Why are People Selling ‘Fortnite’ iPhones for Thousands of Dollars?

Why are People Selling ‘Fortnite’ iPhones for Thousands of Dollars?

Desperate times bring out the worst in people — from those who hoarded toilet paper and sold individual rolls for more than $50 each at the start of the COVID-19 quarantine, to those who are now trying to sell crappy iPhones with the Fortnite game installed on them for thousands of dollars.

I’d normally write this off as a lame attempt to sucker people out of their money that’s obviously not going to work, but apparently it has worked. Some eBay shoppers are spending outrageous amounts of money on iPhones they don’t need.

Screenshot: David Murphy
Screenshot: David Murphy

It’s bad enough if you buy a top-of-the-line used iPhone 11 Pro for more than what a Apple charges for a brand-new iPhone; it’s worse when you’re spending that kind of stupid money — again, thousands of dollars — on something like a used iPhone XR or iPhone 8 Plus. There’s a sucker born every minute, and in a perfect world eBay would have some kind of “common sense” test they would have to first pass in order to use the service.

Anyway, here’s why this is all just one big scam that you should avoid no matter how much your kid complains about how they can’t install Fortnite on their iPhone or iPad.

You should never overpay for a years-old iPhone

First, and most obvious, is the fact that you’re paying way, way more for an iPhone than what it’s worth for one game. If you’re going to plunk down $5,000 for a $1,000 smartphone, buy your kid a $1,000 laptop and let them play Fortnite on that. Heck, even a $700 laptop should be enough to get them on the bus and waving to the driver without issue.

You might not get to play Fortnite for very long

Second, and more importantly, there’s absolutely no guarantee that an iPhone with Fortnite already installed on it — as is the case for many Fortnite fans — will be able to play the game for much longer. All it takes is one iOS update that breaks some issue in the game to render it completely unplayable. Fortnite creator Epic Games has no way to get you an updated version of the game, as it no longer exists on the App Store, nor will Epic Games even have an Apple developer account for much longer. Your Fortnite time feels limited.

Even in a best-case scenario, you won’t be able to play the latest version of the game with any seasonal updates Epic Games throws into the mix. I have no idea how long you’ll be able to keep on playing an older version of Fortnite, but odds are good that even this window will eventually close.

You might waste every cent you’re spending

Finally, you might not even need an iPhone that has Fortnite already installed on it. While it’s true that you won’t be able to find Fortnite on the App Store anymore, that doesn’t mean you can’t download it from the App Store.

Here’s what I mean. If you’ve ever downloaded Fortnite before on iOS — I would assume most people who are looking to get the game now have at least tried it at some point in its three-year history — then it’s still associated with your account.

Screenshot: David Murphy
Screenshot: David Murphy

Pull up the App Store, tap on your account’s icon in the upper-right corner, and tap on “Purchased.” Search for “Fortnite,” and if you’re lucky, it’ll be available for you to re-download. That’s a lot easier, and a lot cheaper, than buying someone else’s iPhone, but I do applaud these eBay sellers for the hustle. Just…no.


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