Fortnite and Yahoo shut down in China due to restrictions

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US search engine Yahoo and popular survival game Fortnite have announced that they are ending their activities in China due to strict government restrictions and rules on the digital sector.

The decisions come just under a month after Microsoft shut down its LinkedIn social network operations in the country for the same reasons.

Beijing has imposed stringent regulations on various industries as part of an effort to increase its control over the economy, with technology companies being the hardest hit.

In the case of US tech giant Epic Games, the announcement of Fortnite’s withdrawal from China comes months after authorities placed restrictions on the world’s biggest market for digital games.

In September, authorities said they intended to curb China’s gambling addiction by reducing the time children and teenagers are allowed to spend playing online and ordered players to use an identity card when registering.

The move dealt a heavy blow to companies’ ability to make a profit in the country and sent their share prices plummeting.

In response, Epic announced that it will end the extremely popular game on November 15th.

“Fortnite China’s beta test has come to an end and the servers will be shut down,” the company said in a statement.

“We’re going to shut down the game servers and players won’t be able to connect,” he added.

The move ended a test of the version of Fortnite created specifically for the Chinese market, where content is monitored to prevent excessive violence.

Fortnite is a participatory game in which users interact online in a hostile environment. Although they act in a group, the objective is to be the last survivor.

Launched in 2017, Fortnite has quickly become a global phenomenon, with some matches being watched live by millions.

The download is free, but it generates billions of dollars in revenue from purchases of extra elements for characters. It is one of the most popular games in the world, with more than 350 million users, more than the population of the United States.

In China, Epic has released a version specifically for the Chinese market with tight control over violent, obscene or politically sensitive elements.

Since Monday (1), this version no longer accepts new players, said the company, which has among its shareholders the Chinese digital giant Tencent.

Even the shares of the Chinese consortium Tencent fell on the Hong Kong stock exchange on Tuesday (2).

Many Chinese players lamented on the internet the announcement of the closure of Fortnite in the country.

“We didn’t expect this,” said a young woman on the Weibo social network, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “I cry with all the tears in my body. I play with my boyfriend and I was dying to see what would happen,” he added.

Others expressed irritation at the loss of evolution of their characters, to which they had devoted many hours of gameplay, and asked Epic Games to allow their data to be transferred to servers abroad.

Yahoo

Yahoo announced that it left China since this Monday (1). The company launched its search service in the country in 1999, betting on the growth of a large emerging market when the Internet was still in its infancy in China.

The Asian giant is now one of the most connected countries in the world with particularly dynamic and innovative local companies.

Questioned by AFP, Yahoo justified the decision citing “the increasingly difficult business and legal environment in China”.

Yahoo has drastically reduced its presence in China since closing its messaging service in 2013.

The American company is the latest in a list of international groups to leave the Chinese market.

In the name of “stability”, Chinese authorities remove politically sensitive topics from the network and demand Internet giants to block unwanted content.

Refusing to comply with Beijing’s demands, the American social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, the participatory encyclopedia Wikipedia, as well as various foreign media, are completely blocked in China by a “great computer wall” erected by the regime’s censors .

Microsoft, owner of LinkeDin –now officially abroad–, was one of the few American companies to manage to operate a social network in China, despite the censorship. In 2014, Microsoft was also the first foreign company to enter the huge Chinese video game market with its Xbox One.

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