Fortnite might come back to iPhones and iPads later this year, but not quite the way you’re used to. The BBC reports that Fortnite will be available to play through Nvidia’s cloud gaming service, GeForce Now. The service hasn’t been announced for iOS yet, but the BBC reports an announcement is expected before the holidays.
GeForce Now will supposedly run inside of Safari, the web browser, rather than as a standalone app, because of Apple’s restrictions on game streaming services that make it onerous to support them through the App Store. The service allows you to stream your personal library of games to laptops, mobile phones, and other devices that might not otherwise be able to run them well — or at all. A standard “Founders” plan currently costs $5 per month, though you can play for limited time periods for free.
It’s an absurd, hacky situation that’s the result of two companies — Epic Games and Nvidia — working around Apple’s arbitrary restrictions on iPhone and iPad apps. Following a public spat with Microsoft over refusal to support its xCloud service, Apple said in a statement that “developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store,” implying such a workaround would be allowed. Apple also updated its developer guidelines with specific rules cloud gaming services could follow to reach iOS players involving individual game submission and review, though Microsoft still called the compromise a “bad experience for consumers.” (Microsoft has since said it plans to bring xCloud to iOS via Safari sometime next year.)
The result of a potential GeForce Now browser solution is that Fortnite would be available, but only for those who jump through the hoops needed to set up Nvidia’s streaming service on an iPhone. In that scenario, Fortnite might look better, thanks to higher-fidelity graphics, because it’s streamed from a PC. But there’s no guarantee it’ll run as responsively as the native Fortnite mobile app does, given that it’ll be inside of a browser and could face latency issues and other snags.
Apple banned Fortnite in August after the game’s developer, Epic, secretly added an in-app purchases option that offered lower prices but didn’t give Apple its typical 30 percent cut. The two companies have been locked in a legal battle since, with Epic claiming that Apple maintains a monopoly over the App Store and its payment systems. Apple so far has won a ruling that allowed it to continue blocking Fortnite.
GeForce Now formally exited beta and launched its paid tier in February and can currently stream games to Windows PCs, Macs, Chromebooks, Android phones, and Nvidia’s Shield streaming box. It goes up against a number of other game streaming services that have launched over the past year, including Microsoft’s xCloud, Amazon’s Luna, and Google’s Stadia, and many of those services face similar restrictions to launching native apps for Apple’s mobile platform.