Fortnite switched off in China amid crackdown on games

Andrew Griffin
Monday 15 November 2021 17:48
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Fortnite has been switched off in China, amid a broader crackdown on gaming in the country.

Players are now unable to load the game, in line with a pre-announced shutdown.

Unlike in the rest of the world where Fortnite has become a central part of much of the culture, however, Fortnite never truly took off in China. It was held back by regulatory issues from its launch – and never officially launched, with developers referring to it as a “test” even at the end.

Fortnite developers announced the shutdown at the end of the October, when they said the “test” is “coming to an end”. Players had been cut off from registering as new users or downloading the game from 1 November, and then the total shutdown happened on 15 November.

“Thank you for boarding the bus to participate in the Fortnite test!” it said.

Developers did not give any specific indication of why the game had shut down. But it comes amid increasing restrictions in the country: from this summer, for instance, young people are only allowed to play video games for three hours each week.

The Chinese version of Fortnite was always different from the one that players know in the rest of the world. It included a range of changes, including the removal of any depictions of skulls, an alteration so that players were only in control of “holograms” that were disconnected in an attempt to avoid the depiction of violence, and reminders to players after 90 minutes that they should go and study instead.

Not all of those changes were the result of restrictions within China, according to the Fortnite in China wiki. Some came about because rival and similar game PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was launched earlier, and so developers looked to make the game more accessible to those who had newly switched over.

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