Saturday, December 3

‘Fortnite’ will close in China: what will happen to the players?

Hong Kong (CNN Business) — The Chinese version of the hit video game “Fortnite” will close this month.

The game stopped accepting registrations for new players and was no longer available for download as of Monday, according to a statement on its website. Their servers will be shut down on November 15, which means that players will no longer be able to log into the game.

The successful multiplayer battle title, developed by Epic Games, launched in China in July 2018 in partnership with Tencent (TCEHY). The Chinese internet and gaming giant bought about a 40% stake in Epic Games nearly a decade ago.

In its most popular version, “Fortnite” pits up to 100 players against each other in a fight for survival. The game has become a cultural phenomenon, and last year it hosted musical performances by artists like Marshmello and Travis Scott, as well as three films by director Christopher Nolan.

The game had more than 350 million registered players as of May 2020, according to its Twitter account. It’s the flagship title for Epic Games, which in June said it has more than 500 million accounts across its main titles and online video game store.

This week’s announcement described Fortnite in China as a trial version of the game. He did not say why the game was closing, but thanked the players “who have participated in the ‘Fortnite’ tests.”

Tencent declined to comment with CNN Business when asked for more details about the Chinese version of the title and the reason for closing it. Epic Games did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The game was “never approved” by the Chinese government and therefore could not officially launch and monetize its services, tweeted Daniel Ahmad, a senior analyst at Niko Partners who covers the video game market in China and Asia.

This is the character of LeBron James in Fortnite 0:20

“Fortnite” works largely as a free game with in-app purchases, meaning that players can download the game at no cost, but then spend real money on items like costumes for their characters.

Ahmad added that the Battle Royale genre “has been strictly regulated in China.”

The Chinese authorities have also been cracking down on video games lately. In August, the country banned online players under the age of 18 from playing on weekdays and limited their gambling to just three hours on most weekends.

In September, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported that authorities had called Tencent, NetEase and other companies to discuss restrictions on the transmission and playback of video games among minors.

During the meeting, companies were urged to “break away from the solitary approach of seeking profit or attracting players and fans,” according to the report.

Michelle Toh contributed to this report.

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