“Fortnite’s” Battle Bus is on its way to China, according to a teaser image posted by developer Epic Games Friday on Twitter. The tweet includes a photo of a passport with the date 4/23/18 stamped inside, which means the popular battle royale game could launch in the country in three days.
This is a big deal for “Fortnite” and Epic Games. China is the world’s largest mobile app market, according to data firm App Annie. Chinese smartphone users spent well over 200 billion hours in apps across multiple platforms last year. App Annie also estimates that $1 out of every $4 made from app stores, in-app advertising, and mobile commerce is generated by the Chinese market.
App Annie said the majority of China’s most-used apps are published by Chinese companies. If Epic is bringing “Fortnite” there, it will probably go through publisher Tencent, who happens to own 40% of Epic.
Epic Games released the mobile version of “Fortnite” to the general public just over a month ago after a brief invite-only testing period. It features the same 100-player gameplay, map, and content as its PC and console cousins. It also gets the same weekly updates.
“Fortnite” on mobile reportedly pulled in over $1 million in its first 72 hours and grossed more than $25 million in the first month, quickly out-earning older, more established apps like Pandora, YouTube, and Hulu. Intelligence firm Sensor Tower believes the game could bring in more than $500 million its first year once it launches on Google Play. Add the Chinese market to that figure and it looks like Epic will have one heck of a hootenanny in 2018.
Of course, there’s no word yet on what version of “Fortnite” could be heading to China. It could be on mobile, PC, or consoles. Or maybe even all three. But not bringing “Fortnite” on mobile to China feels like leaving money on the table.