Fake Fortnite Android Ads Highlight Security Risk | Gaming
When rumors began to circulate that the Android version of Fortnite wouldn’t be available through the Google Play marketplace, there was an immediate discussion about the security implications. By bypassing the Google-run storefront, argued many, Epic Games was opening up its playerbase to a world of scams. The fear is that hackers and other malicious agents would be able to easily trick fans into downloading harmful programs onto their devices.
A Game Rant investigation confirms that in the days immediately following reports about the game’s lack of Google Play support, fake ads for Fortnite Android began to show up. Those who have interacted with Fortnite videos are likely to see ads encouraging them to “download Fortnite Android now” or advertising “Fortnite Android APKs”. Game Rant found that the ads showed up on the main dashboard of the YouTube mobile app as well as in Fortnite-specific searches, including the search query for “Fortnite Android.”
The ads themselves are fairly convincing, even if the descriptions are not. They show footage which appears to be taken from the iOS version of the game superimposed onto Android phones. The YouTube ads also have splashy thumbnails which resemble the numerous popular Fortnite videos already found on the platform. Several of the ads spotted by Game Rant had several thousands of views, ranging from 99,000 views all the way up to 257,000 (screenshots of this are dotted around this post).
The descriptions of the videos themselves don’t hold up to scrutiny as they have very obviously been copied and pasted, likely used in multiple scam campaigns. They encourage viewers to “download free GTA 5 games for mobile phones and computers.” The ads also contain a link which, presumably gets users to download an APK – though we didn’t dare to click it to find out. Given that the Fortnite Android doesn’t yet have a public build, the links are unlikely to lead to anything benign.
Epic Games has addressed the security concerns of offering an official Fortnite APK instead of listing the game on Google Play. In an interview, founder Tim Sweeney highlighted the “responsibility” of fans to check where they are getting their games from. While Sweeney may be correct (everyone should take security seriously), the fact that hundreds of thousands of Fortnite fans have been duped into at least watching these videos, if not clicking those questionable links, shows that this advice doesn’t go far enough.
In fact, the ads are also frighteningly similar to the videos which Epic Games itself warned about just a few months ago. The developer told its fans to beware of Fortnite Android beta phishing scams which had been popularized by several YouTubers, who themselves had been tricked into believing they’d been sent legitimate beta invites via email. If that scam campaign was enough to warrant a warning from Epic then arguably this, more aggressive and targeted ad campaign, should warrant action too.
Fortnite is now available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and iOS devices. A release on Android devices is planned for this summer.