Fortnite returns to iPhone with clever workaround – here's how to play!

Fortnite returns to iPhone with clever workaround – here’s how to play!

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Fortnite returns to iPhone with clever workaround – here's how to play!
If you've been missing Fortnite, you can play it now on iPhone or iPad.
Photo: Cult of Mac

Fortnite got kicked out of the App Store as part of a legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, but you can play it on your iPhone today for free. Microsoft added it to Xbox Cloud Gaming so the combat game is playable on iOS and iPadOS devices.

Setting up your iPhone or iPad to play Fortnite from the cloud rather than the App Store is different from what you’re used to. Not hard, just different. I’ll walk you through it.

Fortnite is back on iPhone

Apple and Epic Games are in a protracted fight over App Store fees and Fortnite fans have been caught in the middle, with no way to play the game on iOS or iPadOS devices.

But Microsoft and Epic Games to do an end run around the App Store and make Fortnite available via a web browser. For free – don’t forget that part. And game controllers are an option.

A similar deal announced in early 2022 made Fortnite available for iPhone and iPad thanks to Nvidia’s GeForce Now browser-based service. But the big news today is Xbox Cloud Gaming.

How to play Fortnite on iPhone via Xbox Cloud Gaming

To start playing Fortnite through Xbox Cloud Gaming, don’t go to the App Store on your iPhone or iPad. Instead, go to Xbox.com/play in the Safari web browser. That’s how you’ll access the game, though you’ll set up Microsoft’s service so it seems like any other app.

How to play Fortnite on iPhone via Xbox Cloud Gaming
Don’t go to the App Store to play Fortnite, but xbox.com/play. From there, you need to Get Ready to Play, then Sign In.
Screenshots: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

On the Xbox site, tap on Get Ready to Play. This points out that an Xbox Cloud Gaming icon must be added to your Home screen. It’s easy: tap the Share button in your web browser – it’s a box with an arrow shooting upward. On the resulting pop-up window, choose Add to Home Screen. That opens a page where you just need to tap Add.

This puts a Cloud Gaming icon on the Home screen of your iPhone/iPad. Tap on it. This will open the Xbox service in a separate window from Safari, as though it were a stand-alone app.

From there, you should choose Fortnite as the game you want to play. To start the first time, you’ll have to hit the Sign In button and enter a Microsoft account. But that doesn’t mean you have to sign up for an Xbox subscription – the account you use for MS Office or OneDrive will work. If you don’t have a Microsoft account, you’ll have to create one. It’s free, though.

Once you have signed in, you’re back on the Fortnite page and can hit Play. It’ll take a bit for the game to load, but when it does, hit Press to Start.

And there, you’re in the game. I can’t give you any tips for winning – I’m just here to show you how to get into the game.

Fortnite on iPhone via Xbox Cloud Gaming
Here is is… Fortnite on iPhone thanks to Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Screenshot: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Xbox Cloud Gaming is available in 26 countries, so there’s a very good chance that if you’re reading this, you can go play Fortnite on your iPhone now.

Better Wi-Fi means better cloud gaming

Just in case it’s not clear, Xbox Cloud Gaming is a web app so Fortnite requires an Internet connection at all times. The game is playing on a remote Microsoft server. You’re seeing it as though it were a very interactive TV show.

So performance depends on the speed of your internet connection, not the speed of your processor. I found the game to be playable over a decent consumer Wi-Fi connection. But that’s not true if I went somewhere the Wi-Fi signal is weak.

Play with a controller

The default for Fortnite is touchscreen controls. When you launch the game, it shows you where the many on-screen controls are located.

If you’re like me and prefer to play iPhone games with a clip-on controller, all you need to do is connect one and the game will recognize it. I plugged in the Backbone One I’m reviewing and did a lot better in the game.

It’s free… sort of

Fortnite is a free to play game. It costs you nothing to play it through Xbox Cloud Gaming. You don’t even have to sign up for a subscription. But the game is packed with in-app purchases. Just packed.

Still, if you’ve been missing Epic Games’ combat free-for-all, you can enjoy it again on your iPhone or iPad.