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Apex Legends differs from PUBG and Fortnite by having characters with special abilities -- a little like Overwatch. (Picture: EA)

Apex Legends might be coming to China

EA's hit battle royale game is topping Fortnite and PUBG on Twitch, and now Tencent is reportedly trying to bring it to China

Video gaming
This article originally appeared on ABACUS

In just two weeks, Apex Legends has become the hottest game in the world. Now it might be heading to the world's biggest gaming market.

Tencent is reportedly in talks with Electronic Arts to bring the hit battle royale game to China, according to the South China Morning Post.

How Fortnite and PUBG made battle royale the hottest trend in gaming

It would complete a remarkable trio for Tencent, which already has the rights to Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) in China, not to mention the global rights to publish PUBG Mobile.

But even though it's far younger than those two titans, Apex Legends has proven to be something special. While most games get months (if not years) of hype and promotion, this game was released on the same day it was publicly unveiled.

Apex Legends differs from PUBG and Fortnite by having characters with special abilities -- a little like Overwatch. (Picture: EA)
The surprise release worked. Within a week, Apex Legends had two million peak concurrent players -- a figure that took Fortnite 16 weeks to achieve, according to Daniel Ahmad of Niko Partners. Within two weeks, 25 million players signed up for the free-to-play game. And it consistently tops the "most-watched" charts on Twitch.
We played Apex Legends on Twitch last week, and found it to be one of the most satisfying games of its genre. Unlike Fortnite and PUBG, this is primarily a team-based game, with players broken up into squads of three unique characters, each with their own special powers.

We also noticed plenty of Chinese players in our matches -- or at least, plenty of players who spoke Chinese. It's impossible to know whether they were inside the country or not, but gamers in China often find ways to get their hands on titles that haven't officially been released there yet.
It shouldn't be a surprise, because the country's gamers are crazy about battle royale. Within months of PUBG's initial release on PC, NetEase, Tencent and even Xiaomi released clones for smartphones. After gaining the official license, Tencent released two separate versions of PUBG Mobile just for China. And the craze has also spawned some original concepts, like Ring of Elysium, which sets the action on a snowy mountain resort, and Swordsman X, which merges battle royale with Chinese martial arts.

PUBG, the battle royale pioneer

But they might not be so crazy about Tencent getting their hands on Apex Legends. When games are officially brought to China, they're often censored, erasing everything from blood to, er, skeletons. Gamers often take to Weibo to complain about those changes, as well as the length of time it takes to get a game censored and officially approved.

One top comment on Weibo sums it up: "Every game that Tencent touches goes bad. Rainbow Six Siege was pulled. We've waited a year for PUBG PC. Leave me alone."

For more insights into China tech, sign up for our tech newsletters, subscribe to our Inside China Tech podcast, and download the comprehensive 2019 China Internet Report. Also roam China Tech City, an award-winning interactive digital map at our sister site Abacus.