Fortnite will return to iPhone — along with other Epic Games Store titles

Epic Games Ninety Eighty Fortnite
(Image credit: Epic Games)

Fortnite has been AWOL from the iOS App Store marketplace since 2020, following a legal butting of heads between makers Epic Games and Apple over the use of third-party payment options. But with new EU regulations coming into effect, the doors have been reopened for Epic Games to bring it's battle royale title back to the iPhone and iPad.

You're likely to have noticed that since 2018 Fortnite can't be found on the Android marketplace either. Similarly, Epic Games wanted to subvert Google's steep 30% cut on in-app purchases. This led to Google giving Fortnite the heave-ho, much like Apple later would.

However, being the much more open platform that it is, Android (with its ability to install third-party apps from outside of the Google Play Store) was still a viable platform for the developers who simply made the game available for download from its website.

As Apple's iOS is a much more closed system, this has left iPhone and iPad gamers without one of the most popular titles of the last decade. With Apple's banning of the Epic Games developer account cutting off the only way for iOS and iPadOS owners to download the game.

Enter the European Union (EU), who recently passed the Digital Markets Act that forces closed platforms like Apple's iOS and iPadOS landscapes to act less like monopolies and open up to further competition. In the case of the iPad and iPhone, this means granting owners access to third-party app stores as alternatives to Apple's own App Store.

Since the Digital Markets Act passed, Epic Games have been salivating at the mouth for its chance to re-emerge into the Apple ecosystem, and with Apple recently granting Epic Games a developer account once again, it's full steam ahead on what could be Apple's biggest on-device competition when it comes to gaming apps.

So when can we expect to see Fortnite back on Apple platforms? Currently, Apple will be expected to implement all the necessary changes to its platform to accommodate third-party app stores and payment methods by March 6, 2024.

With Epic Games having been itching for a chance to find their way back onto the platform under fairer means, it's likely iPhone and iPad users won't have to wait a great deal of time after that deadline in order to one again book themselves a ticket on the Battle Bus.

Sadly, this ruling will only force Apple's hand when it comes to the EU. More specifically EU member states. While this covers a good portion of mainland Europe, it does leave out the United Kingdom who are instead reliant on the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill replicating the same push to bring Apple into line by enforcing a fairer playing ground.

As for the US, similar digital "gatekeeper" busting regulations all hinge on the passing of the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. A similar set of regulations design to prevent big tech from giving its own services and products preferential treatment.

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Rael Hornby
Content Editor

Rael Hornby, potentially influenced by far too many LucasArts titles at an early age, once thought he’d grow up to be a mighty pirate. However, after several interventions with close friends and family members, you’re now much more likely to see his name attached to the bylines of tech articles. While not maintaining a double life as an aspiring writer by day and indie game dev by night, you’ll find him sat in a corner somewhere muttering to himself about microtransactions or hunting down promising indie games on Twitter.