“Fortnite” publisher Epic Games removed police cars and SWAT vans from its massively popular online multiplayer game Sunday in response to national unrest and protests against law enforcement following the police killings of unarmed Black citizens George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The news was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, which cited an anonymous source inside Epic Games. “I wouldn’t say it’s a political statement,” the insider told the Journal. “I think it’s just us being sensitive about the issues many people in our audience are dealing with.”
Police cars in “Fortnite” were purely decorative — unlike many other video games, players couldn’t interact with them or drive them around. “Fortnite” operates a free-for-all open world where there are no penalties for actions, so police have no effect on gameplay.
Epic Games did not immediately return TheWrap’s request for comment.
Fans took to Reddit and Twitter both lamenting and praising the change. Conservative Minnesotan and Senate candidate Jason Lewis said, “The war on law enforcement is now focused on our children. Our kids shouldn’t be taught police are inherently bad & dangerous. This insanity must end. The majority understand we need police to maintain public safety. It’s time to speak up!”
Other fans of the game weren’t sure exactly why Epic made the change. Reddit user Sig56 noted, “I’m not upset because they can do whatever they want. But.. it’s stupid. Do people get triggered seeing police cars on fortnite? If so, what do they do when they see a real police car?”
Several other “Fortnite” players re-iterated the fact that the CGI cars weren’t even usable in the first place. “It doesn’t change the gameplay at all so why does it matter,” one player using the pseudonym TheBaconGuy 403 asked.
In some areas of the “Fortnite” map, players can build cover from incoming fire around existing cars, but that’s as far as Epic went in terms of allowing players to interact with the in-game vehicles.
Twitter user Damien joked that Epic could just replace the police cars with other, less threatening vehicles. “That’s why there’s a bunch of ice cream trucks on my fortnite map,” they said Monday.
Many video games have a police presence that is integral to the plot, such as Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto” series or the “Watch_Dogs” franchise from Ubisoft. For now, Epic Games is the only publisher to alter or remove their in-game police forces.
That’s why there’s a bunch of ice cream trucks on my fortnite map
— Damien – Fortnite + more (@Damienthepug1) June 22, 2020
@RockstarGames will GTA 6 have social workers that will turn up 3 days after a heist ?
— Boudoir Boris (@BoudoirBoris) June 22, 2020