Microsoft is using “Fortnite” to fuel its cloud gaming growth

A ‘Fortnite’ fan dressed as a character from the game.
A ‘Fortnite’ fan dressed as a character from the game.
Image: REUTERS/Mike Blake
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Fortnite and its roughly 350 million players will once again be widely available to Apple iOS device users thanks to a new deal between its owner, Epic Games, and Microsoft. Beginning today, Fortnite fans will be able to use Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming platform to access the game on iPhones and iPads as well as on Android devices and Windows PCs. 

The move marks the first broad access to the game for iOS users since 2020 when Apple removed the game from its App Store over a dispute regarding Apple’s 30% developer fee. In January, dedicated iOS Fortnite users were offered a closed beta program from Nvidia to play the game, but access is limited. 

Microsoft’s free-to-play strategy is targeting cloud gaming supremacy

Access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming service for Fortnite gamers will be free of charge and only require signing up for a Microsoft account. Generally, gamers are required to buy a $14.99 a month subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Microsoft’s 25 million-player-strong games marketplace, to gain access to Xbox Cloud Gaming. 

With the new Fortnite deal as the first free game on Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft looks to add a good portion of Fortnite‘s 116 million iOS gamers to the 10 million users currently on Xbox Cloud Gaming. Fortnite’s entry into the Microsoft cloud gaming ecosystem further bolsters its position against competitors like Google Stadia, and PlayStation Plus (previously known as PlayStation Now). 

Gaming is the front line of growing the metaverse from hype to revenue

Beyond talk of virtual reality and cryptocurrency, one of the underreported aspects of the much-hyped metaverse is its reliance on cloud computing. Microsoft’s increasing focus on cloud-related services is a signal that it plans to be at the center of the growing space. 

Likewise, its recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard for roughly $75 billion (a deal currently under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission) is proof that Microsoft’s Xbox platform is becoming increasingly central to its future user growth aspirations. By tapping Fortnite and its abandoned Apple device users, Microsoft is inching toward the same kind of market dominance it still enjoys in the business computing space.