Fortnite has technically returned to iOS devices thanks to expanded Xbox Cloud access and Microsoft's new partnership with Epic Games.
As Xbox Cloud Gaming vice president and product head Catherine Gluckstein explained in a new blog post, Fortnite is now available for free via the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta in 26 countries (full region list here).
As long as you have a Microsoft account and an Apple (or Android) device with internet access, you can play Fortnite through the cloud straight in a web browser without worrying about a download or membership. It's also available on Windows PCs, but Fortnite is already pretty easy to get there.
Fortnite was removed from Apple platforms in 2020 ahead of Epic's lawsuit against Apple, which followed an ugly spat over App Store restrictions and payment methods. To boil it down, Epic got on Apple's bad side by letting Fortnite players purchase V-Bucks directly instead of going through the tech giant's storefront. Apple immediately kicked Fortnite off its platform, and the Google Play Store was right behind it.
Microsoft ended up filing a letter of support for Epic's lawsuit, zeroing in on Apple's decision to block Epic from updating its Unreal Engine for iOS devices. Microsoft has also previously criticized Apple's store terms and conditions, especially as they relate to streaming services like the Xbox Cloud (then xCloud).
With this partnership, Xbox has made Epic's biggest game free and playable on Apple devices once again, totally circumventing the App Store and even pre-empting a newly proposed EU law that could give iOS users more freedom over their devices and potentially side-load games like Fortnite back onto the platform.
Gluckstein says this is the start of Xbox Cloud Gaming's next initiative, and that Xbox will "look to bring more free-to-play games people love in the future."
Sony has also gotten closer to Epic Games: the company recently invested an additional $1 billion in the house of Fortnite.