Record YouTube streaming phenomenon Fortnite is out to cause a stir when it releases on Android this summer.
Tim Sweeney, chief executive at the game's developers, Epic Games, recently announced that it would be available directly from the publisher rather than through the Google Play Store - with Epic citing "disproportionate" revenue share as the reason behind the move.
Fortnite is free to play in Battle Royale mode, where 100 players are dropped onto a small island and left to forage and battle it out until the last person is standing. Revenue from season passes and in-game purchases has reputedly netted Epic $1.2 billion so far and is earning $3m more each day.
Android is the world's most popular operating system and Epic are snubbing Google Play to maximise profits. The Google Play store would let users download the app for free, although the company would take a 30 per cent cut of all sales made within the game.
In closed platforms such as the Xbox or PlayStation, Fortnite is available only through the official stores, the same on iOS with Apple also taking 30 percent of all in-game purchase revenues through the App Store.
The main reason for official channels in these cases is Epic can't easily get around this barrier.
PC users can readily download Fortnite directly from the Epic Games website, and Epic are taking the brave choice of a similar route with Android, meaning Google becomes the victim of allowing its users the freedom to choose to install APK files from Unknown Sources.
Parents want to protect their children from all harm - inoculations to boost their immune system, helmets and elbow pads when learning to ride a bike, Karate lessons for health and confidence - and purchasing and securing a smartphone.
Smartphones are becoming ubiquitous among children. One in four children under the age of six now has a smartphone, with nearly half of those spending up to 21 hours per week on the devices.
To help stop the chance of viruses such as malware being downloaded, and personal information being stolen, an effective security and antitheft solution can be easily installed which would even allow the child's smartphone to be located when mislaid. There would also be technical user and content filtering measures put in place, to be relaxed over time as appropriate.
A smartphone agreement could also be drafted and discussed, that both agree to, such as:
- Act on the smartphone the same way you should behave in person - be polite and respectful of others
- Talk freely with parents about any concerns or alarming communications
- Let parents see what you are doing on your smartphone when asked
- Look after the smartphone and ensure it is charged at all times
- Leave the smartphone in the overnight box (to be built) at bedtime
- Don't give out personal information
- Don't click on links in emails, messages or open attachments you are not expecting
- Don't install apps from unknown sources . . . oh wait
Many publications and advisors do not recommend users installing third-party apps not officially supported by a device's official app store, due to security concerns.
There are a few legitimate-ish reasons to resort to an Unknown APK Source, such as running Pokémon Go on a device with less than 2GB RAM, where it will not allow installation through the Google Play store. The majority of app installed from Unknown Sources are actually to get around restrictions such a streaming apps or regional lockdowns where apps such as VPNs may not be allowed - or to get cracked versions of apps.
There have already been numerous fraudulent Android versions of Fortnite available using official looking branding - and this is before Epic release the game. Hackers are sure to increase their efforts with this latest news, with claims of exclusive first versions of Fortnite, or a version which contains coveted costumes and accessories.
If the trend of publishers operating outside the official Google Play store continues, then it is just one more thing for a concerned parent to have to consider before sending their child out into the world with a smartphone.
Then of course there is the subject of sexting . . . which requires some more thought before that discussion.
Neil Martin is marketing manager, Panda Security UK & Ireland
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