Fortnite could be on its way back to the iPhone, almost 18 months after it was first removed by Apple due to a legal dispute with producer Epic Games.
The game isn’t being added to the App Store, but rather being made available by streaming service NVIDIA GeForce NOW, running in mobile browser Safari.
It will also be made available for Android, launching with a full touch interface on both platforms as a ‘closed beta’ with a limited number of users.
To run Fortnite on mobile, users would need to have an active NVIDIA GeForce NOW account, although it will be available to those with a ‘free tier’ service.
The limited-run closed beta opened for applicants on Monday, with users on a waitlist added in waves over the coming weeks, testing a range of functions, including server load, touch controls and graphic quality.
Fortnite could be on its way back to the iPhone, almost 18 months after it was first removed by Apple due to a legal dispute with producer Epic Games
The game isn’t being added to the App Store, but rather being made available by streaming service NVIDIA GeForce NOW, running in mobile browser Safari
WHAT IS NVIDIA GEFORCE NOW?
GeForce NOW is NVIDIA’s cloud-based streaming service.
It delivers gameplay from the cloud to any device – including laptop, desktop, Mac, Shield TV, iPhone, iPad, Android and other tablets.
Users connect their various store accounts – such as from STEAM, Epic Games, Ubisoft and GOG.com.
They can then play their favourite games, purchased on various different stores, using GeForce NOW.
Users require a good, reliable internet connection, and play via powerful hardware on the GeForce servers.
There are free and premium memberships, offering different amounts of game time and quality.
Fortnite is one of the world’s most popular games but was removed from Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store in 2020 over an argument between the tech giants and Epic over the use of outside payment options.
The free-to-play cross platform game, earns its developer money through subscriptions and in-game purchases.
Epic added a new payment option, allowing users to buy in-game items directly from them rather than using Apple and Google’s own payment systems.
While it was still available to play on games consoles and on Windows, users of some of the most popular touch screen devices couldn’t join in one the fun.
Epic took Apple to court over restrictions on the use of third party payment systems, and after a very public trail, the judge ruled partially against Apple.
Saying the firm couldn’t prohibit developers ‘from including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms.’
Apple has yet to implement any changes, and despite the ruling, Fortnite remained banned from the App Store – and Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney says it could be up to five years before a native app is available for iPhone and iPad again.
With the new release, it is a beta test of the NVIDIA GeForce NOW touch screen control mechanism, available via a time-limited closed beta.
Previously, while NVIDIA GeForce NOW games were available on laptop, desktop and mobile devices, they weren’t adapted for touch sensitive controls.
Applications to join the beta are open, with users added in waves over the coming few weeks, according to a spokesperson.
‘There’s no fixed end date on the closed beta at this time, but we’re working alongside the team at Epic Games to develop an experience all Fortnite gamers and GeForce NOW members will enjoy.’
It is open to any GeForce NOW member, as they want as wide of an audience as possible to help test server capacity graphics delivery and touch controls.
It will also be made available for Android, launching with a full touch interface on both platforms as a ‘closed beta’ with a limited number of users
APPLE MUST ALLOW DEVELOPERS TO ADD EXTERNAL PAYMENTS
Apple has been court ordered to make it possible for developers to add links and buttons for external payments within apps.
The ruling means Epic Games, and other producers, can add payment buttons inside apps, bypassing the 15-30 per cent commission Apple takes from in-app purchases.
Apple takes a 15 per cent cut from developers with less than $1 million in net sales, but those over the threshold have to fork over 30 per cent.
However, this also does not mean developers will not have to pay Apple at all, but the tech giant has yet to reveal how payments will be handled moving forward.
As well as working with Epic Games to bring Fortnite back to iOS and Android, NVIDIA is looking at bringing other mobile games to users through the cloud.
This could lead to the first third party app store on the iPhone, operating in the browser rather than downloaded to the device – outside Apple’s control.
Sweeney is a proponent of a universal app store where users could ‘buy software in one place, knowing that they’d have it on all devices and all platforms.’
