Epic Games has admitted that the new island-based age rating system in Fortnite "didn't hit the mark," and now it's working on something new that will hopefully make things a little more equitable for everyone.
The controversial age ratings, rolled out last week, applied an ESRB-style rating to each individual island in Fortnite. The goal, Epic said at the time, was "to help parents and players make informed play decisions about the thousands of games and other experiences in Fortnite."
That sounds reasonable enough. The problem is that some of the cosmetics in the game aren't compatible with the E (Everyone) or E10+ rating, including some items that people had paid for. Simply put, that means players cannot use T (Teen)-rated cosmetics in E-rated islands: Instead, those cosmetics are automatically replaced with something that is compatible with the island's rating. Epic said only about 7% of Fortnite's outfits carry the T rating (and thus cannot be equipped in E-rated islands), which is a very small amount, but even so—and this will surely come as no surprise—the scheme went over like a lead bus.
To be fair, some of the upset is justified. As redditor Just_what_itis pointed out, for instance, the "swole cat" Meowscles outfit cannot be used in younger-rated Fortnite islands, but the implacable psycho mass murderer Michael Myers is fair game everywhere. Fortnite itself is rated T, which makes the presence of E-rated islands kind of a head-scratcher all on its own.
For some, the problem seemed less about the inability to use certain skins on certain islands, and more about the perceived future direction of Fortnite: Redditor cg114921 described it as "the Roblox-ification" of Fortnite, suggesting that Epic is too focused on chasing the success of one of the few games in the world bigger than Fortnite.
Whatever the reason for the move, Epic has now committed to walking it back, or at least taking it in a different direction.
"Welp, our plan for cosmetics with the ratings update didn’t hit the mark," the official Fortnite account tweeted. "We're working on a few new options that we hope to have in place for say... some sort of big in-game event. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you posted <3"
Epic went a little deeper into the matter in a blog post, saying the age rating system "for the majority of Fortnite cosmetics" will be disabled until it comes up with a better long-term solution. That will happen on December 3, with the rollout of the v28.00 update.
"We were conservative in how we reviewed cosmetics and their potential impact on an island’s rating," Epic said. "We are evaluating all cosmetics again now.
"A small number of existing cosmetics and less than ten Outfits will remain playable only in T-rated (or regionally equivalent rated) islands because of their obvious fear or violence elements."
The immediate fan reaction was very positive, and it's not just because the age ratings are being changed—there's also a palpable sense of relief, and almost joy, that Epic is paying attention to the fan base and willing to adjust course in response to it.
There's also excitement over the "big event" tease. Dataminers recently leaked word of a multi-stage live event called The Big Bang that will conclude Fortnite Chapter 4 Season 5. That name isn't carved in stone, but word on the street is that the event, whatever it ends up being called, will begin on December 2.