The end of Fortnite? Huge asteroid blows up map, leaves behind black hole

Fans of Fortnite are wondering if the game is over for good after an asteroid seemed to destroy the entire map.

The wildly popular game, in which players compete to be the last one standing on a virtual island battlefield, has released ten seasons since its launch in 2017.

Epic Games, which owns Fortnite, had hinted the current season would come to a dramatic conclusion with an event known only as 'The End'. A countdown timer also appeared in the game.

Those who were playing online at 2pm on Sunday (EST) watched as a number of rockets converged in the sky and created a rift, which resulted in a huge meteor crashing to the ground. The island was destroyed and all online players were sucked into the rift before a black hole appeared on screen.

After this shocking moment, all tweets on the official Fortnite Twitter account were deleted except a livestream of the black hole, which is still running. 

Each season of the game has featured a dramatic concluding event such as a volcanic eruption or an island-wide showdown, but the season 10 meteor is different. While the game typically resumes gameplay with a redesigned island after a brief downtime, Fortnite has remained unplayable for more than 24 hours.

After the initial excitement of the blackout wore off, fans are now expressing their agitation at being unable to play.

Many are spending their post-Fortnite time watching the black hole, which occasionally ejects what seem to be random numbers, and pondering their hidden meaning.

Gaming journalists are calling the blackout an "unprecedented" marketing decision and speculating as to what Epic could be planning for the next season.

The Verge points out the company will doubtless be losing millions of dollars while the game remains down, but expects it will recover the loss thanks to drumming up huge excitement in the meantime. 

A grieving father who had planned a 24-hour Fortnite charity livestream for Sunday was crushed he wouldn't be able to play the game when he intended.

Arron Anderson told The Mirror his six-year-old son Harvey died earlier this year from a chest infection related to cerebral palsy, and he'd hoped to raise money for the hospice that took care of him before his death.

"We're just hoping [Fortnite] returns soon."