Fornite’s Big Mistake
Nov 25, 2020
In November of 2019, Fortnite made one of the few mistakes of its lifetime when it introduced skill-based matchmaking, a system that, “puts a player against someone who is similarly skilled as them so as to help them improve in the game.” Essentially, their battle royale matchmaking service would place a player in a lobby consisting of players majorly of comparable skill.
While in theory it doesn't seem to be all that bad a system(after all, its main purpose is to allow beginners and generally lower-skilled players ample opportunity to compete and get wins), the results nearly nine months later speak to the contrary.
All different types of players, ranging from the best of streamers to the most average players have been driven away or at the very least peeved at the spike in the games competitiveness, which stems from the introduction of skill-based matchmaking. One notable example of the former type of player that has been driven away comes in the form of the incredibly popular streamer by the name of Courage, who was once a prominent member of the Fortnite community. When he was asked why he transitioned his content away from gaming, Courage responded that were he to continue playing, he would, “go insane”. He touched on how skill-based matchmaking has made the game less enjoyable for him, he remarked that, “I just mentally can no longer do two-minute build battles with skill-based matchmaking for no return. It just doesn’t do it for me anymore.”
He is not alone among popular streamers/Fortnite content creators in thinking that skill-based matchmaking has hampered the enjoyability of Fortnite; another popular streamer by the name of Sypher K seemingly echoed his sentiments when he said, “I hate SBMM so much... Not because of playing good players - because of the mentality and attitude that it promotes. Every pub game is like the World Cup qualifier." Yet another popular Fortnite creator by the name of Ali-A seemed equally peeved at skill-based matchmaking, going so far as to say, “Skill Based Matchmaking is the worst audition ever to Fortnite and it's killing the game”. Such strong words from a variety of different Fortnite content creators across a variety of different platforms reveals to us that HSkill-based matchmaking has rendered Fortnite far more competitive then it was prior to it being implemented, to the point where every game feels like a professional one.
Though skill-based matchmaking is not without its merits(after all, its main purpose is to allow beginners and generally lower-skilled players ample opportunity to compete and get wins), it seems that it's imposed a figurative limit on enjoyability once you reach a certain level. Because there are no shortage of skilled players in Fortnite, it seems that as players progress up the ranks, the game will become increasingly less enjoyable to them, as they will have to consistently face competition such that Forntite is no longer enjoyable.
Aside from damaging Fornite’s streamership, skill-based matchmaking has also hurt its general playership. Not only does it complicate their ability to watch streamers they may like to watch play Fortnite, it also lowers the enjoyability of the overall game for them. As one critic put it, skill based matchmaking, “has been a common complaint among gamers as it essentially removed the casual aspect of the game while causing almost every higher-level play to unfold like a competitive contest.”
While the competitiveness aspect might be hard to put into clear terms for the average Fortnite player, skill-based matchmaking has come with a host of adverse effects for the average player. Queue times have likely increased meaningfully because of skill-based matchmaking, as instead of grouping together a random pool of players, the new system mandates that it has to be selected, which will almost definitely take a far longer time to actually play the game. One critic said that, “Others have been lamenting about the game’s server issues with reported game crashes affecting players, unable to load teammates into a squad despite queueing up for minutes”, which has been a direct effect of skill-based matchmaking. Whatsmore, many of the measures that Fortnite have introduced to lower queue times have in fact been detrimental; one such example of this is the introduction of cross-platform play, which essentially allows for a pool to be composed of PC, controller, and mobile players. It’s been a long standing fact across gaming that PC players have an intrinsic advantage across almost all games, thus rendering cross-platform play unfair to mobile and controller players who will have to face PC players on a regular basis because of cross-platform play.
If any further evidence was needed to prove that skill-based matchmaking was bad for the average Fortnite player, look no further than the response to when Epic removed it from Squads. The response to when they removed it from squads was overwhelmingly positive; in fact, if you look at internet and youtube responses, you’d find ample evidence to suggest this, but you’d be hard pressed to find many people who have expressed opinions against it. All in all, not only is there ample evidence against skill-based matchmaking, the general consensus seems to be strongly in favour of said evidence.