Why Fortnite’s Risky Android Launch Strategy Might Not Pay Off

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Within the cell recreation area, it’s uncommon to seek out anybody who hasn’t but heard of world gaming phenomenon Fortnite Battle Royale. After hitting $1B in income in lower than a yr, Epic Video games’ Fortnite is on observe to change into essentially the most financially profitable free recreation on consoles of all time.


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The meteoric success of this multiplayer shooter recreation has nearly by no means been witnessed earlier than. Initially simply obtainable on desktop and consoles, the sport launched on iOS and has since obtained over 100M installs, earned an estimated $160M in income, and has seen day by day cell revenues of as much as $2M. The sport is at the moment on tempo to hit half a billion {dollars} in in-app buy income round April 2019. Astonishingly, these milestones have been primarily based off the sport being obtainable solely on the Apple App Store.

Launching an app on one platform first is a standard technique for cell recreation publishers. It garners the assist of Apple or Google and results in heavy that includes and promoting throughout the prime charts, urged app suggestions, and the app shops’ homepages. Nonetheless, Epic Video games are about to make use of a technique that’s by no means been seen in western markets—bypassing the Google Play Store altogether (and its 30% payment) and channeling Android downloads by means of an Android Package Kit (APK) obtain on their web site.

However, will this turn into a worthwhile enterprise technique?

In Half 1 of this 2-part submit sequence, we’re unpacking Epic Video games’ controversial distribution technique, figuring out the potential conversion rate (CVR) drawbacks, and estimating the loss in potential installs they might expertise by not launching on Google Play. Half 2 will delve into how we consider this technique will impression the cell app ecosystem as a complete.

Fortnite Defies Mainstream Cell App Distribution Methods

Normally, bypassing the Google Play Store represents a big danger for Epic Video games, an 8-digit loss for Google, and reinforcement of Apple’s closed platform mannequin. We’ll analyze the implications of this choice, however first, right here’s a recap of how Epic Video games’ daring technique shortly unfolded (straight from Marc Andreesen’s playbook)…

Epic Video games’ Fortnite: Timeline from Desktop to Cell App Launch

  • March 2017: Utilizing Epic Video games’ Unreal Engine 4, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) launches an early entry title on desktop. After vital success throughout that interval, they absolutely launch in December 2017. In March 2018, they launch a cell model on each Google Play and the App Store.
  • September 2017: Fortnite launches their very own model of the Battle Royale style on desktop and consoles, shortly capitalizing on the evident product-market match of PUBG’s hit. PUBG clone or not, Fortnite begins to point out indicators of turning into an enormous success.
  • April 2018: Fortnite Battle Royale launches solely on the iOS App Store. After amassing an extremely enthusiastic group of avid gamers on desktop and console, Fortnite creates leverage over the app Storeplatforms and really doubtless negotiated to obtain Apple’s full assist by solely launching on iOS. Selecting iOS over Android almost definitely made sense for a number of causes:
    • Monetization and person acquisition (UA) prices on iOS are usually greater, making Apple’s assist that rather more useful.
    • Figuring out they may probably launch outdoors of the Play Store, constructing hype and attracting a fair wider participant viewers had been key to attaining success. As Fortnite grows on iOS, Android customers should wait patiently, which creates anticipation and makes them much more desperate to obtain the sport on their gadgets any manner they will.
  • August 2018: Epic Video games select to bypass launching Fortnite on the Google Play Store, which shocks your entire app developer ecosystem (doubtless after understanding the economics of decrease conversions, which we’ll contact on under). Players are as an alternative directed to Fortnite’s web site to obtain an APK file to their Android system—an expertise that provides a number of intimidating steps to the set up funnel.


