NetEase gets the jump on Fortnite and Tencent as FortCraft is approved for China launch

95 games receive licence for release

NetEase gets the jump on Fortnite and Tencent as FortCraft is approved for China launch

Chinese publisher NetEase has bagged a big win over rival Tencent by obtaining a license to launch its battle royale Fortnite clone FortCraft on mobile.

The title was revealed early last year with a beta rolling out on iOS and Android. It appears though that title’s full launch was delayed by China’s nine-month long licensing freeze, which only ended in December 2018.

The game has now been approved however as part of the latest batch of 95 games to receive licenses. The Chinese regulator is currently working its way through a backlog of thousands of titles and has blocked further new game submissions for the timebeing.

It means FortCraft can now come to the market ahead of Epic’s Fortnite on mobile, to be published by Tencent, and also comes before Tencent has obtained the rights to monetise Fortnite on PC and its PUBG Mobile games.

What is FortCraft?

FortCraft was previously described as a “free-to-play crafting survival battle royale” title for mobile. As is typical with the genre, 100 players are let loose on the map, with only one winner.

Much like Fortnite, players can create their own structures. The art style is very similar to Epic’s game and is unlike the more realistic graphics of NetEase’s other battle royale titles Rules of Survival and Knives Out.

"We have built FortCraft to provide the essential Sandbox multiplayer survival game experience for mobile," read a statement from NetEase during last year’s game announcement.

“Players will be dropped into a 4x4 km map that has an amusement park theme. Players must survive a 100 player battle to claim the glory of last one standing.”

Why does it matter?

The success of Knives Out in particular is proof of why getting early to market, even with what could be considered a clone, is good for business.

The title is estimated to have pulled in at least $465 million in 2018, much of that from Japan. NetEase managed to beat PUBG to smart devices around the world and was then able to monetise in China.

NetEase’s rush to market wasn’t without some consequences however. It was sued by PUBG Corp in early 2018 after the South Korean developer claimed Rules of Survival and Knives Out were PUBG clones.

NetEase vice president Ken Li will be a speaker at Pocket Gamer Connects Seattle 2019, which takes place on May 13th to 14th.

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Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.