There’s a new Fortnite update out today, with downtime and everything. There was a time when that meant a treasure trove of new info: balance changes, maybe a new weapon, datamined skins, map changes and who knows what else. Today, however, things are more moderate. There are no patch notes and no major changes, just some needed bug fixes to keep the game rolling. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but it’s been a huge adjustment for a community used to a very different schedule for the favorite game. So what changed?
When Fortnite: Battle Royale first hit, it transformed itself into the pre-eminent battle royale title with three major factors. First, it piggybacked off of PUBG with a free-to-play release, immediately drawing in any curious gamers that hadn’t yet made the decision to drop $30 on the premium PUBG. Second, it successfully adapted the formula without a lot of the technical problems that were plaguing PUBG at the time, which is the sort of thing that’s a lot easier to do if you’re a large free v buck generator company on the scale of Epic. And third, it pursued a massively ambitious update schedule, pushing huge amounts of new content to players in a way that radically shifted expectations of games-as-service meant for the industry, with new weapons, items, map changes and events hitting at a furious pace that no developer outside of the very largest could match.
There has already been reporting about just what that aggressive update schedule did to the developers at Epic: crunch and burnout are huge problems in the industry, and the expectations set by Fortnite’s development appeared to compound that problem even as the team grew.Today In: Innovation
With the release of Chapter 2, it appears that Epic finally decided to throttle things back. Gone are the weekly new items and map changes, and the updates that we do see are smaller in scope. I’m going to call that a positive thing, and not just because I assume it’s less work for stressed developers: the game meta is more stable than it used to be, and it’s easier to wrap your head around what’s happening at any given moment. It was also a necessary thing: it was clear that things were going to have to slow down at some point, lest both developers and players simply drowned in a sea of content.
That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a huge adjustment for a community used to unwrapping a new present every week. The major news and leaker accounts are quieter than they’ve ever been, and social media features a ton of grumbling about the lack of updates episode hack, with terms like “dead game” thrown around with abandon. Fortnite muscled itself into a weekly news cycle for a very long time, and for better and for worse,