A hot potato: China is continuing its crusade against popular online games, with Fortnite being the latest victim of the country’s increasingly restrictive regulatory environment. The popular battle royale game had been in beta since 2018, but it looks like the Chinese government has decided that it won’t be granting a license to Epic Games and Tencent for an official launch.
Epic Games will be shutting down Fortnite in China in the next two weeks. According to a post on Fortnite’s Chinese website, Epic and Tencent are sunsetting the popular free-to-play battle royale title in the country, which means that come November 15, gamers won’t be able to register an account or download the game.
The message on the website readsm “the test of Fortress Night has come to an end,” and there’s also a mention that the servers will be shut down in the near future. However, neither Epic nor Tencent have given any reasons for the abrupt decision.
It’s worth noting that players who have played the Chinese version of Fortnite were treated to a different experience than everyone else around the world. For instance, there was a separate health bar for damage sustained in the storm, and it was possible for multiple players to earn a Victory Royale if they survived for long enough. That’s just a small part of a list of cosmetic and gameplay changes that were applied to the game in order to appease regulators.
Nobody knows how large the Chinese player base was, and the game was never officially launched in the country. Fortnite had been in beta testing in China for over two years for a rather simple reason — the Chinese government never granted Tencent a license.
This also means that Tencent wasn’t able to make money on in-app transactions, a situation that has also applied to the original version of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. The company tried re-launching the game in a more patriotic, gore-free form in 2019 under the title “Game for Peace,” and that version did receive the green light from regulators.
Chinese Fortnite players will now have to find workarounds to play the international version of the game, as the local version is no longer legal in the country. Some speculate the abrupt closure is linked to China’s restrictive laws on gaming for children under the age of 18, who are technically only allowed to play games for a total of three hours per week, so they may be protected from “spiritual opium.”