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Image credit: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Epic removed police cars from 'Fortnite'

Epic is reportedly being sensitive to current events.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
June 21, 2020
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LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 16: Visitors play video games in Moche XL Games World event at Altice Arena on November 16, 2019 in Lisbon, Portugal. Moche XL Games World consists of several experimentation areas: PlayStation, Nintendo, Asus, Indie X, Future World Auditorium, Upload, Globaldata, ESC Online, Alpha Gamer, The TV Ball, FM City, PC Say, Moche, Monster, Worten, Lenovo, Coca Cola, Cigala, For The Win Esports, FPF Esports, Fortnite World, with over 100 posts available, Fepodele, Master League Portugal, Board Games, Game Room (a space with more than 100 posts retro, pinball, among others), VR World (virtual reality space), Cosplay, Theme Stores and Corner Youbattle (with Youtubers and Streamers). (Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Horacio Villalobos/Corbis via Getty Images

Epic Games is apparently trying to navigate some difficult cultural waters. Gamers report that Epic has removed all police cars from Fortnite as of the shooter’s latest update, and the Wall Street Journal understands that it was in response to Black Lives Matter protests over police violence. The developer wasn’t trying to make a “political statement,” according to a WSJ source — rather, it was trying to be “sensitive about the issues” players are dealing with.

We’ve asked Epic for comment.

The broader game industry has endorsed the Black Lives Matter cause, including a message in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and temporary shutdowns of GTA Online and Red Dead Online. Epic appears to be taking a milder approach with Fortnite, acknowledging the outrage without explicitly advocating for a cause. The company previously stressed that it wouldn’t ban players for political speech.

This is also the latest example of the challenges game studios face when addressing politics. While games frequently include political commentary either in their content or from their players, companies are often hesitant to support any one position lest they alienate potential buyers or even entire countries. Ubisoft, for instance, maintained that The Division 2 was apolitical despite conspicuous themes. Epic may be in a similarly difficult position — it has a lot of players and revenue to lose if it sparks an uproar, regardless of which side it takes.

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