When Epic Games released the second major update of Season 8, players fixated around three key bullet points.
In v8.20 Epic reverted the changes they made in v7.40 when they brought some features from Pop-Up Cups to the main game.
Those included bringing the total materials down from 3000 to 1500 by capping each material slot at 500, adding a siphon of 50 health/shield for each kill, and increasing the rate of harvest.
Epic made it clear in the patch notes that these changes are great in competitive settings, which is why they are still live in Arena Mode.
- Read More: Traps in Fortnite bugged after v8.20 update
The reactions to this change were quick and brutal. Everyone and their mom had an opinion on the changes and the major voices in the community were basically across the board negative.
But that wasn’t my reaction. Are these changes ideal? Probably not. Still, Epic moving towards a split in casual and competitive game modes is something Fortnite has needed for a long time. This may not be the way to go about them, but I do think this speaks to a positive trend for Fortnite as a whole.
People who have been reading this site for a while know I have been vocal about how Fortnite needs two sets of rules, one for casual and one for competitive modes.
So I wasn’t that mad when I read these patch notes. I have no doubt in my mind that this patch had the goal of de-sweatifying the main playlist. Arena Mode exists now and is a permanent fixture. If you think you are an above average player, Epic wants you to move to Arena.
I plan to struggle my way through the low-level Arena Modes, an experience I have had with every other esport from Rocket League to League of Legends. Ultimately I’ve found that progression through ranks to be one of the more rewarding aspects of playing a game.
Still, it hasn’t just been the streamers complaining. Reddit and Twitter are both almost universally are against this change. But Twitter and Reddit don’t make up the majority of the player base, or even a significant minority.
Epic has said there are 250 million unique Fortnite accounts. For comparison, the Fortnite Twitter has seven million followers, /r/FortniteBR just one million subscribers. Obviously Fortnite is F2P so tons of those accounts are inactive, but even if just 50 million are active, that still dwarfs the Reddit and Twitter communities.
These changes were made for them. I have a personal connection to one of those players, he is my roommate.
I asked my roommate what he thought of today’s patch. His response: “What’s a patch?”
Lately, he’s been playing Fortnite less because he has been getting dominated, but his brother is decent and they connect over the game.
He doesn’t check patch notes or visit Fortnite forums, he probably hasn’t ever even read one of my articles.
I think this update was aimed at players like my roommate. Epic basically said: “We have a 100 million tournament that is open to the public and a new ranked mode, go play that. We need people to still be able to play Fortnite and have fun, and that means making some changes that benefit the casual player.”
Now sweats have their own playlist where they can play against other people of the same level skill with the ruleset they love, but they still want to be able to pubstomp.
They want the feeding ground of weaker players they can rush at any time without much consequence. But that isn’t what Epic wants.
Even if casual players enjoy the siphon on kill, Epic’s goal with this change is to push a top-level group into Arena Mode by taking out a universally loved mechanic. In fact, just about everyone who reads FortniteINTEL is probably in that group they want to push towards Arena.
Epic gave the top players a ranked system that is based on MMR (Hype) to match players up with people of their skill level. You know, the same thing literally every other esport has. In fact, many esports casual modes are also based on behind-the-scenes MMR.
Fortnite doesn’t have that. You can still play against bots in the lobbies, it will just be harder to rack up massive kill games as you will need to spend more time harvesting and will be more susceptible to third-partying. Compared to other esports, even after these changes, Fortnite still is tilted in favor of the better players.
I have been quick to defend the complaints of pro players when they call for changes because in a lot of cases the competitive mode has been broken. But these are changes made directly for the casual player, AKA my roommate.
It isn’t clear right now if the changes will work, and harvesting speed is definitely not one I would have been itching to change, but having Fortnite begin to separate the player bases is a step in the right direction.
If it means that streamers can’t drop 20 bombs on bots, so be it.
This is clearly just my opinion, but because I have one that seems to be going against the grain this time, I wanted to share. I am curious what you all think, please let me know in the comments below.