In an about-face, Epic Games did fortnite available on Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming streaming service. Among other things, this means the massively popular game is officially available to play again on the iPhone for the first time since being pulled amid the recent legal battle between Epic and Apple.
A Publish on Microsoft’s Xbox Blog states that everything you need to play fortnite on just about any device with a screen is a Microsoft account, internet access, and the device.
fortnite is free to play, and for the first time, Xbox Cloud Gaming is also free-to-play, as long as the game you want to play is fortnite. The company’s cloud gaming service is normally limited to paid Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, but fortnite gets an exception and works in any web browser with nothing more than a free Xbox connection. Microsoft writes that it plans to introduce more free cloud games in the future that don’t require a paid Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
At least part of Microsoft’s hope here is likely that the long-disused iPhone fortnite players will log in to play the game on their phone, see how well it works, and then sign up for the full service to access premium games as well.
fortnite was one of the most popular games on the iPhone (and pretty much every other platform) until Apple removed it from its app stores around the time Epic sued Apple for a variety of App Store related issues.
The lawsuit resulted in some minor wins for Epic but mostly major wins for Apple, and fortnite did not return to the App Store.
During the legal process, it emerged that Epic had refused to do fortnite available on Microsoft’s service because Epic viewed the service as competitive against its goals on the PC platform, so Thursday’s announcement is a reversal.
If the game hadn’t ended up on the iPhone via Microsoft’s service, it would still have arrived. Nvidia conducted a closed beta of its own iPhone streaming service (also featuring fortnite), but it has not yet been widely distributed.