Bugs continue to create problems for Fortnite competitive
Ninja’s World Cup qualifying death a very public embarrassment for Epic Games
Early access must go if Fortnite is to be taken seriously as a pro esport
Two of the more basic things required for the development of a true competitive gaming scene are a game that is entertaining to play and watch, and a structure to that game that rewards skill and is minimal on RNG.
That Fortnite has the first of these covered is obvious from the rise of stars like Ninja and the record breaking numbers the game reached both on twitch and in downloads. But where the game seems to have let itself down is providing consistency to gameplay and minimising randomness. It’s all very well having an entertaining game, but if the winner isn’t necessarily the best player, or if the best players are randomly taken out of the game at certain points, the competitive scene will never grow.
And this is precisely what happened to Ninja in his World Cup qualification match last week…
In the much shared clip Ninja glides down, lightly clipping a tree which causes him to immediately fall to his death. Beyond being a serious public embarrassment for Epic Games, this also illustrates clearly the issues with competitive. First up, the best and most highly skilled players are not going to invest time and energy into a game that isn’t going to reward their hard work. There are many other games with huge multimillion competitive scenes that aren’t as unpredictable or unstable.
And it that stability that is the second big issue here. With the game still in early access and huge changes sweeping through it every few weeks it may not be worth putting time into a game that could change so dramatically in the coming months? Why learn a new skill if the meta could change at any point?
The next big issue is that conceptive tournaments as they currently stand are just too messy — as in really, really messy. It’s hard to work out what is going on half the time and I admit to some serious sympathy for the casters. Put simply, there needs to be a radically different game mode and structure created if Epic wants Fortnite to be taken seriously as a professional competitive game. And in fairness to Epic Games they are slowly beginning to address these issues. In a recent article Epic games acknowledge the serious bugs and even went as far as disabling vehicles when it emerged that players were getting stuck….
But is this good enough for a game that has pretensions of being a serious professional competitive game? The point I’m driving at here is that while it’s fine to keep a game early access, it isn’t fine to be “Early Access” while trying to cultivate a professional tournament scene. It’s a contradiction and its stupid, and its time for EPIC to pick. Competitive or early access – you can’t have both.