Fortnite players in China had a very different experience with the game than their Western counterparts. They couldn’t buy the in-game V Bucks currency, and challenges are only available for three hours a day in order to discourage more lengthy gaming sessions. But that all changes on Nov. 15, because Fortnite China’s servers are shutting down.
“The test of ‘Fortress Night’ has come to an end. We will shut down the server in the near future,” reads a brief statement on game’s site. New players will be cut off from signing up for Fortnite, which is called Fortress Night in China, on Nov. 1. On Nov. 15, the server will be shut down.
“Thank you for everyone who boarded the bus and participated in the ‘Fortnite’ test!”
Fortnite China’s closure comes. In the past year, Chinese authorities have fined its tech titans billions of dollars, declared cryptocurrency services illegal and signed sweeping new data privacy rules into place. Video games have been hit hard. Children are restricted from playing more than three hours a week, with state media calling video games “spiritual opium.”
The reasons for the game’s Chinese version being scrapped are unclear. Epic Games has been contacted for comment, but didn’t immediately respond. Fortnite launched in China in 2018, in a partnership between developer Epic Games and Chinese tech giant Tencent.
Even before the crackdown, Epic had to significantly alter Fortnite in order for it to be available to Chinese gamers. Following Chinese cultural norms, for instance, all skulls have been removed from the game. There’s also a major change to the gameplay: In the standard version, it’s last-person-standing wins. In China, all surviving players “win” after 20 minutes. Perhaps more conspicuous is the message players get if they play for more than 180 minutes in a day:
“You have been playing for 3 hours, exp rate has dropped 50%, challenges disabled, for your health please take a rest immediately, please also arrange your studies/learning time.”