Epic struggles to balance big tournaments with casual Fortnite play

Albert S. August 20, 2019

Epic Games continues to outdo itself. The famed Fortnite developer and publish is only pumping more and more money into its game’s fledgling esports scene. The latest announcement of a $10 million prize for its later tournament series serves as further evidence of this.

This comes only a short time after the completion of the Fortnite World Cup, where Epic Games distributed a total of $30 million to competing players. This was set to become the biggest prize pool in the history of esports competition prior to the prize money at The International 2019 surpassing it in August.

The latest $10 million Fortnite competition began in earnest on August 17 and will run for five weeks through September 22.

It hasn’t all been rosy for Epic Games, however. Fortnite fans revolted in droves following the introduction of the controversial B.R.U.T.E. mech. The new mech is able to quickly devastate both players and their built structures, causing havoc in games and offering little in the way of counterplay.

Fortnite players were able to get #RemoveTheMech trending on Twitter, such was their displeasure. But Epic Games has stubbornly refused to remove the game’s new mechanic, insisting that it was good to give less skilled players an opportunity to overcome their opponents and win games.

Epic Games does frequently add new content to the game, particularly at the start of a new season. But never before has an addition to the game been so poorly received. It’s particularly impactful given that Epic has included the B.R.U.T.E. in the game’s competitive modes, meaning that players gunning for $10 million in prizes will have to deal with a game mechanic the developer admits is meant to close the battle royale’s skill gap.

It’s a frustrating situation for pro players, or even for casual players who’ve spent many hours grinding up their skills and want to see that practice pay off.

It also shows the careful balance that Epic Games is now forced to manage between running events with massive prize pools and balancing a game with casual players in mind. The size of the esports industry and the money involved is readily apparent, from huge prizes to a big sports betting market that allows fans to put money on their favorite teams and players.

When those competitions are influenced by mechanics players and fans deem unfair, developers are going to hear about it. And Epic Games hasn’t seemed particularly willing to listen thus far.

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