Epic Games, Inc. will be ending its attempt to entirely launch its video game, Fortnite, in China, shutting down the game’s servers in the country on Monday.
As reported by Bloomberg, 10 million gamers in China had pre-registered for the video game at one point, but the company spent three years pushing to fully release the game in the country without final success.
The reason for the removal of the game is unknown, but censorship in China is likely a main contender.
“New video games need government approvals to premiere and sell copies or virtual items in China, and the licensing process is increasingly stringent and often unpredictable. This year has been particularly difficult—the government hasn’t authorized a new gaming release in more than 100 days,” the outlet noted.
According to Channel News Asia, two weeks ago, Epic announced it would be closing down the Chinese type of the game, stating that “Fortnite China’s Beta test has reached an end” and that servers would be shut down.
Players in China confirmed they weren’t able to play the game on Monday, with their sentiments showing up on social media site Weibo. “A discussion board on the game had been viewed 470 million times,” CNA noted.
The move comes after companies have attempted to be permitted in the Chinese market, even as the country does more to restrict content.
In September, hundreds of Chinese video game makers including Tencent vowed to better police their products for “politically harmful” content and enforce curbs on underage players, as they looked to fall into line with government demands.
Bloomberg noted that there was visible harm to Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent, which was reportedly an investor in Epic and the local publisher for Fortnite.
“…[Tencent] reported earnings on Nov. 10,” the outlet noted, adding, “Overall revenue increased 13% for the quarter, its slowest growth rate since the company went public in 2004. Gaming revenue within China grew 5%, compared with 20% growth internationally. Executives told investors they thought the disruptions would be temporary and said they have a large stockpile of new titles prepared for release once the regulatory uncertainties ease. A company spokesperson declined to comment further.”
Microsoft and Yahoo made similar moves to leave the country this year.
“Microsoft is shutting down its social network, LinkedIn, in China, saying having to comply with the Chinese state has become increasingly challenging,” the BBC reported in October.
In November, Yahoo left China as well.
“In recognition of the increasingly challenging business and legal environment in China, Yahoo’s suite of services will no longer be accessible from mainland China as of November 1,” the company said in a statement at the time, noting it “remains committed to the rights of our users and a free and open internet.”
Earlier this year, China pushed a new law attempting to limit the amount of time young people play video games in the nation, an initiative that was set to go into effect by the first of September.
As reported by The Washington Post in August, China announced “that minors can only play video games for an hour on Fridays, weekends and holidays, and are banned from playing during the school week. The new rule comes from China’s video game regulator, the National Press and Publication Administration, which did not respond to requests for comment.”
Its censorship has also become tighter. “China will prohibit non-masculine men from appearing on TV, according to a new regulation,” The Daily Wire reported in September.
“Broadcasters must ‘resolutely put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,’ the TV regulator said,” reports The Associated Press. The regulations were reportedly created to “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.”
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