Steam Deck won’t run Fortnite, Epic confirms

Fortnite Titled Towers Chapter 3 update
(Image credit: Epic Games)

Fortnite won’t be playable on the Steam Deck, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney has clarified.

The news came via a series of tweets from the CEO in response to a denizen of Twitter who asked whether there were any plans to update Fortnite to make it Proton-compatible (in terms of its anti-cheat systems) so it could run on the Steam Deck (which uses the Proton compatibility layer to play Windows games).

The short answer was no, as you can see for yourself:

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Sweeney did make it clear that Easy Anti Cheat – and remember, EAC is the anti-cheat system which Epic owns (and one that’s used in Fortnite, of course) – is the subject of a ‘big effort’ to maximize compatibility with the Steam Deck (an initiative that we’ve heard a lot about from Valve already).

While Fortnite isn’t on Steam, as you’re doubtless aware, enterprising users could still be able to run the battle royale on the Steam Deck in theory – the handheld is a Linux PC at heart, after all. If Fortnite was updated to work with Proton under Linux, that is, but what Sweeney is making clear is that this isn’t going to happen.

Analysis: So why won’t Epic make Fortnite available for the Steam Deck?

Making Fortnite compatible would be a matter of updating the game and tuning its anti-cheat tech to play nice with Proton. However, as Sweeney makes clear, he isn’t convinced this is the right thing to do in that it would make for an ongoing headache in terms of policing cheating within the game. As the CEO tweets: “We don’t have confidence that we’d be able to combat cheating at scale under a wide array of [Linux] kernel configurations including custom ones.”

When the first reply to that tweet was an accusation that “newsflash: CEO does not trust his own product”, Sweeney swiftly fired back: “With regard to anti-cheat on the Linux platform supporting custom kernels and the threat model to a game of Fortnite’s size, YES THAT’S EXACTLY RIGHT!”

Another reason the chief exec elaborates on in a further tweet runs as follows: “Epic would be happy to put Fortnite on Steam. We wouldn’t be happy to give Steam 20-30% of its revenue for the privilege.

“Supporting Steam Deck hardware is a separate issue, but the market for non-Steam-hosted games on limited availability Steam Deck hardware is how big exactly?”

In other words, the effort of getting Fortnite on Steam Deck – and combating cheats – would not nearly match up to the potential market and reward as things stand. It’s not clear what Steam Deck numbers will be in terms of shipments, but pre-orders were quickly pushed out a long way, and it’s safe to say there probably won’t be all that many units out there for some time yet (given all the component shortages and difficulties any tech production line is facing right now, which broadly aren’t expected to get any better until later in 2022).

That said, if the Steam Deck blazes a trail for itself and becomes massive in time, well, maybe Epic will think differently in the future.

As a final note, some gamers on Twitter seem to have gotten confused as to Sweeney’s message here somehow relating to progress with making EAC games compatible with Steam Deck, and to clarify, that’s absolutely not what he’s saying. As noted above, there’s a big push being made with overall EAC compatibility with Proton; what he’s talking about in these tweets is specifically Fortnite.

Via PC Gamer

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).