While there are many challenges facing esports in 2018, this year has also had a consistent theme at the heart of many of the biggest issues.
Whether it is the issues around the FACEIT Major in London, the balancing of nine-bangs in Call of Duty or the differing needs of pro and casual players, it’s been trickier in 2018 for the people behind the games you love to please everyone, and Fortnite is perhaps in the trickiest of them all.
The game has enjoyed phenomenal, breakout success over the course of 2018, with Twitch stars such as Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins providing a stream of incredible moments that often rank highly on social media and sites like Reddit.
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Infinity Blade - not the sharpest move
But then, around 24 hours before the event started, an item known as Infinity Blade was added to the game, a weapon that originally appeared in a different Epic Games title known as the Infinity Blade Trilogy. Making any change to the mechanics or items in a game prior to an event risks throwing off the professionals who have spent months perfecting their craft, and it turns out this particular item is also incredibly overpowered, leading to a situation in the Winter Royale where the owner became essentially unkillable, or at least overpowered to an uncompetitive extent.
However, moments like the one we saw in competition, which can be so detrimental to the competitive scene, are like manna from heaven for the marketing guys. The average players revels in those times where an overpowered item drops into their lap and they feel like a god, but the actual gods of the game are discouraged when they spend months perfecting their skills only to see everything fall by the wayside to an overpowered weapon added so close to click-off that they have no chance to prepare.
It’s not just those games either. Meta shifts mid-season in Overwatch were caused by the publishers introducing new characters to the game mid-competition, Rainbow Six Siege developers were even forced to ban out a character after pressure from the world’s best saw overwhelming community backlash about their ability, and even the early parts of Smash Ultimate’s life have been somewhat stymied by balance issues.