Bypassing the Google Play Store May Result in Decrease Cell App Installs

So, what are the possibilities Epic Video games will succeed? At a high-level, launching outdoors of the Google Play Store means:

  1. A lower in CVR because of a sloppy and unfamiliar APK obtain funnel, which we showcase in direction of the top of this submit.
  2. Much less installs because of safety issues. Downloading a file outdoors of the safe Play Storeopens up the chance for malware to infiltrate Android gadgets, and customers could also be tricked into downloading suspicious copycat apps by means of different web sites. In reality, this has already occurred. That is particularly regarding for Fortnite’s youthful gamers who might not know the distinction between reliable or fraudulent websites. Though Google mentions that Fortnite Battle Royale isn’t obtainable on the Play Store when individuals straight seek for it (which prevents the proliferation of pretend Fortnite apps), they don’t level individuals to the reliable web site to obtain it. These safety vulnerabilities may simply deter potential installers.
  3. Decrease installs pushed by the dearth of discovery by means of the Play Store’s prime charts, featured apps part within the homepage, and search. It will particularly restrict Epic’s potential to transform informal, mid-core, and non-gamers that in any other case may have passively found the sport whereas looking the Play Store.
  4. Elevated competitors by PUBG and future Battle Royale clones who will get Google Play’s assist. In reality, Google highlighted PUBG on its homescreen and at the moment showcases PUBG and different prime opponents when customers seek for Fortnite on the Play Store.

General, Epic Video games are creating an enormous barrier to entry whereas on the identical time eradicating free promoting that Google would have positively accomplished to spice up its personal income. As you’ll be able to see within the picture above, Google have already begun selling Fortnite’s prime opponents on the Play Store each within the homepage and Search Outcomes Web page.

Given the above components, let’s dig just a little deeper and estimate simply how a lot of an impression this choice may have on their whole installs and CVR…

Calculating Fortnite’s Potential Lack of Installs With out Google Play’s Help

Google Play Set up Funnel

On the Google Play Store, all installs come from both natural or paid visitors.

Natural visitors consists of installs that come from throughout the Play Store both by means of:

  • Search, the place customers uncover your StoreItemizing by straight trying to find your model, or by looking out related key phrases and seeing your app or recreation within the Search Outcomes Web page.
  • Browse, the place customers uncover your StoreItemizing by means of prime charts, featured app pages, or Google Play’s navigation tabs.

Paid visitors consists of installs from customers who arrive from paid UA campaigns by means of sources comparable to Fb, Google, or community visitors.

Primarily based on our analyses of the Google Play Store Listings of main cell recreation publishers, we’ve discovered that about 51% of installs on Google Play come from natural visitors and 49% of installs come from paid visitors. Though Google takes a 30% payment for distributing on its platform, it’s evident that the Play Store enhances app and recreation discoverability and drives natural conversion.

For an extremely robust model like Fortnite, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think about that round 90% of their installs at the moment come from natural sources given the quantity of hype surrounding the sport. Nonetheless, because the hype dies down, this share is prone to transfer nearer to 60%, which is the proportion we use in our under calculations.

Fortnite’s Estimated Set up Funnel

Earlier than we get into Fornite’s potential decline in installs, let’s first stroll you thru our assumptions:

  • If Fortnite was revealed in Google Play, we estimate the set up combine can be:
    • 20% of installs from browse (those that uncover the app by means of the highest charts and that includes)
    • 40% of installs from native play Storesearch, of which 90% would have been branded search, and the opposite 10% would come from associated key phrases (non-branded search)
    • 40% of installs from paid UA campaigns
  • We estimate that browse visitors will expertise a 70% hit to installs. Though looking the Play Storeisn’t an possibility, we assume that about 30% of those that would’ve found the app by actively looking the highest charts or navigation tabs have excessive intent and would really take the steps to seek for and set up the APK.
  • We estimate that the APK obtain course of will create a 30% hit to installs that may have come from branded search on Google Play. That is largely because of the 6-step technique of downloading an APK that may deter installers.
  • Alongside the identical traces, we estimate that many of the excessive intent customers who would’ve put in from branded search willattempt to seek for Fortnite on the Google search engine and begin the APK set up journey.
  • We consider that 100% of the non-branded search installs (for instance, customers trying to find “shooter recreation” and seeing Fortnite within the search outcomes) might be misplaced since these customers gained’t be uncovered to Fortnite on the Play Storeand gained’t actively attempt to set up it by means of the APK. This is because of their low intent and lack of brand name consciousness.
  • For UA visitors, we count on Fortnite will expertise 30% much less installs given the higher-friction APK set up course of.

