Epic Games Vice President clashes with players over ‘Fortnite Ethos’
The recent debate about the newly introduced B.R.U.T.E mechs was looking like it would follow the typical pattern for new content in Fortnite. Item or mechanic gets introduced, pro players declare it to be game-breaking, Epic doesn’t do much to fix, pro players eventually learn to live with it. However, things are a bit different this time around.
The debate has escalated to the point where the vice president of Epic Games has decided to weigh in. The argument has become less important a specific item. Now it is about the general ethos and the approach to the balance of the game. Essentially, this is an argument about how competitive pro-Fortnite should be.
The background to this current controversy is the recent patch for Fortnite was which delivered alongside a message. Epic made it clear in this message that they were committed to balancing the competitive and casual sides of the game. Pro players didn’t exactly like this, but it isn’t really a new arrangement. Games like Super Smash Bros manage to please both audiences. The real issue is the priority that Epic is giving casual play styles over its dedicated competitive mode.
Mark Rein’s Strange Twitter Habits
The Vice President of Epic Games liked a Tweet which suggested that Epic had no obligation to listen to competitive players, and they weren’t particularly important. This invoked a less than friendly reaction from the competitive community in the brief time it was up.
— Cowboy (@CowboyFN_) August 18, 2019
This little disagreement may have been easy to miss over the weekend. Apex Legends had its own developer backlash that went considerably further than liking tweets. Thankfully though, Mark Rein had an explanation to offer:
I use the like button on twitter as a bookmark to be able to remember and easily find things. It does not mean I agree or disagree with the thing I liked but simply that I wanted to reference it later.
— Mark Rein (@MarkRein) August 18, 2019
It isn’t particularly believable that the co-founder of Epic Games is unaware of how to use Twitter or that there is a dedicated bookmark button. It is even less believable that he was somehow trying to save this pretty simple tweet to refer back to later. This explanation is disingenuous but with the bigger argument in Battle Royales going on about Apex Legends at the moment, it may be enough to bury his mistake for a while.
What is Fortnite’s Ethos?
A lot of pro players have weighed in on this as an argument about Fortnite’s ethos. If the game exists to give casual and first-time players a chance at winning or as a game that can hold events with the largest prize pools in competitive gaming. The answer really is that it can be both and has been managing that just fine for a while now.
Fortnite divides its competitive play from its regular play in the Arena mode in-game. While they typically keep the two modes pretty close, it is not unheard of for an unbalanced mechanic like the B.R.U.T.E to be excluded from competitive matches. However, on the other hand, the VP of Epic games may have a point about not needing to listen to a small group of players.
No matter how influential big pro players are, they are a tiny fraction of the player base. Pro players should be finding ways to perform well within the current metagame, not complaining until the metagame is made into something they can use. The mark of a skilled Fortnite player is being able to react to the ever-changing balance of the game and still win tournaments. While the insistence on keeping mechs in competitive matches seems like stubbornness, a good counter could have been developed in the time it took to argue over this.