While there is no doubt that the announcement of Epic Games Store is important for PC games, can the same be said for mobile games?
One thing we know is that thanks to the successful launch of Fortnite: Battle Royale on Android through Epic’s proprietary launcher, the company has shown that it has the operational experience to handle the distribution of large-scale mobile games.
However, getting people to download the most popular game of the year through their site is not the same as operating an app store for mobile games.
For that reason, the success or failure of the “Epic Game Store for Android” will not depend on the technical capacity of the company, but on more complex issues of users, use and content.
By PC players, for PC players.
But let’s not get ahead. Each time it is published sometime in 2019, Epic Game Store will launch as a store for PC only. Even when it is compatible with Android games, it will predominantly be a PC game store; a store predominantly focused on paid PC games.
This is very different from the current Android app stores, whether they run Google or through third parties, which are overwhelmingly focused on free and free content to play. In contrast to Apple, which invests a lot of time and money in the promotion of paid applications and games, the scale and geographical distribution of Android means that it is a platform for content that is monetized indirectly through advertising rather than purchases in the application.
Premium applications and games are even more irrelevant for Android than for iOS because most of the 1.5 billion people with Android phones do not have credit cards or traditional bank accounts.
Of course, Fortnite: Battle Royale is a F2P game and very successful in that, but while Fortnite has given Epic the opportunity to launch a store, the F2P model simply has not worked for PC games, at least in the west . Certainly, PC players do not like loot boxes or wait for buildings to level up.
Therefore, we have to deal with the fact that, as with Steam, Epic Games Store will target a relatively small group of high-spending PC players, who are as far from the mass market of mobile devices as possible. . Of their tastes, communities and motivations.
In fact, when launching the coin, we can say with some confidence that the vast majority of mobile players have no interest in going to another application store, no matter who is operating it. While the market situation is different in China and parts of Southeast Asia and Latin America, in general, if you have an Android phone, you can download content through the Google Play store.
The only reason why people downloaded the Android version of Fortnite through Epic was because Fortnite is the game du jour si no du année. No other mobile game has demanded, or may demand, such attention.
Clearly, then the Epic Games Store for Android will not work if it is promoted as a store of common or common applications for mobile games, since neither its main PC audience nor the vast majority of mobile players are interested in that.
Finding the third way
However, this does not mean that it will be a failure.
If Epic launches with the developers, games and positioning of appropriate stores for mobile devices, it could end up creating something desired for a long time in the sector; An application store for premium mobile games.
It was often rumored that in the early days of the Apple App Store, the increase in F2P ended all attempts to operate an app store that could cure, promote and sell mobile games with a price of about $ 10 or more.
In fact, the appeal of such games being available in the halo of the Epic Games Store can even allow PC gamers to finally admit what everyone knows, but no one will admit it: PC gamers also play mobile games, including free mobile games. .
Examples of games that could be easily accepted in this way (ignoring the subject of commercial terms for the sake of argument) include Fallout Shelter, which despite being free-to-play offers a different experience within the PC-centric universe of Bethesda, Lines of M and 2 of Revolution or even Brawl Stars.
Paid mobile games, such as The Room, Monument Valley or Kingdom Rush series, should also be attractive to this audience, while sporadic multiplatform PC games such as Super Evil’s Vainglory, Super Bit Machine’s Armajet and any number of Hearthstone-style TCGs . I would also find a lot of crossover audience.
And let’s not forget all those complementary applications of mobile to PC and other products of the community of players like Discord, etc.
Add to the mix the strong influence marketing tools Epic has promised will be an integral part of your store ecosystem, and finally, developers and mobile players will have a store, and a broader ecosystem, that presents and cares about the high quality content. hardcore players who are prepared to spend a lot of money, and also allows developers to direct marketing traffic to their own landing page, which does not include cross-promotions to other companies’ games
A surprising result
If such a vision gained some kind of traction, it would be a remarkable and enormously significant achievement for independent developers who gave up on mobile and moved to Steam (and since then to PlayStation, Xbox and Switch) when F2P moved since 2012.
And, in a counterintuitive way, this would be really good for the Android ecosystem, as it would provide a strong sub-community for owners of high-end devices, including new Razer gaming phones, Google Pixel phones and the usual public. of Samsung, etc., that Google could never do. Maybe, in the store war that will explode in 2019, Steam will also be forced to launch its own channel of games for Android.
Perversely, the real loser could be Apple, who could begin to see a loss of mentality, if not actual cash, among the community of players.
It’s probably not something that Tim Cook worries about, given the broader global dynamics of stalled device sales. However, given the importance of the brand that Apple grants to the protection of high quality content, to see that Epic drives the competitive offer of Android in that sense would be, at least, an unwanted development.