Xbox has helped Fortnite sneak its way back onto iPhones

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Fortnite is back on iOS devices, sort of, and we have Microsoft to thank. Epic and Xbox have announced that Fortnite is now playable for free through Xbox Cloud Gaming. The news means Fortnite can again be played on iOS devices like iPhones and iPads despite being removed from the Apple App Store during the legal battle between Epic and Apple.

All you need to stream Fortnite is a Microsoft account and a computer, iOS, or Android device with an internet connection. As of today, it doesn’t require an Xbox Game Pass subscription. On iOS, you just have to open xbox.com/play, and you’ll be prompted to add the Cloud Gaming bookmark to your home screen. Then you’re good to go. 

Streaming Fortnite through a browser is something you could have done for a few months with a GeForce Now membership, but this makes it a lot easier. I tested it on Xbox Cloud Gaming a few minutes ago on my iPhone 13 in a Safari browser, and I lost in thirty seconds. The internet isn’t great here, so I’ll blame that and not my Fortnite skills.

You can play with native touch controls (if you’re on a phone or tablet) or connect a Bluetooth controller. Strangely, there is no keyboard and mouse support for playing on a computer; then again, this is technically the Xbox version of Fortnite and not the PC, which would explain why you don’t need an Epic account to play it. 

Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney took to Twitter to share his excitement and take another dig at Apple. 

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“Monumental news, everyone!” Sweeney wrote. “Fortnite is now available to play FOR FREE, streaming to web browsers on iPhone, iPad, and Android via Xbox Cloud. No subscription required, no 30% Apple tax.”

The “30% Apple Tax” was one of the primary objections to Apple’s control over iOS software distribution that led Epic to openly break Apple’s rules and later sue the company.

Long story short, Apple takes a 30% cut of all in-app purchases, which means whenever someone bought V-bucks in Fortnite on iOS, Apple got a cut. Epic implemented its own in-app payment system to get around the fee, and Apple, in turn, removed Fortnite from the App Store for “violating the App Store guidelines.” Epic argued that Apple’s policy is anti-competitive and took the company to court. It didn’t win, and as of now, Fortnite remains blacklisted on iOS.

This Xbox and Epic collaboration is interesting in part because, during one of the depositions in the Apple case, Epic said it wasn’t bringing Fortnite to Xbox’s streaming service because it represented competition. Funny how things change.

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