The controversial changes Epic Games made to Fortnite may have caused a stir, but the developer has now explained why it made those tweaks. As it turns out, the changes made to v8.20 were down to the way in which average players reacted to the update.
Although Fortnite is a huge part of gaming at the moment, it hasn't all been plain sailing for Epic Games with the hardcore fan base - and not only because of the stretched screen resolution ban. Recent changes to the game rolled back some features that the competitive scene had loved, such as earning life and materials with each kill. For hardcore players, this made the game worse, with some streamers even protesting by playing Uno instead.
Epic Games has now provided some context for its decision to remove these gameplay elements. In a competitive development update, the studio laid out why those features so enjoyed by the hardcore scene were cut. Although the competitive players were enamoured by these changes, the normal Fortnite players reacted poorly to this more intense tone to the game.
As Epic Games put it, the introduction of the Siphon mechanic led to the "unexpected consequence" of the mainstream Fortnite community becoming frustrated, feeling like "they had less of a chance due to encounters with high-skill players with full health and shields." The end result of this was a clash between the hardcore and casual players, with the top 10% of players increasing engagement in the game, but the other 90% actually playing the game less.
This is a balance that all games with both a strong competitive scene and a standard player base have to find, and it's difficult to reach a middle ground that both sides are happy with. The perfect example of this is Super Smash Bros., with Nintendo's cross-property fighting game earning a huge competitive following for the GameCube's Melee that continues to this day. Follow-ups have still been incredibly successful for mainstream audiences, but the competitive scene has generally maintained its focus on Melee in spite of later releases in the series.
Fortnite faces a different set of difficulties, though. It's a game that is in part built on the giant streaming community that ties integrally into that competitive scene, and so Epic Games needs to be careful not to ruffle the feathers of its most popular personalities. That said, with the vast majority of the player base finding less enjoyment in the previous version, it's clear where Epic's priorities needed to lie.
Source: Epic Games