fortnite-battle-royale
Epic Games

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Fortnite: Battle Royale is already a one of the most popular games around the globe. Now, with governments shutting down schools, entertainers canceling events and even Disneyland closing, the game appears to be getting even bigger.

As Italy’s population has begun staying home, shutting down stores, restaurants and schools in an effort to slow the spread of the pandemic novel coronavirus, telecommunications companies have noticed a surge in traffic. And a lot of it’s coming from video games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty, both of which pit players against one another in online battlefields.

“We reported an increase of more than 70% of Internet traffic over our landline network, with a big contribution from online gaming such as Fortnite,” Telecom Italia Chief Executive Officer Luigi Gubitosi said on a conference call, earlier reported by Bloomberg.

Epic, which makes Fortnite, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Activision said Call of Duty: Warzone, the newest addition to its series that was released this week, attracted 6 million people to play in its first 24 hours. “We’re just getting started,” the company tweeted.

As more people around the world are told to keep distance from one another, work remotely and, ideally, stay home, cabin fever could set in quick. It’s no wonder then that some people are retreating to the online world as a mental escape from the real one.

Bloomberg reported that Vodafone in the UK and Telia in Sweden are preparing for surging bandwidth demands. With schools now closing throughout the US, local carriers and services are likely not far behind. 

Discord, a video and chat app popular among gamers, said it is expanding the number of people who can use its group video chat service up to 50 at a time as it expects demand to surge as more people stay home.

Verizon in the US said in a statement Wednesday it hasn’t seen “a measurable increase in data usage” so far. But the company said it plans to spend as much as $18.5 billion this year upgrading its networks to support 5G wireless and more reliability. Verizon also said it will prioritize network demands of US hospitals, first responders and government agencies if its network comes under strain.

AT&T, Comcast, Netflix, Hulu and Disney didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.