How to install Fortnite on Android

Epic Games launched its battle royale hit Fortnite on Android devices last week with a big catch: it was exclusive to Samsung-made phones for a few days as a way to help market the new Samsung Galaxy Note 9. Now, the exclusivity period appears to be over, and beta invite codes are going out to select users of non-Samsung phones like the Google Pixel 2 XL.

If you’re itching to dive off the battle bus on mobile, you might have to hold on just a little while longer: there appears to be a waiting list, just like there was when the game launched on iOS. There’s also a bit of trickiness involving exactly how you get the app because Epic announced it would be distributing the Android version of Fortnite on its own terms.

Last week, the app was distributed through Samsung’s app store, and Epic is using its own website and a Fortnite Installer program to distribute the game more widely on all compatible Android devices. (Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said this is basically to avoid paying Google’s 30 percent cut on in-app purchases.)

Given this unprecedented arrangement, here’s a step-by-step breakdown to make sure you’re prepared and understand the best way to start playing Fortnite on Android.

Step 1: Avoid the Play Store

First and foremost, do not download anything from the Google Play Store or from a third-party web source. Epic has made it clear that it’s only distributing Fortnite on Android through its own website. That means any link you see on Twitter, Reddit, or in the Play Store that claims to provide the official APK file is suspect and not worth the risk of infecting your device with a virus or some other malicious software.

Even searching for the app on the Play Store will return a special warning from Google reading, “Fortnite Battle Royale by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play.” So be wary of anyone claiming to have a workaround to the waiting list, or of any app that looks like it could be legit because, well, it’s probably not.

Step 2: Check your device

If you have a compatible Samsung device, you can download Fortnite right away, either through the Samsung Game Launcher or Epic’s website. That device list includes the new Note 9, of course, but that phone hasn’t even launched yet. Other compatible Samsung devices include the Galaxy S7 / S7 Edge, S8 / S8 Plus, S9 / S9 Plus, and the Note 8, as well as the Tab S3 and S4 tablets.

For those with non-Samsung devices, Epic has a full list on its website here. It includes the original Pixel, Pixel XL, and their successors, along with a suite of midrange to high-end Asus, Huawei, LG, OnePlus, and Xiaomi devices.

Step 3: Sign up for the waiting list

If you don’t have a Samsung device, the best way to get Fortnite on Android right now is to sign up for Epic’s beta through its website. You can do so on mobile or on the web, as Epic is asking just for your email address. When you get to the front of the queue, you’ll get an email invite.

Make sure you log in with your existing Epic account, be it your Epic username on PC or your PlayStation Network / Xbox Live account. That way, you can get Battle Pass progression across platforms and keep your skins, emotes, and other cosmetics on Android.

Step 4: Wait for your invite

The final part of the process is to just hold tight. Epic says it’s “inviting players in waves” and that “you’ll be notified via email once you are invited.” Given how sophisticated the company’s network infrastructure is these days and how many platforms it now supports simultaneously, I imagine it won’t take too long for invites to go out. The company says the process should take a few days.

The iOS version of Fortnite remained in a sign-up beta for a little more than two weeks before it launched for everyone on the App Store. The same should be true for Android — that is unless Epic runs into some unforeseen hurdles due to its direct distribution model. So if you don’t like the waiting list approach, the wider availability may likely occur sometime in September.

Step 5: Download the installer and then the game

Because of the unique distribution model here, you’ll have to download two separate applications, even on Samsung devices. The first will be the Fortnite Installer, which is the official APK file that then installs the game.

In order to do this, you may need to turn off special permissions in your Android settings that allow you to download third-party applications, depending on which version of Android you have and what your existing security settings are. After that, you’ll need to go through a series of download sequences that are a bit more involved than your standard app installation.

Once it’s completed, you should be able to boot up Fortnite, log in into your account, and start playing. Epic is advising users to keep the Fortnite Installer program, as it’ll be responsible for updating the game with new patches.

Google Play warns users it doesn’t carry Fortnite Battle Royale

Google is warning Android users that it doesn’t carry Fortnite Battle Royale in the Play Store. If you search for Fortnite in the Play Store, it will return a notice from Google. “Fortnite Battle Royal by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play,” the sign says, likely as a clarification to users, as first spotted by 9to5Google.

By saying upfront that the Play Store doesn’t have Fortnite, Google is attempting to protect unknowing users who might download some malicious clone of the app.

Epic Games requires users who want to run Fortnite on Android to download an APK of the beta directly from its site. The decision essentially cuts Google out of potential revenue from app purchases, which would have been a 30 percent cut.

Android settings also usually dissuade users from downloading apps from “unknown sources,” likely as another safety mechanism and a way to maintain the importance of the Play Store as the main source for apps.

Earlier today, Google misspelled Royale as “Royal,” but within a few hours, it corrected the typo. A spelling suggestion for “fortnite battle royal” remains, but that’s likely due to users misspelling the app name. The message also doesn’t give instructions on how users can download Fortnite on Android.

Fortnite on Android is not available yet for everyone. It arrived on recent Samsung devices yesterday; availability for all Android devices that can support graphics-intensive gaming is coming later this month.

Fortnite for Android leak shows it’s limited to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 and Tab S4 at launch

Fortnite for Android is coming soon, and rumors have suggested it will be a 30-day exclusive to Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9. A newly leaked version of the game appears to confirm that Fortnite for Android will be limited in some way to Samsung’s latest devices. XDA-Developers has obtained a leaked APK of Fortnite for Android, and has discovered it’s restricted to both the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Galaxy Tab S4.

XDA-Developers reports that the game has a variety of checks for Samsung’s new devices, and it even looks for the existence of Samsung’s S-Pen. Epic Games is planning to launch Fortnite for Android soon, but the company has not yet revealed exactly when it will be available. This leaked copy does make it clear there’s some type of exclusivity for Samsung’s latest devices, but there’s no hints on how long it will last. We’ll likely find out when Samsung launches its Galaxy Note 9 later this week.

