Alaa “DvLZStaTioN” Ebrahim has been missing his sniper shots. The popular Fortnite YouTuber, who has three million subscribers, says it’s not his fault. Nor are the times when his opponents’ shots hit him even as he moves away from the rain of bullets. Ebrahim, who lives in Bahrain, a small island country in the Middle East, thinks an unfair hand has been dealt to him and the millions of other Fortnite fans in the region.
“If you are far away from the server, you will have some sort of delay in your game so pro players which are closer to the servers will have an advantage over us,” Ebrahim told Kotaku via email today. “That is why we need a server to match with people who has the same ping as us.”
Today he published a video titled simply “#FortniteMiddleEastServers,” a hashtag that has appeared in nearly 3.5 million tweets, demanding local servers for more competitive play.
Top Middle Eastern Fortnite players and personalities have been planning for a few days to launch a coordinated protest against Fortnite’s lack of Middle Eastern servers today on Twitter, YouTube and other social media. Fortnite does not currently have a specific server servicing the Middle East, which players argue has unfairly impacted their ability to play the world’s most popular game the same level as their international peers. In August, Epic Games wrote in a blog post that it was investigating the possibility of adding data centers to the Middle East. Five months later, Middle Eastern players say they haven’t seen any improvement.
“We are Fortnite players from the Middle East, we have been playing the game for a long time and we are big fans,” reads an uncredited message that many people are sharing alongside the #FortniteMiddleEastServers hashtag on Twitter. “However, We are facing a big struggle with PING which lead us in having bad experience in playing the game. We need a server in our region ASAP Please!”
Ebrahim says it’s immensely challenging to compete with pros who have 0 to 50 ping. Sometimes, he says, “When someone is building a ramp in front of you and you build at the same time, guess what? If he has a better ping his ramp will be built first.” Zeyad Khalid, who runs a popular Arabic Fortnite fan account on Twitter, told Kotaku that his ping often reaches over 150, sometimes 200, which makes it “impossible to do anything.”
Over Twitter this afternoon, Epic Games responded to Middle Eastern players’ complaints. “We work with multiple cloud providers to supply the infrastructure for Fortnite servers globally,” a representative wrote. “None of these providers yet have capacity available in the Middle East region, but we expect to have a solution in the next few months.” Fortnite uses Amazon Web Services, according to an August Wired report. In 2017, Amazon announced that it would be launching AWS in the Middle East early this year.