In 2018, Epic launched its own digital storefront where the company would offer consumers access its video game library, in the hope of circumventing the 30 percent cut Apple takes off apps purchased in its store.
With GeForce NOW, users still have to have purchased the game from another store, such as Steam or Epic Games, and can then stream it using the GeForce servers.
This allows you to access high end computer hardware on even the most basic device, including an old Android phone.
To demonstrate the technology, NVIDIA sent me a Samsung Galaxy J3, preinstalled with NVIDIA GeForce, and, alongside a bluetooth game controller, it allowed me to play even the most graphic intensive titles, such as Destiny 2 and Apex Legends.
NVIDIA said in a blog post in November that there are about five million members of the service, who, with a gamepad can already play titles such as ‘Assassin´s Creed Valhalla’ and ‘Shadow of the Tomb Raider’ on iPhones.
The limited-run closed beta opened for applicants on Monday, with users on a waitlist added in waves over the coming weeks, testing a range of functions, including server load, touch controls and graphic quality
HOW TO GET ON THE GEFORCE FORTNITE CLOSED BETA
LOGIN OR CREATE NVIDIA ACCOUNT which is required to access services provided by the chip maker.
JOIN THE WAITLIST Complete the registration form and select the device you plan to play the closed beta on.
BECOME A GEFORCE NOW MEMBER Free or Priority, either membership allows an equal chance at the closed beta.
In the future, these titles could be adapted to work natively with touch controls.
‘While PC games in the GeForce NOW library are best experienced on mobile with a gamepad, the introduction of touch controls built by the GeForce NOW team offers more options for players, starting with Fortnite,’ a spokesperson for NVIDIA said.
‘And we’re just getting started. Cloud-to-mobile gaming is a great opportunity for publishers to get their games into more gamers’ hands with touch-friendly versions of their games.
‘PC games or game engines, like Unreal Engine 4, which support Windows touch events can easily enable mobile touch support on GeForce NOW.’
While a number of PC games have started appearing on smartphones, including the Total War series, Call of Duty and Civilization, many haven’t made the switch.
‘We’re working with additional publishers to add more touch-enabled games to GeForce NOW,’ a spokesperson said.
Adding they ‘look forward to more publishers streaming full PC versions of their games to mobile devices with built-in touch support – reaching millions through the Android app and iOS Safari devices.’
Recently, SEGA announced plans to expand its Total War offering on smartphones, bringing the Medieval version of the game to touch devices.
WHAT IS FORTNITE? THE FREE TO PLAY GAME LAUNCHED IN 2017 AND HAS TAKEN THE WORLD BY STORM
Fortnite is a game that originally launched as a disk back in July 2017 and was then turned into a free-to-download game by its developer, Epic Games, in September.
There are three forms of the game: ‘Battle Royale’, ‘Save The World’ and ‘Playground’.
Save the world is the original form of the game and is currently not available to play as part of the free-to-download game, instead it comes as part of a £30 ($40) extra.
It is a co-op mode with a story that’s playable solo or online with friends.
Fortnite is a battle royale-style survival shooter where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island
Users compete in teams of up to three to complete a variety of missions.
It is rumoured that the game will be added to the free-to-play version of the game in the future.
Whilst Save The World may be the original version of the game, its sister mode is by far the most popular.
Battle Royale is a game of survival where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island.
Each game, or ‘match’ as each competition is known, starts with 100 players.
The aim of the game is to be the last one standing. Users can form allegiances and play in small groups.
To enable this and the interactive experience, the game allows completely open communication between players.
Inspired by the Hunger Games novels and films, gamers search for weapons to help them survive.
Armed with quirky weapons and amusing dances, the game has swept across the gaming world, with children flocking to it.
While there is no exact figure on how many children play Fortnite, the game has so far pulled in an audience of over 125 million players.
Playground is the latest addition to the game and is a consequence free mode with more loot and unlimited respawning to allow players to get creative.
It involved groups of up to four people working as a team and the players can hone their skills as the practise in advance of entering Battle Royale where they will face better players.