Fortnite's biggest event went unnoticed in China
The End attracted more than 6 million viewers around the world, but Chinese gamers stuck to PUBG Mobile
More than 6 million people tuned in on YouTube and Twitch to simultaneously watch a video game delete itself on Sunday. That was The End, the event that concluded Fortnite Season 10.
When the entire world of Fortnite collapsed into a black hole, many people took to Twitter to wonder publicly when they’ll be able to play the game again instead of staring into the abyss on their screen.
But in China, the end of Fortnite -- arguably the most watched gaming event ever -- made much less of a splash. That’s because the more cartoonish battle royale game hasn’t caught on in the country, where its official release doesn’t have government approval for monetization. Instead, Chinese gamers say they prefer realistic shooters like PUBG.
“The cartoony style really throws me off,” one gamer wrote online.
But it’s not just the art that’s keeping gamers away. In fact, some Chinese gamers still recognize the quality of the game.
“The style of gameplay, optimization, updates and activities are all the best in the industry,” a gamer commented on a Chinese gaming site. “But it just couldn’t catch on in our country.”
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for Fortnite is that China has a lot of competition when it comes to mobile shooters. PUBG Mobile, developed by China’s Tencent, was huge in the country even before it was overhauled into Game for Peace so that it could be monetized.
You might think players wouldn’t care so much about being forced to play a game for free, but being able to customize characters through in-game purchases is big business. And gamers in China love it.
Gamers often take pride in having fashionable in-game items out of pure vanity, so not having the option for Fortnite actually diminishes the appeal of the game. Even though Fortnite has managed to get a loyal niche following in China, the most dedicated gamers looking to purchase items must resort to VPNs to hop the Great Firewall and play on overseas servers. Only then can they top up their in-game wallets.
Some gamers in China also complain about the game’s signature feature: Building structures. While this unique gameplay function helped set Fortnite apart overseas, some suggest gamers in China don’t want to put in the time to learn how to utilize it effectively.
“Why [does Fortnite struggle in China]? Because there is a steep learning curve. And I am not so good with building structures,” one gamer said.
Even though Tencent released Fortnite just one month after releasing PUBG Mobile in China, Fortnite could never catch up in popularity. And with Epic Games inserting itself into a recent controversy over free speech, it seems there’s even less reason for China to grant Tencent monetization on the game unless it pulls another Game for Peace and just remakes the game for the country.
As it stands, though, Fortnite’s smaller but dedicated fan base in China seemed satisfied with The End. As with the rest of the Fortnite gaming community, they joined in to watch and appreciate the cinematic in-game event as it unfolded.
“The easter eggs in Fortnite are the least phony, the most surprising in all the games that I have played,” one gamer commented on an article about the event.