Fortnite disappeared from the App Store last week as part of developer Epic Games’ big legal and regulatory showdown with Apple, but the battle royale hit is not gone entirely.
If you’ve never downloaded the game before, you’re pretty much out of luck for now — and we recommend avoiding any of the eBay listings that appear to be popping up to hawk iPhones with the game installed for as much as $10,000. That sounds suspect. Those who have the game downloaded already can still play it of course and even install update files, at least until the next big patch launches, as Apple does not have the ability to forcibly remove software from your device.
But for those who’ve downloaded Fortnite at least once in the past but perhaps offloaded it or removed it manually, there is still a way to reinstall the game on your iOS device of choice. Here’s how:
Go to the “My Purchases” section of the App Store, found by clicking on your avatar (typically whatever Memoji or photo you’ve chosen for your Apple ID contact image) in the top righthand corner of any of the main screens. From there, tap “purchased,” then “My Purchases” to find your app directory of all iOS apps you’ve ever downloaded. Search “Fortnite.” The app should show up, and tapping the cloud icon will initiate the downloading process. Screenshots by Nick Statt/ The Verge
You’ll still have to install the nearly 10GB collection of app files, as Fortnite exists on mobile as a kind of shell for the larger chunk of game files that must be retrieved from Epic servers. But going through this process will put the app back on your home screen and make it available to play once updated, for now at least. The trick even works if any member of an Apple Family Sharing plan has ever downloaded Fortnite on iOS in the past.
It’s not quite right to call this a loophole, as this behavior has always existed in one form or another for iOS apps. For instance, you could still play Flappy Bird for years after its creator pulled the game from the App Store, until Apple switched away from 32-bit apps with the launch of iOS 11 in 2017 and the game ceased functioning.
We’ve known iOS apps could be reinstalled like this, but Fortnite is a special case
But given the unprecedented action Apple took to remove Fortnite from the App Store and then threaten Epic with the termination of its inclusion in its developer program, it’s a good idea to get Fortnite back on your iOS device if you’re interested in keeping up with the game or any of the real-world controversy surrounding it. There’s no telling how long this Fortnite struggle will persist, and whether Epic will ever decide to give in to Apple’s demands and remove its own in-app payment method. As of right now, you can still take Epic up on its price cut offer by paying less for Fortnite v-bucks if you decide to circumvent Apple and its controversial 30 percent cut.
Epic has said that the game’s next season, Chapter 2 Season 4, will launch on August 27th, but it won’t be available on the iOS version of the game due to the ongoing disagreement. That’s also one day before Apple said it would terminate Epic’s developer account and “cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools.” Epic has filed for a preliminary injunction against Apple to prevent this from happening, but we’re awaiting judgement on that matter.
Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and has informed Epic that on Friday, August 28 Apple will terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools. We are asking the court to stop this retaliation. Details here: https://t.co/3br1EHmyd8
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) August 17, 2020