Epic Games today announced that it is ending its efforts to bring Fortnite, the video game giant, to China.
In an official announcement, the company stated that the long-running Chinese shooter title test will end on November 15. No new users will be accepted beginning today.
Tencent, a Chinese internet company, has a stake in Epic Games. It also owns 100% of Riot Games. Riot Games is another American gaming company that has a global gaming success in its portfolio.
China's gaming industry has been under renewed regulatory scrutiny over the past months. The domestic government is working to limit gaming time among youths. Although the impact of the Chinese Communist Party's decision to reduce gaming hours among its younger population is still unclear, it could have rendered Fortnite uneconomical.
Epic has created a Fortnite version for China, which is a well-known variation of the game. A gamer-powered Wiki details the differences in gameplay and monetization, as well as different graphics for local laws. According to the same article, users can no longer earn ingame experience points after a certain time.
Fortnite China's decision to stop Fortnite could be seen as a response the country's changing gaming market. The math is not working because of the additional restrictions placed on gaming time and lower monetization opportunities due to microtransactions restrictions.
It is quite remarkable to see another American company withdraw its popular product from China's digital realm following the decision of LinkedIn the previous month. These two actions highlight how difficult it is for non-Chinese businesses to offer products within the country, even if there is a champion in their local area.
Other cultural content isn't faring as well. The country has not yet seen the latest Marvel film Eternals, possibly due to comments made by Chlo Zhao (born in Beijing) that were interpreted as being critical of the country.
China's isolation from international culture will be further exacerbated by its regulatory environment and decreased ability or interest to bring global movies and games to China. Perhaps, China's ability to gain soft power through its own cultural creations may be affected in the reverse.
Fortnites Chinese players will no longer be able to use tricks to bypass Chinese authorities.
Epic Games does not comment on the closure. The following statement was shared with Chinese players (translated into English below).