In a tweet posted earlier today, developer Epic Games, the studio responsible for Fortnite, teased what may be a Chinese release of the enormously popular battle royale title.
The tweet posted by Epic Games included an image of the Fortnite character Jonesy’s passport, stamped with a Chinese passport stamp dated April 23rd, and accompanied by the text:
The Battle Bus is taking off! Destination, China.
While the most likely interpretation of the tweet is that the game will release in China on April 23rd, some players have suggested that the tweet could simply be teasing a new Chinese-themed map. The latter theory contradicts recent statements by Eric Williamson, Fortnite’s lead designer, who said that the development team were not planning any new maps for the time being.
The Battle Bus is taking off!
Destination, China. pic.twitter.com/UTGHx86RRA
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) April 20, 2018
China is currently the largest market for video games in the world, and since the Chinese government relaxed rules concerning foreign games, Western developers have aimed to market their titles in the country. If Epic Games is planning to release Fortnite in China, it is likely that the developer will partner with a local Chinese company to handle localization. The most likely candidate would be Tencent, a Chinese investment conglomerate that already owns 40% of Epic Games and also handles localization for battle royale title PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in China.
Fortnite would face significant challenges if the game were to launch in China, however. The country’s video game market is unfortunately plagued by cheat makers, hackers, and clone titles. Although Tencent has cooperated with Chinese law enforcement to arrest cheat makers in the country in the past, the issue remains a serious problem.
Launching in China may also bring Epic Games into conflict with Chinese developer NetEase, the company responsible for FortCraft, a battle royale game for mobile devices which bears a suspicious level of resemblance to Fortnite. The PUBG Corporation recently filed a lawsuit against NetEase over their games Rules of Survival and Knives Out, both of which appear to be clear clones of PUBG. Epic Games appears to have tolerated FortCraft so far, but once the company is competing directly in the same market, the developer may be less willing to allow NetEase to profit from such a clone game.
Whether the announcement proves to be a Chinese release for Fortnite or not, the battle royale title seems likely to enjoy continued success. The daily revenue generated by the mobile version of the game alone recently rose to $1.8 million, once the game became openly available.
Fortnite is available in early access on Xbox One, PS4, PC, and iOS.