Last night (April 23rd) saw the debut of Travis Scott’s much-vaunted concert in Fortnite, a live show that had been building for weeks with the hype machine going into overdrive. It proved to be a huge success, smashing concurrent player records for the game with repeated showings still to come.
In the build-up to the event, as is so often the case with the Fortnite community, a whisper turned into a shout and then almost a demand. Despite very little evidence to suggest so, fans whipped themselves into a frenzy on social media over the idea of returning to the original Fortnite island at the conclusion of the concert. Twitter was abuzz with the expectation from nothing, leading to a lot of disappointment when it turned out to be nothing more than a nod during the visual spectacular.
This is a common issue with the Fortnite community: wishing something out of thin air and then turning to anger when it doesn’t inevitably transpire. As someone who dips in and out of Fortnite and many other communities, Fortnite has perhaps the most expectant, exhausting community of them all.
Fortnite fans burn through new content like those piranhas did to Bart in that Treehouse of Horror, especially when it comes to cosmetics. Deadpool, the secret Battle Pass skin for Chapter 2 – Season 2, was a massively hyped-up addition for weeks, asking players to complete challenges to unlock him. In the short time since many people unlocked him, I seldom see any Deadpool skins in the lobby, the majority clearly having moved on to something else.
To cast your mind back a little further, the Ghoul Trooper skin was the most requested Item Shop cosmetic to make a return late last year before it finally did, yet it’s now virtually invisible within lobbies, those who were ravenous for its return having long moved on to another obsession. Admittedly, Epic feed into this endless clamouring for skins with their FOMO method for selling cosmetics, but it still just takes one influencer or especially loud voice to create an insistent rabble.
They just don’t know what they want. The general consensus flip-flops like a fish on land, their hopes for content turning almost into commands to Epic to make whatever Cool New Thing they’ve imagined into a reality. It wasn’t even that long ago that there were calls for a new map at the backend of Chapter 1, and here we are again already.
By the end of the game’s first “instalment”, the Fortnite map was an absolute state, a hodge-podge of buckling to fan demand and far too much constant change to keep the game’s impatient players invested. Nostalgia for locations that weren’t even out of the game for long at all made the map a canvas of nonsense with tacos raining from the skies and a floating island dominating the skies, among so, so much else. It was design by committee at its worst.
To see the community calling for a return to the original island is just utterly tiring, especially when it wouldn’t be long at all until they wanted something else yet again. This restlessness is to be expected considering the game’s seemingly younger playerbase, as well as just how gigantic the community is overall, yet they are so hard to please that I almost feel bad for Epic. Almost. They have a lot of money.
From day one of the game’s release, Epic have always been about constant updates to keep things ticking over and fresh, meaning that the Fortnite you play today may not be the same one tomorrow. This early promise is now like a weight on their shoulders, millions of players expecting a well-oiled content churn as the bare minimum. Whether they wanted to or not to keep players engaged with the game, it’s now a risk to take a step back from updates, lest the low attention spans make players venture off to another live service.
I know this is all very Old Man Yells At Cloud, but the Fortnite community makes me worried for just how demanding players will be in the future across many live services, that so many may expect Epic’s prolific output to become the norm. We saw this a little with Apex Legends, which couldn’t (and actually refused to) match the content mill of Fortnite and saw its players drop off. It’s just not sustainable.
While the world may be in turmoil right now and many of us don’t know what will happen at the end of “all this”, one thing will stay the same: Fortnite fans will never be happy.
Fortnite: Chapter 2 – Season 2 is free-to-play on PC via the Epic Games Store, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android.
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