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Fortnite set to return to iPhones via Nvidia cloud gaming service

By Leo Kelion

Technology desk editor

Published

Owners of iPhones and iPads could soon be able to play Fortnite again, via a cloud service, the BBC has discovered.

Nvidia has developed a version of its GeForce cloud gaming service that runs in the mobile web browser Safari.

Apple will not get a cut of virtual items sold within the battle royale fighting title when played this way.

Apple is embroiled in a legal fight with Fortnite’s developer Epic, which led the iPhone-maker to remove the game from its iOS App Store.

Epic has claimed that the 30% commission Apple charges on in-app gaming purchases is anti-competitive.

But Apple has accused Epic of wanting a “free ride”.

The case is due to go to trial in May and could take years to be resolved.

Papers filed in the case indicate that Fortnite had 116 million users on iOS, 73 million of whom only played it via Apple’s operating system.

Unlike Android, Apple does not allow games or other apps to be loaded on to its phones or tablets via app stores other than its own.

But it does not restrict which third-party services can run within Safari or other web browsers available via its store.

image copyrightNvidia

image captionNvidia spotlights GeForce Now’s support for Fortnite on its website

Nvidia currently offers GeForce Now for Mac, Windows, Android and Chromebook computers.

It has not formally announced that it is bringing the service to iOS but is expected to do so before the winter holidays.

However, it is still possible that Fortnite gets excluded from the list of games offered to Apple’s devices.

According to several online forums, the game was briefly removed from GeForce Now’s Android service in December.

“Nvidia is not commenting on any new clients coming to the service, or on the availability of any game on unannounced or unreleased platforms,” a spokesman for the firm told the BBC.

“Fortnite is not confirmed for GeForce Now on platforms beyond PC, Mac and Android.”

Epic also indicated it had nothing to say at this time.

Game lag

In theory, Apple mobile device owners will be able to play Fortnite via Nvidia’s service without charge.

Both the game and GeForce Now’s basic tier offer free access, although Nvidia limits these sessions to one hour.

It is unclear whether playing via the cloud will put players at a disadvantage.

Nvidia uses remote computer servers to process the players’ commands and to generate graphics. Streaming the relevant data back and forth to the mobile devices introduces a very short delay.

Winning or losing Fortnite’s multiplayer battles can come down to split-second decisions, so lag could be a problem.

image captionApple removed Fortnite from its App Store in August

One recent review of GeForce Now praised the platform’s performance, but warned that there was an “occasional degradation in the video quality” and reports of “spotty connection” errors, even when tested on fast internet connections.

Amazon already offers its rival Luna cloud-gaming platform to select “early access” iOS users, but does not include Fortnite in its current library of games.

Google’s Stadia cloud gaming service was briefly available to iOS users via an unofficial app, but it has since been removed from Apple’s store and likewise did not support Fortnite.

Microsoft is reportedly developing a version of its xCloud service for the mobile version of Safari, but it is not clear when it will launch.

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