Why You Shouldn't Install Fortnite APKs On Your Android 

Fortnite Battle Royale, one of the most popular battle royale games around, is finally on Android. And you get first dibs with the beta if you own a Samsung device — a list that includes its flagship Galaxy S9 / S9 Plus (and its predecessors, the S8 / S8 Plus); the Note8 (and the just-announced Galaxy Note9, when it arrives later this month); as well as the Galaxy S7, S7 Edge and Tab S3.

If your device isn’t on that list, but you’re itching to get yourself into a battle royale on your Android device, you might be tempted to download one of the many modified .APKs for Fortnite that are making the rounds right now. And I don’t blame you. Videos such as the one shown above show how tantalisingly close you are to playing a great third-person shooter on your tiny device.

Here’s the problem. You have absolutely no idea what’s in a modified .APK file. At best, you might get something like this: A tweaked APK that does a good-enough job bypassing Epic Games’ stupid exclusivity restrictions to get you into the game, like so:

So close so close so close (Screenshot: David Murphy)

But that .APK still isn’t good enough to get around Epic Games’ comprehensive security checks. You’ll leap out of the Battle Bus with a huge grin on your face, get oh-so-close to shooting the first unsuspecting player you see, and have the game quit out within a few seconds of you landing on the ground. Oh, Epic; you temptress, you.

Nuts. (Screenshot: David Murphy)

If you want to keep playing the big cat-and-mouse game, which involves modders trying to find workarounds to Epic’s restrictions (while watching posted .APK files receive DMCA takedowns), that’s on you. You’ll find plenty of places you can obsessively check to get a modified .APK onto your device, and your character actually into the game, before Epic closes any workarounds. (And here’s hoping they don’t ban your account, too.)

And I get it, I do. The first thing I did once Fortnite’s beta went live for Samsung users yesterday was to look for a some kind of hack so I could play it on my Pixel 2. Even though Epic claims it will be a “few days” until non-Samsung devices get their shot at Fortnite, waiting is annoying.

What would really be unpleasant, though, is if you (or I) download some kind of malware disguised as a modified Fortnite .APK. Sure, it’s easy to compare checksums to confirm that an .APK file is Epic’s official file for Fortnite, but you have no idea what someone has included when tweaking an .APK to bypass Epic’s security measures: Some piece of code that, oh, logs your login credentials on a server somewhere, or a spammy request for you to fill out some bogus survey.

My advice? Wait a few days until you can play the game, for real, on whatever Android device you own. If you are truly impatient, go slap Magisk on your Android smartphone — so you can have root access without modifying system files — and wait for someone to make a workaround that fools Fortnite into thinking your smartphone is a beta-friendly Samsung smartphone. And then, play an unmodified Fortnite APK, not a modified one. (Aren’t exclusivity deals fun?)


Comments

    The Epic website seems to list a lot more than just Samsung phones. Maybe they are just adding devices to the beta as they test them, rather than having an exclusivity deal with one manufacturer?

    Making Fortnite available on Android *only* outside of the platform's app store setup is so godsdamned dangerous and user-hostile.

    I can partly understand why Epic want to do this (so that Google doesn't get a cut of the sales), but is it worth the serious level of security risk for the game's mostly young and not security-savvy playerbase?

    I think they just need to suck it up and put it on the Android app store.

      It's not as bad as installing random software on a Windows system though, which people are happy to do. The game will still be confined under the Android security model, and modern versions of Android default to performing malware checks on side-loaded APKs.

      There's still reasons to prefer software coming from a recognised store. Most importantly, a standardised update mechanism.

    If you have a rooted phone, you can change all the details the OS presents to the game, should be able to make it run completely fine.

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