Fortnite to be shut down for real… in China

Fortnite China promo material
Fortnite China was more or less the same game but there were significant differences (pic: Epic Games/Tencent)

Following a more than three years long test period, Epic Games has decided it’s not worth keeping Fortnite up and running in China.

The phrase ‘Fortnite is being shut down’ sounds like a fabrication considering how globally popular and financially successful it is. But that’s exactly what’s happening, at least with the Chinese version of the game.

According to the official Fortnite China website, as translated by Kotaku, players in China only have until November 15 to enjoy the battle royale. Fortnite launched in China in April 2018 (during Chapter 1 Season 5), but not without some modifications.

It features zero microtransactions, due to Chinese regulations, and a number of cosmetic changes were made to remove depictions of skulls and skeletons.

No exact reason has been given as to why Fortnite China is suddenly being shut down, but it may have something to do with China’s video game crackdown. Only a few months ago, the Chinese government introduced new laws that prevent under-18s from playing any more than three hours per weekend.

Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad has also shed some light on the situation, explaining that the Chinese government never technically approved Fortnite’s release and the version available was only ever a test.

Since Fortnite can’t be monetised in China, Epic Games and Tencent ultimately weren’t making enough money to offset the cost of the license and continued support. Ergo, no point in keeping the game up and running.

The battle royale genre as a whole is heavily regulated in China. According to Fortnite Wiki, Fortnite’s entire lore had to be changed so it takes place in a virtual world and all the characters are just holograms to make it less violent. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, another battle royale game, also never received approval for a Chinese release, forcing Tencent to redesign the game and even give it a new name.

This is unlikely to have any meaningful impact on the standard version of Fortnite, but it does effectively rule out another avenue for Epic Games to make money. Fortnite is still banned from the Apple and Google stores for the foreseeable future (technically it is still available on Android, just not through the official store) so Epic is looking for new alternatives to make up for the loss in revenue.

Apparently, it’s seriously considering a Fortnite movie. The project isn’t quite off the ground yet, but Epic Games is setting up a new entertainment division to create scripted video programming, with several former Lucasfilm employees involved.

Fortnite is available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC.

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