Epic Games launched its battle royale hit Fortnite on Android devices in 2018 with a big catch: it was exclusive to Samsung-made phones for a few days as a way to help market the then-new Samsung Galaxy Note 9.
At the time, would-be players had to deal with a waiting list and / or a restrictive list of qualified Android phones. These days, it’s a lot easier — but you still need to download it directly from Epic. (Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said this is basically to avoid paying Google’s 30 percent cut on in-app purchases.) Epic is using its own website and a Fortnite Installer program to distribute the game more widely on all compatible Android devices.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown to make sure you’re prepared and understand the best way to start playing Fortnite on Android. But before we get to the nitty-gritty, a brief warning:
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 and through Samsung’s Galaxy Store. Searching for the game on the Play Store will get you a simple “No results” message. (Originally, searches would return a special warning from Google reading, “Fortnite Battle Royale by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play” because of worries about malware-laden fake versions.)
Download the installer and then the game
Because of the unique distribution model here, you’ll have to download two separate applications. 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.
Here’s a blow-by-blow of the steps you’ll go through:
- Go to the Epic Games site using your phone to download the installer.
- The APK downloader will appear as a pop-up on your screen.
- You’ll have to give permission to download the APK.
- Toggle the permission on.
- This only means the installer is installed. You’re not done yet.
- The installer icon will be named Epic Games.
- Open the installer and tap the Fortnite graphic.
- Tap “Install.” You’ll have to give the same permissions as before, but you’ll then have installed the game.
- If you have a Samsung phone, you can go to the the Galaxy Store to download the installer for Epic Games. You can then skip to step 6.
- Otherwise, go directly to Epic’s site. You’ll find a page suggesting that you either visit fortnite.com/android on your phone or scan a QR code.
- Whichever method you choose, you’ll be sent to a page that gives you some instruction on what to expect. You’ll also get a pop-up for the installer; tap “Open.”
- You will probably get a security notice saying that your phone isn’t allowed to install unknown apps from that source. Tap on “Settings.” A page labeled “Install unknown apps” will let you toggle on “Allow from this source.”
- You will then be asked if you want to install the app. Tap on “Install.” When you get the “App install” pop-up, tap on “Done.”
- The installer will appear on your homepage and in your phone’s app list as Epic Games. You may also get a download notification for the APK. Tap on the icon or on the APK notification.
- You’ll land on a page with the Fortnite graphic. Tap on that, and then on “Install.”
- You’ll probably get that message again about installing unknown apps. Once again, tap on Settings and toggle on “Allow from this source.”
- The app will then install, load any updates, and open.
Once it’s completed, you should be able to boot up Fortnite, log into your account, and start playing. In the past, Epic has advised users to keep the Fortnite Installer program, as it’ll be responsible for updating the game with new patches.
Update October 20th, 2021, 11:50AM ET: This article was originally published on August 13th, 2018; the process of installing the game has been updated.