(Beijing) The game phenomenon Fortnite, which brings together millions of online followers around the world, is no longer accessible in China since Monday, at the deadline set by its American publisher.
Epic Games announced earlier this month that it would stop its version of Fornite in China, amid tightening regulations targeting the digital sector.
Video games, which represent a significant financial windfall in the country, but are criticized for their addictive side among young people, has not been spared.
In August, the authorities imposed a drastic limit of three hours of video games per week for those under 18, while some could spend days glued to their screens.
Fortnite has had a specific test version since 2018 in China where violent, obscene or politically sensitive content is strictly regulated.
Since the beginning of the month, the game has stopped accepting new players in China, said Epic Games, which has Chinese internet giant Tencent among its shareholders.
Stunned by the end of Fortnite in their country, Chinese players are struggling to hide their emotion on Monday.
“I don’t understand why it stopped so quickly,” a player named Ding told AFP.
“I’m going to cry,” reacted another follower, a certain Zheng, 24, explaining to AFP that he had played Fortnite for more than two years at the university.
Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world, with over 350 million users to its name – more than the population of the United States.
It is a participatory game in which players interact online in hostile environments. If they evolve as a group, each seeks to be the last to survive.
The subject totaled more than 470 million views on the social network Weibo on Monday afternoon.
Fortnite, which is free to download, generates billions in revenue with the purchase by players of additional items for their characters, including outfits.
Gambling has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon, to the point that certain games are now watched live by millions of spectators.
With this audience, Fortnite has opened up in recent months to collaborations with celebrities who appear occasionally in the game in the form of avatars.
Fortnite is the third big name in the tech world to leave China in the space of a month.
The Yahoo portal, a former Internet nugget in the 2000s, announced earlier this month that it was also ceasing its activities in China, due to an “increasingly difficult commercial and legal environment”.
” Mental Health “
Citing a “difficult environment”, the professional social network LinkedIn of Microsoft had also announced in October its upcoming withdrawal from the country.
The computer giant has long been one of the few US internet companies to successfully impose a social network in China despite censorship.
And in 2014, Microsoft was the first foreign firm to reinvest the huge Chinese video game market with its Xbox One console.
In 2000, Beijing had suspended the sale of all consoles because of their alleged negative effects on “the mental health” of young users. However, these remained readily available, but illegally.