Gaming phenomenon Fortnite is only a year old – you’d be hard-pressed to play the game and miss the birthday cakes and balloons on the map to celebrate – but it’s already available on almost every gaming platform you might own. Almost.
You can play the full game on Microsoft Windows and macOS, as well as on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The far more popular mode – the Battle Royale element – is also available on Nintendo Switch and iOS devices right now, so that means most top-end gaming devices will let you drop onto the island and fight.
Epic Games – the company that developed Fortnite – has confirmed it’s coming to Android devices later this year, but the release has taken some time considering it was ready for iOS devices at the start of April.
Why the delay for Android? We don’t currently know – it may have something to do with the variety of devices that use Google's OS – but many appreciate how the company has managed to get its game onto almost all gaming platforms before it even turned a year old; that’s not something every developer can do.
It's a little different, but No Man’s Sky is over two years old and that only just came out on Xbox One, while there’s no word on a PC release date. Fortnite managed to do four other platforms in half that time, including an arguably harder to develop mobile release.
Fortnite’s extraordinary accessibility is why I’m disappointed to hear a rumor that Epic Games will allow the Android release of its most popular game to be an exclusive to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 – at least for a time.
That phone is set to be announced at a Samsung event on August 9 in New York.
A rumor from both 9to5Google (opens in new tab) and XDA Developers (opens in new tab) cites a trusted South Korean source who claims Samsung will have exclusive rights to the game for 30 days when it launches.
I’m excited that Fortnite is finally nearing its Android release, but it's difficult to get jazzed about it being restricted to such a limited audience for its first month. Epic Games said it had no comment when TechRadar asked about the rumors.
So far it looks like it's not even just an exclusive release to Samsung devices – if you own a relatively new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus you'll still have to wait that extra month to be able to play it.
The weird thing is that the Samsung Galaxy Note line isn't well known for its gaming prowess. Last year's Note 8 featured upgrades to the camera, and added a dual-camera system for the first time as well as lots of improvements to its S-Pen stylus, but we didn't see the kinds of improvements to graphics performance that would appeal to gamers.
I can't imagine a surge of young Fortnite fans champing at the bit to go out and buy a super-expensive, stylus-toting top-end Note phone just because they can get the Battle Royale mode a month early.
An unnecessary wait
For fans with Android devices who've already been waiting for more than four months to see the game come to their phones, this just adds an extra month or so to the wait that feels totally unnecessary.
The company has made a free-to-play game that’s purely based on a model where you pay extra for a secondary game mode or cosmetic items for your character. It then made that game available on almost every gaming platform as fast as possible, and the combination of those things saw it surge to become one of the most popular games on the planet.
Even if it's just for a month, restricting the Android Fortnite release to the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is just going to limit the hype. That said, it's hardly likely to grind the Fortnite fever train to a halt.