For roughly 36 hours, players who logged into Fortnite, the wildly popular online battle royal video game, were greeted by a black hole that shut down the game itself. But on Tuesday morning, it returned as Fortnite Chapter 2, giving its fans a new map and tweaking how they play the game.
The black hole marked the end of Fortnite's first chapter, which was split into 10 distinct seasons. The two-year storyline came to an end Sunday, as rockets caused a virtual black hole that sucked in the game's map and screens — along with players and the trademark Battle Bus.
I guess they called it "The End" for a reason. pic.twitter.com/WVFoyqvaYr— DrLupo (@DrLupo) October 13, 2019
On YouTube and Twitch, more than 5.5 million people watched the destruction of Fortnite's map, titled "The End" by its developers at Epic Games. And that number reflects just the people who watched via video stream. Millions more logged in to Fortnite servers to watch the event unfold themselves from within the game.
Afterward, the game's official Twitter changed its avatar and cover photo to showcase the dark abyss that stared back at players. The graphics were changed back following the new chapter's reveal, to show new island terrain and features — such as a "bandage bazooka" to heal injured characters.
Fortnite's "The End" was the latest high-profile live event in the game that has turned such interludes into a popular feature. In February, EDM artist Marshmello held a live, virtual concert on Fortnite servers throughout the world. Since the concert, the official video of the event has been viewed more than 43 million times.
Fortnite, which launched in 2017, is one of the most popular video games in the world, boasting over 250 million registered players. While it holds a stereotype of being a "kids' game," several celebrities have acknowledged playing the game, from rapper Drake to Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard to Roseanne Barr.
I have 20 fortnite victory royale wins— Roseanne Barr (@therealroseanne) February 27, 2018
The game is also a powerful presence in the esports arena. Earlier this year, the first-ever Fortnite World Cup kicked off in New York. The winner, 16-year-old Kyle Giersdorf, took home $3 million.
Fortnite and another Tencent-backed video game, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, have popularized the battle royal video game genre in recent years, prompting other developers to launch titles such as Electronic Art's Apex Legends and Nintendo's Tetris 99.
Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR's News Desk.