Saturday, May 25, 2024

Isobel Bushell, 19, knew Fortnite’s Big Bang event was going to be popular. The live event, hosted Saturday by Epic Games, promised to introduce new experiences for the beloved battle video game and to feature a musical performance by the rapper Eminem.

Ms. Bushell, an office administrator who lives in East Sussex, England, logged on 30 minutes early, as advised by Epic Games, to make sure she’d wouldn’t have any issues watching the show. It didn’t matter.

“I got hit straight away with a one-hour queue,” Ms. Bushell said. “So already I was going to miss the initial launch of the event.” On X, Fortnite’s official account announced it would offer more showings for people, like Ms. Bushell, who were unable to watch the event live. She decided to wait in line, but by the time she got to the front, Ms. Bushell was forced to restart the game and got bumped to the back of the line for another wait — of two hours.

“It’s really frustrating how Epic Games just, you know — they knew the capacity that they would need and how popular the game has become, how anticipated this event would be,” Ms. Bushell said.

“We’re still working to recover from the overwhelming attendance from the first event showtime,” Fortnite tweeted on Saturday from its status account for service updates.

On social media, many fans reported similar issues, voicing displeasure that they were unable to watch in real time. Jim Jones, 45, and his family planned to view the event together. He and his wife are fans of Eminem, while their 10-year-old son, Maverick, is the Fortnite player in the family and the one who informed them about the Big Bang. They also got stuck waiting in the queue and missed the live event.

“Once something’s done, it’s just kind of sad to see a replay,” Mr. Jones, who lives in Lincoln, Neb., said. “The idea of premiering a new game with such a huge artist, Eminem, was really exciting to us.” As a software engineer, he said, he was sympathetic to Epic’s technical struggles on Saturday but would have preferred the communal experience of watching the Big Bang live with other fans in real time.

Not everyone was locked out; some people did make it through and were able to watch the 11-minute event live. (You can now watch the whole thing on Fortnite’s YouTube channel.) Those fans were treated to a brief Eminem performance, including part of his classic song “Lose Yourself.” (Viewers could play along with a Guitar Hero-style game, as a Fortnite character version of Eminem — complete with short, bleached blonde hair — rapped on a digital stage.)

Partway through the song, a giant version of Eminem, styled like a fire-breathing monster, appeared, stomping around an animated city while performing part of another song, “Godzilla.” The performance lasted about three minutes. On social media, some viewers complained that the musical portion of the event was too short.

Eminem is not the first musician to perform a virtual concert like this one. In 2020, a Lil Nas X concert, hosted by the popular children’s gaming platform Roblox, was viewed 33 million times across four performances. Fortnite has also previously hosted performances by artists including Travis Scott and Ariana Grande.

Ms. Bushell, the Fortnite fan from England, eventually had to give up and go to bed. (Epic Games played its final replay at 11 p.m. E.S.T. on Saturday night.) She would watch a replay of the stream elsewhere in the morning, she said.

“I’ve been waiting a long time,” Ms. Bushell said. “I can’t really wait any longer.”

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