Fortnite returns to iPhones via Epic and Nvidia GeForce Now tie-up

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Fortnite characters next to Apple logo

Nvidia has confirmed Fortnite is coming back to iPhones through its cloud gaming service, despite Apple having thrown the game off its App Store.

The company's GeForce Now service is now available through the Safari web browser - bypassing the store entirely.

Apple has banned Fortnite from its services amid a continuing legal battle with the game's owner, Epic Games.

Nvidia said a touch-enabled Fortnite was "coming soon" to the mobile browser.

Plans for what is, in effect, a workaround were first reported by the BBC in early November.

GeForce Now usually streams PC games over the internet without having to install them, offering games on-the-go via use of a keyboard, mouse and/or controller if there is a good enough internet connection.

On iOS, a gamepad will usually be the only option.

But the implementation of touch controls in the Safari-based version of Fortnite means it will not be the same as the one that usually runs on PCs. Nvidia said that change "will delay availability of the game".

"While the GeForce Now library is best experienced on mobile with a gamepad, touch is how over 100 million Fortnite gamers have built, battled and danced their way to victory," it said.

For Nvidia, the move is about more than just Fortnite. Apple has put onerous restrictions on game-streaming apps which means that GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Xbox streaming have all been unable to launch on Apple mobile devices via native apps of their own.

Image source, GeForce Now
Image caption,
GeForce Now allows players to stream PC games they own without installing them - or to mobiles

But streaming apps through a web browser - instead of a dedicated app - is allowed under Apple's rules.

Alongside the Safari browser version, Nvidia said it would launch another web browser version, for Chrome, in early 2021.

George Jijiashvili, a games analyst at Omdia, was sceptical about how long the service would remain functional.

"GeForce Now will serve as an official workaround for iOS users, but I believe that a reaction from Apple is imminent, which could possibly lead to blocking or diminishing the quality of the service on Safari," he warned in a blog post.

However, others are also planning to bring games to Apple's devices by a similar route.

Google has just confirmed its Stadia service will soon run on iOS devices via a web app.

And early word suggests Amazon's Luna is working well during its test phase using the browser-based approach.