Fortnite developer Epic Games is walking back its plans to introduce skill-based matchmaking into Battle Royale after fan response was decidedly negative. The company suggests that the concept might still appear in Fortnite in some form, but promises to take feedback into account and think carefully before making any changes to Battle Royale.
In a lengthy post about planned updates coming soon and coming later, Epic Games gave players a taste of what was in the pipeline for Fortnite. Short term, the developer plans to get the console versions of the game running at 60 frames per second for a crisp visual experience. And long term it wants to think of even more unique limited time modes, beyond simply forcing players to use specific weapons.
But it was a small section of the post called Matchmaking Improvements that caught many Fortnite players’ eyes, and gave them cause for concern. It read:
We are working on changes to matchmaking that are aimed at creating matches with a more balanced distribution of skill.
While Epic doesn’t come outright and say it, the intent seems to be introducing skill-based matchmaking into Fortnite. So players would be matched against similarly skilled opponents anytime they joined a match.
Skill-based matchmaking has become something of a contentious subject in recent years, with many multiplayer experiences losing favor with its fan base after implementing the system. It’s by no means a bad system, but it’s one that needs to be treated carefully.
The biggest issue with skill-based matchmaking is that it tends to take some of the casual fun out of an experience. If players are consistently matched against opponents that are at their skill level, they will need to perform at a high level in order to compete, let alone win. Gone are the days of running into a player that is an “easy kill.” Everyone knows how to play as well as you do.
The other popular complaint about skill-based matchmaking is that it takes away the entertainment value for streaming viewers and the streamers. Since most streamers are skilled at the game, and thus would have highly skilled competition they would have a harder time delivering the exciting content their viewers like to see. It would be much harder to set a duo kills record, for example.
If Epic Games is still dead set on introducing skill-based matchmaking, the easy answer is to relegate it to a different playlist. Give players the option of choosing if they want to “try hard” or if they want something a little more casual. Many multiplayer experiences have lost favor with their fan bases after introducing skill-based matchmaking, so it would be a shame to see Fortnite do the same and squander its record-breaking growth in player numbers.
Fortnite is out now for PC, PS4, and Xbox One.