Fortnite in China has been in limbo since its soft launch in 2018. All video games and foreign media in China are subject to government approval. This is a means for the Chinese authorities to exert control over the flow of information into the Asian nation. This has seen many films, games and online services taking years to launch in China. Fortnite in China is just the latest casualty.
Fortnite China originally launched in April 2018 during Season 5, allowing Chinese players to install and legally play the battle royale shooter. The game never got full approval though, so in-app purchases and various game modes were disabled. This is because of a quirk of Chinese business law that requires a company in-country to handle monetization and administration of any foreign businesses. The reasons for this are too complex to go into here, but suffice to say, Fornite never got that far.
Various forms of censorship are applied to the games in China as well, such as the removal of skeletons and skulls to comply with cultural expectations.
The news comes as the Chinese government clamps down on foreign firms and investments in a few different ways. The big crypto crackdown over the past year shows that the Chinese government wasn’t playing around. And it would seem that formal pressure is ramping up in other areas. Epic likely pulled the plug on Fortnite in China after they got notified that the game would never be approved. And without a way to monetize, Epic was unlikely to keep pouring money into the title.
A big part of this shift might be the other ongoing crackdown on gaming for children in China. There’s a notable moral panic sweeping through the Chinese government over gaming addiction, and it’s been building for some time. Some fear more sweeping regulations could be incoming.
Since Fortnite China is shutting down this month, it’s no longer possible to create new accounts after today, November 1. The game shuts down fully on November 15.