Epic Games pulled the plug on its Chinese version of Fortnite on Monday,(Fortnite Hack) with its three-year effort to enter the world’s biggest gaming market derailed by Communist Party crackdowns against online addiction and the wider tech sector.
Epic announced two weeks ago that it would be shutting down the Chinese version of the game on November 15, noting that “Fortnite China’s beta testing has ended” and the servers would be shut down.
Chinese players said they could not access the game on Monday, posting goodbye on social media platform Weibo. A discussion board on the game was viewed 470 million times.
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“It’s a pity,” a user who gave only
his surname Ding told AFP.
“I don’t understand why it ended so quickly.”
Another player named Zheng, 24, told AFP he would “cry a little at first” over the game he played for more than two years at the university.
The move ends a long-running trial of Fortnite made for China, where the material is polished to extreme violence.
The action-packed shooter and world-building game is one of the most popular in the world, with over 350 million users.
Its Chinese trial version was released in 2018, but “Fortnite” never got the government’s green light to formally launch and be monetized as approval for the new game.
The Chinese government has taken massive crackdowns on the vast technology sector over the past year, citing concerns that the tech giant was getting too big and powerful.
Stating that kids were spending too much time playing online games, regulators also targeted the vast gaming sector with new eras and play-time restrictions, while acceptance of new titles has slowed.
In September, hundreds of Chinese video game makers, including Tencent, vowed to improve their products for “politically harmful” content and ban underage players because they were in line with government demands.
Neither Epic nor Chinese gaming and messaging giant Tencent—which owns a stake in the game developer—offered an immediate response to an AFP request for comment.
Beijing’s campaign to tighten its control over the economy and enterprises has affected many industries, with tech firms bearing the brunt.
Epic’s move comes after Microsoft announced in October that it would shut down a version of its career-oriented social network LinkedIn for China, and Yahoo’s decision earlier this month to also exit the country.
Both cited increasing barriers to doing business in China.
Foreign tech companies have long taken a tough stand in China, forcing them to comply with strict local laws and government censorship of content.
Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010, rejecting Beijing’s requirement to censor search results.
Reports in 2018 of plans by Google executives to reopen a site in China sparked a backlash from rights groups and Google employees, who warned that a censored search engine would set a “dangerous precedent”.