UPDATE: Epic has provided the following clarification about this update, which seems to suggest that in the future skins with guns will have those elements removed specifically when playing age-gated experiences:
More on today’s rating announcement. About 7% of Fortnite Outfits can only be equipped in islands rated Teen. Over the next year we will enable most of these Outfits to be compatible with all ratings by having them auto-adjust appearance based on the island you want to play.
ORIGINAL STORY: As strange as it is to think about, Fortnite lives or dies by its cosmetics. Its younger fans sometimes see a new collaboration (like with Invincible, for instance) as brand new content that can freshen up the game more than even a new weapon can, with billions upon billions of V-Bucks being spent each season to get the freshest Item Shop drops. But what certain fans might not expect is that they won’t always be able to use their cosmetics in any way they like, which seems to now be the case after the game’s v27.10 update.
Epic has started to self-police the content found in its user-generated modes, given the wide age ranges who play the game as well as the breadth of creations available in Creative. You probably wouldn’t want a 4 year old playing a horror map, for instance. Now, as part of the update, certain cosmetic items can also no longer be used.
Epic has recently started to include age ratings for the content found in Fortnite’s user-generated modes after teaming up with International Age Rating Coalition (IARC), and is now seemingly limiting the use of cosmetic items that have gun designs and properties for more mature audiences for experiences that are age-rated lower than your regional equivalent of “teen” as part of its most recent update.
Here’s what an age-gated experience with a 7 rating looks like in the UK:
When we went to play this map with the Leon S Kennedy skin, we were instead transformed into a default skin as the Leon skin is blocked from being used in experiences with younger age ratings.
It seems like this restriction may apply to every skin that has a gun as part of its design. Some of the other restricted skins from our locker we encountered:
– Leon S Kennedy
– Claire Redfield
– Lara Croft
– Rebirth Harley Quinn
– Doctor Doom
– Black Widow (Snow Suit)
– The Visitor
– Agent Peely
– Cloud Striker
– Mincemeat (no gun, monster)
– Nitehare (no gun, monster)
– Nolan Chance
– Sgt Winter
– Xenomorph (no gun, monster)
This may seem surprising considering that, on the surface, Fortnite is a game all about guns, but there’s probably a huge chunk of the millions of daily players who only take part in non-violent modes like hide and seek, fashion shows, etc. Epic has been making really strong pushes with the launch of Creative 2.0 to make Fortnite a game that’s more than being the left person standing, and to create more of a platform than just a game. They also seem to be proactively getting ahead of falling afoul of policing from an official body, like the ESRB, by volunteering to work with them. Age ratings from ESRB and regional equivalents (PEGI, for instance) will appear on all experiences going forward.
However, it’s still something of a surprising situation, especially considering that there are lots of cosmetics from more adult properties that don’t seem to be affected by this policy change, such as DOOM. Epic has in the past restricted certain items for only being available with certain skins, but never due to an age restriction. On the flipside, they long ago made it so that all Battle Royale skins could be used in Save the World in a much-approved move.
It will be fascinating to see how exactly this impacts their cosmetic sales going forward, as players will be warned if an item is restricted before purchasing. It’s the first time I’ve ever heard of a free-to-play game self-policing its paid content, especially considering there’s been no obvious external pressure to do so. However, Epic had to pay $520 million due to FTC charges for tricking children into purchases in 2022, so they’re clearly very anxious about another situation like that happening again.
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