Since Apple pulled Fortnite down from the iOS App Store earlier this month, some eBay users have apparently paid thousands of dollars for iPhones that had a playable, pre-installed copy of the game. Starting tomorrow, though, those devices will be no different from any other iPhones.
“Apple is blocking Fortnite updates and new installs on the App Store and has said they will terminate our ability to develop Fortnite for Apple devices,” Epic wrote in an FAQ update this morning. “As a result, Fortnite’s newly released Chapter 2 – Season 4 update (v14.00), will not release on iOS and macOS on August 27.”
In other words, Fortnite will finally be fully unplayable on iOS devices starting Thursday. Android users will still be able to install and play the latest update by downloading it directly from Epic or from The Samsung Galaxy Store on compatible devices.
A fool and their money?
It has been clear that Fortnite‘s impending sunset on iOS was coming since at least August 13, when Apple first pulled the frequently updated game from the App Store. But that didn’t stop hundreds of enterprising eBay sellers from listing their Fortnite-enabled iPhones on the site for the time being.
“Don’t miss out on the opportunity to continue playing this awesome game!” read one representative listing that started yesterday. As if that wasn’t audacious enough, that listing also had the gall to say a game with well over 100 million iOS downloads was “rare.”
Unsurprisingly, some of those Fortnite-enabled iPhone listings have been asking for ridiculously inflated prices above MSRP, ranging from the thousands to the tens of thousands of dollars. More surprisingly, some eBay users were apparently willing to pay those inflated prices.
An Ars search of recent successful iPhone sales on eBay found 32 listings in the last week selling for $2,000 or more. That includes one listing that sold for $11,100 after an apparent four-day bidding war. For context, the most expensive standard iPhone currently sells for $1,449 brand new.
A market crash?
Does this mean your iPhone with a copy of Fortnite is suddenly a coveted collector’s item? Not necessarily. For one, despite the apparent outliers (some of which may be fraudulent bid situations), the majority of eBay listings for Fortnite-equipped iPhones are going for more reasonable prices well below $1,000.
That makes this situation different from the 2015 discontinuation of PS4 horror demo P.T. Back then, the vast majority of resold systems with the game pre-installed fetched hundreds of dollars more than used consoles without the game, according to an Ars analysis of completed listings.
For another, it’s not clear that iPhones with Fortnite are any more susceptible to ridiculous price inflation than normal iPhones. Earlier this month, for instance, an iPhone 11 Pro Max without Fortnite installed sold on eBay for nearly $10,000, even though a new one could be purchased from Apple for thousands less. Similar examples of iPhones going for suspiciously high prices on eBay are not hard to find even without Fortnite‘s influence.
Most importantly, though, today’s news from Epic makes it clear that an iPhone Fortnite installation will soon have no tangible value to current players. Until and unless Apple and Epic work out their differences in court (which could take months or even years), there will be no way to play the game on an iOS device.
Of course, that iPhone copy of Fortnite could still have value as a historical oddity. As Twitter user @mistydemeo put it earlier this month, “The rarest iphone in the world has authentic copies of both Flappy Bird and Fortnite.”