Fortnite for Android won’t be available on the Google Play Store once it’s released, though. Epic Games will launch the game through the company’s website, and Android users will need to sideload it to install it. That’s raised some understandable concerns around security and fake APKs of Fortnite for Android. We’ve started to see a number of fake APKs circulating already, and as official copies are making their way outside of Epic Games and Samsung the risk of downloading a fake copy full of malware increases.

Fortnite for Android will ditch Google Play Store for Epic’s website

Epic Games announced today that it will not distribute its massively popular game Fortnite on Android through Google’s Play Store marketplace. Instead, the company plans to directly distribute the software to players through the official Fortnite website, where Android users can download a Fortnite Installer program to install the game on compatible devices. The news confirms reports from earlier this week that Epic would bypass Google for the Android launch of the game.

There is no concrete release date yet for the Android version of Fortnite, but rumors circulating suggest the game’s release will be tied to the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Note 9 launch. Epic declined to comment on the game’s release date or any partnership plans with Samsung.

Regardless, the announcement marks a bold departure from the widespread industry practice of using mobile operating system makers like Apple and Google for app distribution. For Fortnite on iOS, Epic decided to distribute the game on the App Store, most likely because it had no other method of getting iPhone users to easily download the software. (Apple, unlike Google, does not allow iOS users to download apps that are not first approved by its internal review processes and distributed through its proprietary marketplace.) With Google and its more open platform, Epic can get away with distributing the app itself.

CEO Tim Sweeney says the primary motivation here is twofold. Epic wants to maintain its direct relationship with consumers. (The company currently distributes Fortnite on PC through its own Epic Games Launcher, instead of using Valve’s popular Steam platform.)

“Epic wants to have a direct relationship with our customers on all platforms where that’s possible,” Sweeney told The Verge over email. “The great thing about the Internet and the digital revolution is that this is possible, now that physical storefronts and middlemen distributors are no longer required.”

Revenue from Fortnite is generated entirely from in-game from purchases of cosmetic items like costumes and dance moves and its Battle Pass subscription service.
Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

The second reason is financial: Epic does not want to pay Google’s 30 percent cut, especially considering the entire game is funded through in-app purchases. “The 30 percent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 percent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games,” Sweeney says. “There’s a rationale for this on console where there’s enormous investment in hardware, often sold below cost, and marketing campaigns in broad partnership with publishers.”

But on mobile platforms that are open, like Android, “30 percent is disproportionate to the cost of the services these stores perform, such as payment processing, download bandwidth, and customer service,” he says. Sweeney adds that Epic is “intimately familiar with these costs” from its direct distribution of Fortnite on Mac and PC.

Fortnite on iOS made $15 million in its first three weeks on the market, so it’s reasonable to assume the mobile version of the game is a sizable source of revenue for Epic. Last month, the company also reduced the revenue cut it takes from asset makers who sell digital work on its Unreal Engine 4 platform, in part because of the ongoing financial success of Fortnite.

Reasonably, there are some concerns about how exactly this will work, and whether it opens up Android users to any potential security or data privacy risks since running third-party software outside the Play Store involves removing certain protections on Android devices. Sweeney says he doesn’t see security as a big issue here. “Gamers have proven able to adopt safe software practices, and gaming has thrived on the open PC platform through many sources.” He cites marketplaces like Steam, Activision Blizzard’s, and Riot Games’ League of Legends platform.

We’re confident Android will be similarly successful,” Sweeney adds. “Most importantly, mobile operating systems increasingly provide robust, permissions-based security, enabling users to choose what each app is allowed to do: save files; access the microphone; access your contacts. In our view, this is the way all computer and smartphone platforms should provide security, rather than entrusting one monopoly app store as the arbiter of what software users are allowed to obtain.”

There are a number of open questions from here onward, principally how Google will respond. (The company was not immediately available for comment.) Furthermore, we don’t know how this will eventually impact availability in China. Sweeney says the initial Android launch of Fortnite will be worldwide excluding China, and he says Epic is currently working out a China launch for both iOS and Android.

“Because Google Play doesn’t operate in China, the whole China Android market is already served by other direct-to-customer software sources such as Tencent’s WeChat and the Xiaomi Store,” Sweeney says. He added that the company is “exploring various possibilities” for distributing Fortnite on other third-party app stores, but it has nothing to announce right now.

That said, Epic’s move here will surely have a big impact on what app makers decide to do in the future. Fortnite is popular enough — it has more than 125 million registered players as of June — that scores of Android users will likely download the game at launch, even if it requires a little bit more technical know-how than usual. And Epic has the industry clout and technological resources to go it alone in this regard, as it has been doing for years now on the PC platform.

Still, that Epic is making such an audacious move with the Android release of Fortnite, which will arguably be its most popular platform, is an eye-popping turn of events for an already unprecedented gaming narrative.

Alto’s Odyssey is now available on Android

Noodlecake Studios has just published the Android version of Alto’s Odyssey on the Google Play Store. Unlike the original $4.99 iOS release, the Android port is free to play with optional in-app purchases. Alto’s Odyssey is the sequel to Alto’s Adventure, a hit mobile game that reached 36 million downloads on Android and helped expand the reach of the indie studio beyond its success within Apple’s ecosystem.

Alto’s Odyssey is a beautifully designed, simple-yet-challenging snowboarding (sandboarding?) game that takes the player on a serene trip through gorgeous desert scenery. There’s also a “zen” mode, which strips the game’s user interface and notifications away so you can simply enjoy the soundtrack and art style. It’s a terrific sequel to what was already a game easily worth the download.