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‘Fortnite’ blackout was an incredible flex by Epic Games

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Epic continues to push the limits on what a video game is capable of doing.

POLAND-ESPORT-GAMING-IT-ENTERTAINMENT Photo credit should read BARTOSZ SIEDLIK/AFP/Getty Images

Fortnite fanatics around the world united Sunday in anticipation of an event set to transition the game from its 10th season to “Chapter 2,” according to images leaked from the Italian iOS App Store two days before. They got what they came for in terms of a big event, though no one expected the entire Fortnite world to be sucked into a black hole in the process.

Instead of a new beginning, the game disappeared Sunday afternoon, leaving everyone in the dark until 4 a.m. ET Tuesday. What was actually a massive Fortnite upgrade (and resulting downtime) was spun as part of a storyline, sparking every emotion in the book for its loyal fans and heightening anticipation for what was to come. It’s clear Epic Games — the creators behind Fortnite — are also marketing masterminds.

Fortnite has always been good at keeping things fresh and stunning players with events, but this was on a level not seen before. You couldn’t even play the game and people were still streaming it for millions of viewers. For that to be the result of what could have cost Epic Games millions of dollars in downtime is brilliant because now they’re very likely going to make up for it in Chapter 2.

And Epic didn’t didn’t just play along — they refused to break character. This led to many younger players thinking Fortnite was just wiped off the face of the Earth, which, in fairness to the kids, would actually be a tragedy. Parents posted pictures and videos of children crying or punching their TVs because, to them, this was the equivalent of somebody snapping their gaming console or PC in half with no solution ahead. Not only did Epic leave Fortnite in darkness, but they also deleted all tweets from Fortnite’s official account, maintaining their silence and building a frenzy discussed far and wide in gaming circles and beyond.

They didn’t return to Twitter until 6:35 a.m. ET Tuesday after the update went live.

The blackout also ended up serving as a hard reset for Fortnite fans who were frustrated with the game long before the update. Even the most devout gamers would agree the game had a bit of a drop-off since the start of season 10. Many were frustrated (even raging, at times) with the mechs put into the game, which became nearly impossible to play against with most forms of mobility removed from the game, as well.

It made a lot of top streamers pivot to other games including World of Warcraft, Minecraft and Apex Legends. Understandably, some gamers felt like Fortnite was dying and considered completely jumping ship as a result.

This morning, however, many of those same streamers were back and ready for the debut of Chapter 2, playing in the early morning hours.

This isn’t the only time Fortnite fans have had to deal with unexpected circumstances, though they usually come in the form of live in-game events, as listed by our friends over at The Verge:

There was the arrival of a mysterious cube, which slowly rolled across the island before disappearing into a lake. This somehow led to players being temporarily transported to a different dimension. There have been erupting volcanos, massive snowstorms, devastating earthquakes, and floating alien runes.

But the blackout took things to another level. It struck us with crippling anticipation, an anticipation you couldn’t control. I and many others knew pretty quickly that we weren’t going to see the game for at least a couple of days, and yet we still sat and stared at nothing, consuming every leak and possible theory we could get for more hours than we’d like to admit.

Epic masked an extended downtime with their best marketing ploy ever, and if that’s not just the greatest flex by a video game company, I don’t know what is.