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How to install Fortnite on Android phones without using the Google Play Store

CNET logo CNET 8/26/2020 Jason Cipriani
Fortnite and Google are in a fight -- here's how you can download the wildly popular game now. Angela Lang/CNET © Provided by CNET Fortnite and Google are in a fight -- here's how you can download the wildly popular game now. Angela Lang/CNET

Earlier this month, Google  removed Fortnite from the Google Play Store after publisher Epic Games tried to get around the 30% fee the company charges app developers for purchases on its platform (Apple, which charges the same fee, also removed the battle royale game). The decision led Epic to file lawsuits against the tech giants while promoting the hashtag #FreeFortnite on social media. 

a screenshot of a computer © CNET

But don't fret, Android users, you can still install and play Fortnite on your phone or tablet; it just takes a little more work. Before we begin, a word of caution: Sideloading apps on your phone or tablet is a security risk, and should only be done as a last resort using sources you trust. In this case, Epic Games is a reputable source. 

All you'll need to do is make sure your device is compatible with Fortnite, and then follow the directions below based on the brand of Android device you're using, with Samsung phones having access to the game in the Galaxy Store. 

Get Fortnite directly from Epic Games

The Google Play Store is the primary source to download the Android game, but players also can download it directly from Epic. You can either go to fortnite.com/android on your phone or scan the QR code that's shown on that page when you visit it on a computer. 

a screenshot of a cell phone: If you really want to get your game on, then sideloading Fortnite is the only way. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET © Provided by CNET If you really want to get your game on, then sideloading Fortnite is the only way. Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Once there, tap the Get it on the Epic Games app button and follow the instructions to download and install the Epic Games app, which you then use to download and install Fortnite. It's confusing, I know. But if you want to keep cranking 90s and winning matches, this is what you'll need to do. 

The process requires you to allow Chrome (or your browser of choice) to download Android apps and install them. Once you install Epic Games, you can follow the instructions to install Fortnite. Again, you'll need to allow another app (this time Epic Games), to install apps on your phone. 

Once it's installed, launch Fortnite, sign into your Epic Games account and start playing. 

It's important that after you've installed the Epic Games app, you go back and disable Chrome's ability to install apps. To do that, go into Settings > AppsChrome and find the Install unknown apps option, then slide the switch to the Off position. This extra step will prevent Chrome from downloading and installing Android apps in the future, something that keeps your device safer. 

a close up of a cell phone: Installing Fortnite on a Samsung phone is a lot easier than other Android devices. Picture by Jason Cipriani/CNET © Provided by CNET Installing Fortnite on a Samsung phone is a lot easier than other Android devices. Picture by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Have a Samsung phone? Use the Galaxy Store

Samsung phones and tablets come with the company's own app store preinstalled, allowing you to access apps outside of the Play Store without any weird workarounds. And it just so happens that the Epic Games app has been available in this store since 2018. 

Get Fortnite on your Samsung device by opening the Galaxy Store and searching for Fortnite or Epic Games. The top result should be the Epic Games app. Download and install it, and then follow the steps in the app to install Fortnite. 

Once it's installed, launch Fortnite, sign into your Epic Games account and start playing.

Stream Fortnite via GeForce Now

Another option, though not the most ideal, is to play the game through Nvidia's cloud gaming service, GeForce Now. Through the service, you can play PC games by streaming them to your Android device.

To start, you'll need to sign up for an account at Nvidia's website. You can get a free account that includes 1,080p/60 frames per second streaming but comes with a one-hour session limit. Priority access and a six-hour limit are available for those who have the Founders membership, at a cost of $4.99 a month. 

After signing up for an account, download the GeForce Now app in the Google Play Store. Open it and log in to your account. On the app's main page, do a search for Fortnite and select "Add to Library" so that it shows up the next time you start the app. Tap on "Play" to get the game started. Once connected to the servers, you'll have to log in to whichever account you use to play Fortnite, such as an Epic Games, Google Play or Facebook account. 

One caveat of this option is that, because the game is streaming from Nvidia's servers, your internet connection needs to have minimal hiccups. Even the best connections will come with a hint of lag when it comes to playing via GeForce Now. Also, it's highly recommended to use a Bluetooth game-pad rather than the app's touch controls. 

What if I already have Fortnite installed from the Google Play Store? 

The good news is that you can still play the game just fine. The bad news is you won't be able to update Fortnite. This legal development comes at an interesting time, with the next season starting Aug. 27. Each season brings a major update to the game, and it's unclear if players with previous versions of the game will be able to participate. 

Ultimately, it's likely you'll have to install Fortnite using one of the methods outlined above if you want to take part in the new season. 

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