An ominous tweet from “Fortnite” – one of the world’s most popular video games – gathered gamers across the world to witness an Orwellian scene late Sunday morning. Luminescent aqua fissures spider-webbed the sky. Multiple rockets pummeled the island, and the players’ avatars were propelled up for a bird’s-eye view of the chaos. A final explosion sucked everyone and everything into a black hole.
Then, nothing. An ethereal blue ring is all that remains since the 11 a.m. Sunday apocalypse. Initial reaction for Devin Kimmerly, of Spokane, was complete shock. He tended to his screen for two to three hours waiting for a new world to materialize.
“Oh my goodness, I was so surprised,” Kimmerly said. “Everyone thought a whole new map was going to pop up. No one expected it.”
Kimmerly has been playing “Fortnite” – which allows for competitive battles as well as creative play – since its inception. “Fortnite” is played by 250 million people worldwide and is available on all gaming systems, which Kimmerly said brings gamers together. Another bonus? “Fortnite” is free. Epic Games, which owns “Fortnite,” makes its money through ingame purchases. Last year, “Fortnite” generated revenues of $2 billion.
Kimmerly considers his usage, at three hours a day, casual.
“I want to do the competitions, I just frankly don’t have the time,” Kimmerly said.
Frank Kelley, chief operating officer for Orange County, California-based Esports Arena, said this was a smart publicity stunt to garner hype for Chapter 2. Esports Arena hosts gaming competitions across the country. After 10 seasons of Chapter 1, “Fortnite” announced it would be launching its next chapter, but Kelley never expected this would be how they would do it.
“They didn’t tell anyone, nor should they,” he said.. “It’s a marketing thing and I think it’s a good way to do it. It’s kind of the Wild West in video games right now, everyone’s trying new things.”
Esports Arena hosts weekly Friday Night Fortnite competitions across the country, including inside the Spokane Valley Walmart. An average of 75 people attend the tournament in the Valley, Kelley said. To play, gamers pay $15, with the possibility of winning $100.
Kelley said the “Fortnite” black hole hasn’t thrown a wrench in Esports’ business, but he’s sure others are affected.
“We’re at their mercy,” Kelley said. “It’s just the way that it goes. Luckily yesterday was fighting games, so it was easier that we weren’t have to deal with anything ‘Fortnite’-related.”
Kelley suggested the players – and those who love them – were probably more affected.
“I think it will make a lot of parents happy,” Kelley said, laughing. “And a lot of wives happy that right after football, no one can play for the whole day. It’s going to ruin a lot of people’s tournaments, but that’s the way it goes.”
Kelley wasn’t informed when he can expect the game to return with Chapter 2, but he suspects Tuesday. Tyler “Ninja” Blevins – one of the most-followed gamers who livestreams himself playing on Twitch, a streaming service popularly used by gamers – tweeted “Here is your hint, and I’m not joking” along with a video in which he whispers “tacos.”
Gamers believe this might be a reference to Taco Tuesday, the unofficial name for the custom of eating tacos on Tuesday. Kimmerly said he is excited for Chapter 2, and he has a couple of items on his wish list, including a whole new map and weapons and maybe even game modes.
“We’ve never seen anything like this before, but God, if I had the opportunity, you never know what I would do to make a decision to roll out something like that,” Kelley said.
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