Epic Games reboots Fortnite to battle rivals

NEW YORK • A new war has started, with Epic Games launching a Chapter 2 reboot of its battle royale smash hit Fortnite on Tuesday, as it bids to halt defections to rivals Apex Legends and Call Of Duty.

Fortnite has been down since Sunday, giving players no option other than staring at a black screen after a season-ending in-game event where its original island was sucked into a black hole.

The new version features 13 new locations, water gameplay where characters can swim, fish and ride motorboats, as well as new avatars and guns.

The changes, hashtagged #FirstDrop, were received well by gamers, with "Fortnite is back" trending on Twitter. Nearly 80,000 tuned in to watch the new game being played live by gamer Turner "Tfue" Tenney on streaming platform Twitch, less than two hours after its launch.

Fortnite and its early rival, Tencent-backed PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, popularised an arena-style survival concept where 100 gamers are dropped onto an island to fight one another to the death.

The games are free to download and play, but users pay for upgrades, like the "skins" displayed on characters.

Fortnite earned US$2.4 billion (S$3.3 billion) in revenue last year, more than any other single title, according to Nielsen data.

The runaway successes of the games prompted Electronic Arts to launch its similarly themed Apex Legends earlier this year and competition continues to mount.

The mobile version of Activision's long-running Call Of Duty franchise launched on Oct 1 and has already seen 125 million unique downloads and more than US$28 million in gross player spending, according to data website SensorTower.

Spending on Fortnite has fallen 23 per cent since the launch of Call Of Duty, the data also showed.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2019, with the headline 'Epic Games reboots Fortnite to battle rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe