Last night, the most popular video game in the world blew up and collapsed into a single black hole. Digitally, of course. The massive PR stunt pulled by Epic Games, the company that owns Fortnite, was planned in anticipation of an unannounced relaunch.
Called “The End,” the event started with a rocket launch, which escalated until the entire game map — the “Battle Royale Island” — shrank into a distant black hole. Millions of Fortnite players tuned in to witness the event, which marked the end of Fortnite’s Season 10. The Fortnite server has been live-streaming just the rotating black hole for over 24 hours now, making it look like the game never existed.
Players can’t access any of the game’s features — but most of them believe it’s nowhere near gone for good. Most online users predict that this is a publicity stunt for Fortnite’s next season, which will likely include a completely new game map and many new features.
It wouldn’t make sense for Epic Games to shut down Fortnite — it’s the most popular video game on the planet, with more than 250 million registered accounts. Last year, The Verge reported that the game was making $300 million per month. Likewise, it’s one of the biggest esport games, awarding $100 million in prize cash for its 2019 winners.
Most games carry out big updates in a matter of hours, so die-hard players can get back into the action as soon as possible. But Epic Games knows that Fortnite is so popular, even the most committed fans will wait as long as it takes. Some Fortnite fans claim this stunt is purposeful to make them miss the game, and draw in new and old players for the upcoming changes.
A change would be especially appealing to new players, as it levels the playing field. The 2-year-old Fortnite map heavily favored veterans, who invested time into learning the “Island” inside and out. They knew every mountain, building, and secret hideout, making it much easier to beat out rookie players. A fresh start could switch up the game’s rankings, and even affect next year’s worldwide Fortnite tournament.
So what exactly went down in this dramatic online event? The clock counted down as usual. When it hit zero, a rocket launched into the air, entering a portal in the sky, and exiting a different one. But more rockets began to appear, coming out of more and more portals. They zipped around for a while until they came to a suspended meteor, creating a giant portal that swallowed the meteor.
Suddenly, the meteor flew out, surrounded by rockets, which split up and started crashing into different points on the map. The meteor hit the central forcefield at a location called “Loot Lake,” which catapulted everything off the map.
The whole mess was suspended in time for a moment, then was sucked into a single vortex. Slowly, a black hole began to appear on the dark screen, swirling amidst dramatic music.
You can exit this screen, but there’s nowhere else to go. All of Fortnite’s social media accounts have switched to black, too. For now, the game is dead and gone — but all signs point to it coming back soon.