(Credit: Epic Games)

When it comes to shooting games where you compete against other players online, Fortnite (Android, iOS) has dominated the conversation ever since its maker Epic Games made the "Battle Royale" mode free to play. And it's not just on consoles and PCs. Fortnite has also proved popular on Android and iPhones, though there have been a few familiar (and unfamiliar) hurdles.

SEE: How to play Fortnite Mobile and win: A guide for beginners

Controlling a character in a 3D space where you must aim a weapon with precision while also avoiding incoming gunfire can be pretty tricky when you have only touchscreen controls. So in the wake of Fortnite's arrival on iOS and Android, Epic quickly began fielding questions about when we could start using a gamepad, or what other adjustments might be made to the screen to make it easier for gamers to play.

Epic has kept its cards close to its chest since the mobile launch. Since making Battle Royale free to play, Fortnite has become an unprecedented blockbuster, so the company understandably doesn't want to rock the boat or float ideas that might never see the light of day.

But this weekend, it sent out an update on the state of Fortnite's mobile development, and it said that the company had actively begun testing " various controller setups" and that "We'll give you a status update on these when we get it to a better state." Notably, Epic did not specify a platform, indicating that the developer team is working on gamepad support for both iOS and Android.

There was a four-month delay between the iOS and Android releases, though that was probably in part due to the fact that the Android version does not actually use the Google Play Store like usual. Citing Google's 30 percent cut of all app revenue as a central reason, Epic asks users to "sideload" or manually install the game instead.

(Apple takes a customary cut as well, but sideloading is largely impractical due to iOS's stricter security system. So the iPhone and iPad version is available only on the Apple App Store.)

That said, Epic's phrasing still gives it room to prioritize one platform over another.

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Other updates coming for Fortnite Mobile

In addition to that nugget of info, the Fortnite Mobile team reports that its working on making the elements on the screen customizable. Specifically, you'll be able to hide the elements that you decide you don't need, so that there's less clutter and more visible space for the game itself.

Being able to see what's going on from one moment to the next is important when your character can get eliminated in a matter of seconds, so the more screen space dedicated to the game world, the better. However, the team says, "We brought back building from the quickbar buttons, which we previously disabled due to it blocking some of our experienced builders."

Also, the mobile version operates at a maximum of thirty frames per second (fps), whereas phones and tablets can operate at 60Hz or 60 fps. A higher framerate requires a beefier phone, but Epic says that Fortnite will be getting the 60 fps treatment "In the near future ... on a limited set of high-end devices."

The Android version launched in partnership with Samsung, who released its Galaxy Note 9 at the same time, so we expect to see that phablet on the list, and probably the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus as well (not to mention Apple's iPhone XS and new iPad Pro). Samsung provides a download of the game for its devices that's moderately easier than fully manual sideloading.

Last but not least, Fortnite Mobile will also be getting performance improvements, optimizations for older versions of Android, and smaller download sizes for its frequent updates.

Takeaways

  • The Fortnite Mobile developer team announced that gamepad support had entered the 'beginning testing" stage, after months of speculation.
  • The team also added screen element customization, smaller update download sizes, and support for 60 frames per second on higher-end devices.

Also see

Tom McNamara is a Senior Editor for CNET's Download.com. He mainly covers Windows, mobile and desktop security, games, Google, streaming services, and social media. Tom was also an editor at Maximum PC and IGN, and his work has appeared on CNET, PC Gamer, MSN.com, and Salon.com. He's also unreasonably proud that he's kept the same phone for more than two years.