Now let’s get into the numbers. Utilizing the above estimations, if we run a brief back-of-the-envelope calculation, we see that:

The ultimate quantity reveals that by going the APK route, Fortnite will expertise a couple of 41% hit to its set up numbers in comparison with the choice scenario of publishing on Google Play.

If, for simplicity causes, we assume that income is correlated 1:1 with the amount of installs, Epic Video games will see nearly 41% much less income by publishing independently. This implies they might solely obtain 59.2% of income in comparison with the 70% of income they’d accumulate in the event that they revealed on Google Play and paid the 30% payment. They are going to doubtless mitigate this loss with a rise in UA spend, which can additional impression their revenue.

Regardless that we’re utilizing tough and conservative estimates, it’s evident that by going across the Google Play 30% payment, there’s excessive chance that Fortnite will discover itself in a worse scenario, with much less income in comparison with the choice of publishing within the Store. In abstract, publishing independently is a particularly dangerous enterprise, with a robust probability that builders gained’t get pleasure from “financial savings” by avoiding the platforms’ 30% “tax.”

Furthermore, this goes to point out that for a lot of different builders who don’t have a particularly highly effective model like Fortnite, the impression might be even worse than ±40%. From a enterprise and progress perspective, we consider this method is far too dangerous for many cell builders to check.

Now that you simply perceive the impression this choice may have on Fortnite’s total installs and income, right here’s what the high-friction APK obtain funnel appears to be like like…

Navigating the Cell App APK Obtain Funnel

In comparison with the benefit of putting in an app straight from the Play Store, the funnel customers should undergo to obtain an APK is rather more tedious. Right here’s a step-by-step take a look at the APK funnel utilizing the Amazon Appstore for example:

Step 1: Customers, whether or not coming from a Google search or from paid UA campaigns, should land on the corporate’s web site with the APK obtain hyperlink.

Step 2: Upon clicking the “Get” button, customers are delivered to a brand new web page with obtain directions. Earlier than persevering with, they have to click on “OK” to a message from Google saying these recordsdata might “hurt your system,” which may simply deter them from downloading.

Step 3: Customers should go into their safety settings and activate “Unknown sources” earlier than the app will start downloading. Earlier than altering the setting, Google locations one other warning to tell customers that they’re chargeable for any harm or lack of information because of this. This creates further friction within the funnel and will discourage customers from persevering with with the obtain.

Step 4: Customers should return to the APK web site to open the downloaded app.

Step 5: As soon as customers open the obtain, they have to click on to “Set up.”

Step 6: The app will routinely set up, and customers have the choice to open it instantly or click on “accomplished” and exit the funnel. At this level, the app will now seem on the system’s residence display.

Whereas doable, in comparison with the frictionless set up customers are accustomed to experiencing on the Play Store, this funnel requires considerably extra effort and time to finish and will trigger a lower in conversion. Plus, the a number of safety messages Google consists of alongside the best way act as additional limitations to put in.

How Will Fortnite’s Distribution Technique Have an effect on the Cell App Ecosystem?

Given the potential hit to CVR and unprecedented nature of their choice, Epic Video games are taking a danger by launching Fortnite with out the assist of Google Play. Though Fortnite, one of the crucial profitable and fastest-growing video games of all time, could possibly function off of Google Play to its benefit (regardless of the doable lack of installs), an identical choice might be disastrous for many different builders. Fortnite depends closely on the unparalleled hype created from desktop, console, and the App Store, however this success just isn’t simply replicated.

Regardless of these odds, will probably be fascinating to see how this choice will impression the trade, and whether or not different main cell publishers will observe go well with and decide that utilizing a 3rd get together distribution platform isn’t essential.

No matter occurs, don’t count on Google to take a seat idly on the sidelines. As you’ve seen, they’ve already used offense as protection once they shortly featured Fortnite’s prime competitor within the Play Store. That is additionally excluding the truth that they monopolize search and personal a majority of the digital promoting stock on the net…

As all of us eagerly anticipate the scenario to play out, keep tuned for Half 2 of this sequence, by which we’ll dig even deeper into the impression this choice may have on the cell app ecosystem and its main gamers.


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