When Fortnite’s v8.20 update hit earlier this year, hardcore fans were not happy. Among various tweaks and changes came the news that Fortnite was doing away with mechanics that awarded players for getting kills. Since then, the internet has been full of nonstop cries to “revert” the game to a previous state — but today, Epic Games revealed that most people didn’t actually enjoy the changes.
Previously, Fortnite awarded players with extra health after eliminating enemies, who also dropped building materials once dead. Players were also able to carry more resources, and gather them more quickly, too. While these mechanics were only in place for about a month, they were heavily embraced by the competitive community because it allowed them to focus more on the action, rather than spending a lot of time scavenging for supplies or health.
My thoughts on the most recent Fortnite update. I could have rambled on for 10 minutes but this is the simple vid. pic.twitter.com/QjCwwUkQyd— Ninja (@Ninja) March 27, 2019
These tweaks were completely undone back in March, and it’s been non-stop griping among the Fortnite community ever since. People didn’t understand why Epic Games would undo something that clearly made for better competitive play. Today, Epic Games finally broke the silence on why it made such controversial changes, revealing that, despite the outcry online, the average player didn’t actually like v8.20 that much.
“Everybody enjoyed receiving health and shields for eliminations after we introduced the changes to the core modes, but there was an unexpected consequence: players at large grew more frustrated with Fortnite play, feeling they had less of a chance due to encounters with high-skill players with full health and shields,” Epic wrote in a blog post. “Ultimately, Siphon increased engagement for the highest-skilled 10%, while the remaining 90% were more frustrated and played less.”
Apparently, people started playing the core battle royale modes less, stating that the game had gotten too “intense,” Epic says.
What makes this revelation fascinating is that it goes against the common wisdom shared by Fortnite fans online. According to popular streamers and the vocal Fortnite players on social media, the game is getting worse and making them want to play less. But players who enjoy Fortnite as a competitive game are vastly outnumbered by the people who play Fortnite just to have fun.
And when it comes down to it, Epic has a duty to the entirety of the Fortnite player base, not just the most hardcore players. The problem is that it’s the hardcore players who stream the game nonstop that have become the face of Fortnite online. These players have to deal with Fortnite’s identity as a casual game while also seriously competing for millions of dollars, which complicates things even further. Epic wants to build an esports scene around Fortnite, without catering to a niche audience too heavily.
“Fortnite competitive play relies on a unique balancing act: maintaining a solid and balanced experience for competitive players, while being essentially the same Fortnite played by hundreds of millions of players,” Epic reasoned. “After all, those players are the audience for Fortnite competition, and their engagement is key to the growing opportunities for competitive players.”
Still, for players who really miss those Siphon changes, Epic offers an alternative: You can always just play Arena mode, where those mechanics are still active.