Yes, you read that right! Fortnite is once again available on iOS devices, without using the App Store. Microsoft has seemingly thrown its weight behind Fortnite on the backdrop of the recent high-profile legal battle between Epic Games and Apple.
The result is that a touch-friendly version of the game is now available once more to those who would like to play it on their iPhone, thanks to a partnership between Epic Games and Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service.
While iPhone users can’t download the app from the iOS App Store, they can access the game for free by firing up the Safari web browser on their smartphone and heading to xbox.com/play.
In order to access this free version, the user needs nothing more than an Xbox account login (and, of course, their device and Internet access). It isn’t normally possible to play games on Xbox Cloud Gaming unless you pay for an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, but an exception has been made for Fortnite.
In fact, Microsoft has gone as far as saying that it intends to make more free-to-play cloud games available in the future, without the need for users to subscribe to a paid subscription plan.
Presumably, Microsoft is hoping it can lure some Apple users who are longing for a game of Fortnite over to its cloud gaming service, with the long-term goal of getting at least some of them to eventually sign up as premium subscribers in order to access a broader range of games.
For some, the news of this collaboration might be quite surprising, as Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, had previously said that it did not intend to work with Xbox, because it regarded the cloud gaming service as a competitor.
It is unclear what made Epic Games change its mind, but many are speculating that it’s likely to do with the extended delays with launching a touch-friendly version of the game on NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW cloud gaming platform. We reported back in January that NVIDIA was launching a closed beta test of Fortnite via that service, but a broader release hasn’t happened yet.
Right now, the Xbox Cloud Gaming version of Fortnite might therefore be the easiest one to access, and the most mobile-optimized version of the game currently available to players.