remains the competing battle-royale game PUBG Mobile, as it was before Fortnite‘s Android release. This is likely the result of the algorithmically derived similarity between the games and not a specific, manually inserted dig at Epic’s similar game. That Google felt the need to insert a specific warning for “fortnite” searches on Google Play suggests heavy search interest in the ultra-popular game among Android users (Google has yet to respond to a request for comment from Ars Technica on this matter).

The Play store doesn’t offer much in the way of guidance for how users can actually download the Android version of the game, which requires opening up the phone’s permissions and installing an APK file downloaded directly from Epic’s website.

Epic has been pretty explicit that “avoiding [Google’s] 30 percent ‘store tax'” is a partial motivation for this unorthodox installation method. But it appears Epic also realizes the potential security holes this method could open up for Android users. As 9to5 Google notes, the Fortnite Installer includes a post-installation notification reminding users to “make your device as secure as possible” by disabling the permissions that Fortnite itself required to be installed.

As Epic noted in an FAQ with Eurogamer last week, “open platforms are an expression of freedom: the freedom of users to install the software they choose, and the freedom of developers to release software as they wish.

With that freedom comes responsibility.

You should look carefully at the source of software you’re installing, and only install software from sources you trust.”

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