Gaming giant Epic withdraws Fortnite from China over regulatory crackdown

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U.S. tech giant Epic Games has announced it will shut down its popular survival game Fortnite in China, months after authorities imposed a series of strict restrictions on the world’s largest gaming market as part of a radical repression of the technological sector.

Beijing has embarked on a sweeping regulatory crackdown on a number of industries in a bid to tighten its control over the economy, with tech companies bearing the brunt.

In September, officials said they wanted to tackle addiction in the crazy gaming nation by announcing drastic cuts in the time children can spend playing online and ordering players to use ID cards. during registration.

These measures have dealt a severe blow to the ability of companies to make profits and have caused the stock prices of gaming companies to fall.

Now, Epic has unplugged Fortnite, claiming it will shut down the hugely popular game on November 15.

“Fortnite China’s beta test has come to an end and the servers will be shut down soon,” he said in a statement.

“On November 15th at 11:00 am, we will be deactivating the game servers and players will no longer be able to connect.”

Hong Kong-listed shares of Tencent, which owns a large stake in Epic, were down on Tuesday.

The move ends a long-standing test of Epic’s version of Fortnite specifically created for the Chinese market, where content is screened for excessive violence.

The Chinese test version was released in 2018, but Fortnite never received the green light from the government for an official launch as approvals for new games have slowed.

The action-packed world-building shooter is one of the most popular in the world, with over 350 million users – more than the population of the United States.

Industry repression

Epic is the second US-based company to pull a popular product from China in recent weeks, after Microsoft announced in October that it would shut down its social network LinkedIn.

In September, hundreds of Chinese video game makers, including Tencent, pledged to better control their products for “politically harmful” content and to impose restrictions on underage gamers because they appeared to comply with government requirements.

The 213 game companies have pledged in a joint statement to ban content “politically harmful, historically nihilistic, dirty and pornographic, bloody and terrifying”.

Regulators have also ordered Chinese game companies to stop focusing on profits and winning fans, with the companies seen as flouting the rules and threatened with sanctions.

Fortnite’s announcement was greeted with sadness by fans in China, who took to social media to mourn the loss of the game.

“I’m really crying so loud – I was just playing with my boyfriend and really couldn’t wait to see what was to come,” wrote one Weibo user. “It’s just so sudden.”

Many said they spent hundreds of hours building their characters and social media on the game.

Several Fortnite fan accounts on Weibo shared a link to a petition in which players urged Epic to transfer player data to servers outside of China, writing that they would lose game data with “our hearts and our minds “stored in it.

(AFP)

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