Wildly popular video game Fortnite.
Epic Games
  • Amazon now has South African data centres, which means better speeds for its local customers – and potentially local customers of gaming companies that host with Amazon..
  • South African Fortnite players have been calling for local servers to improve their gaming experience.
  • There’s no word from the game's publisher Epic Games, but Amazon it is ready to provide local servers to any gaming companies - if requested.
  • South African servers could help kickstart the African e-sports scene.
  • For more stories go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.


South African Fortnite players have been calling for local servers since Amazon announced SA-based data centres just over two weeks ago. The campaign even briefly trended on Twitter.

Despite the fervour, Epic Games, the developer and publisher of Fortnite, has not made any comment.

The excitement is due to the announcement by hosting giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) that it has opened its first African region. AWS, the cloud infrastructure arm of Amazon, organises clusters of data centres into regions, and the Africa cluster is based in Cape Town.

According to AWS, this means that South African companies and organisations “can run their applications and serve end-users in Africa with even lower latency”. What this means for gamers is that video game companies finally have the means to set up local servers – which means a much-improved playing experience.

The company says it absolutely has the capacity to host local gaming servers. Thanks to the Cape Town server region “gaming companies now have the opportunity to launch local gaming servers significantly reducing the latency for local gamers,” says AWS.

The hosting company is also sympathetic to the concerns of gamers. “For online gamers low latency is key to a good user experience, low latency achieves smoother gameplay without lagging,” says AWS “This means that in games where timing is everything…gamers suffer greatly when the latency is high.”

Lower latency means a lower ping which, in gamer terms, means the time it takes for a signal from a computer to travel to a server and back. For South African Fortnite players, that server is located in London. And in a competitive game like Fortnite, a bad ping feels like swimming in syrup against players physically closer to the server.

According to Kareem Khan, one of SA’s top Fortnite players and a member of the e-sports organisation Bravado Gaming, a high ping “affects reaction time to people’s actions, such as building slower, to shooting as fast and many other attributes. It is basically competing at a terrible disadvantage.”

This has huge implications for competitive gaming in South Africa. For a player like Kareem, “competitive Fortnite [with high ping] is extremely difficult and almost impossible at times.” This is especially the case when trying to compete in the highly competitive European region, he says.

In fact, South African gaming servers could turbo-charge the local e-sports scene, as South Africans would finally be competitive in the international arena, and help professional gamers make a living. “Having a server would help us win cash-based tourneys,” says Kareem, “and make playing the game even more sustainable long term. There’s a huge player base of us South Africans and we might just surprise the world if we’re given an equal playing field.”

Epic Games did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

See what a difference higher, and lower, ping rates can make in Fortnite:

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