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Microsoft and Epic partner to put ‘Fortnite’ on Xbox Cloud Gaming in surprising collaboration

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(Epic Games Image)

Microsoft’s Xbox division is collaborating with Epic Games to put the popular free-to-play online game Fortnite up on its cloud gaming servers.

As of May 5, anyone in one of 26 countries with a Microsoft account, an internet connection, and a compatible internet device can use it to play Fortnite via the Xbox cloud servers. No other accounts or subscriptions are required.

“It’s an important step to add a Free-to-Play title to the cloud gaming catalog as we continue our cloud journey,” Xbox said in a blog post. “We’re starting with Fortnite and will look to bring more Free-to-Play games people love in the future.”

Fortnite on Xbox Cloud Gaming is compatible with iOS and Android phones and tablets, and Windows 10 PCs via web browser. It appears to be the console version of the game, and can be played with a standard gamepad or touchscreen controls.

As with other cloud games, you’re essentially starting up a remote instance of Fortnite on one of Microsoft’s web servers and using your device as a go-between. As long as your phone or tablet can handle HD video streaming without immediately bursting into flames, it can handle Xbox Cloud Gaming.

That being said, Fortnite is an online game, so the speed of your internet connection will be an equally limiting factor. As we’ve discussed before, cloud games are already bandwidth hogs, so trying to maintain a connection to both a game’s server and Microsoft’s cloud simultaneously is likely to stress the typical residential connection.

Even so, this is a surprising move from both Microsoft and Epic. Xbox Cloud Gaming is typically restricted to subscribers on the Ultimate tier of the Xbox Game Pass, but this expands Fortnite‘s console audience to, theoretically, nearly everyone in 26 countries.

The Master Chief from Halo is available as a paid costume in Fortnite, alongside characters from other game franchises like Uncharted, Resident Evil, Street Fighter, Tomb Raider, and God of War. (Fortnite screenshot)

While Fortnite is not quite as ubquitous as it was a couple of years ago, it’s still a force to be reckoned with in the modern media landscape. Following the release of a new season of content in mid-April, third-party analysts have estimated that 3 to 8 million people are playing Fortnite at any given time, with an average of 24 million players over the course of any given day.

While Fortnite is free to download and play on multiple platforms, Epic has built a billion-dollar business off of its purchasable outfits. Players can opt to buy a virtual currency with real money that can be spent on items to customize their in-game avatars, such as weapons, backpacks, hats, shirts, and entire costumes.

In addition to its potential popularity as a virtual concert venue, many major Hollywood films and other game franchises have made deals with Epic to make various characters available as paid cosmetics for characters in Fortnite. This includes a costume based on Doctor Strange, as a cross-promotion with this week’s new MCU film, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

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