Fortnite players revolt as the game's 'Roblox-ification' with baffling age ratings stops them accessing paid cosmetics

Peely from Fortnite with banana-fied Wolverine claws.
(Image credit: Epic Games)

Fans of part-time battle royale and full-time brand chimaera Fortnite are in an uproar right now, following an update to the game's Creative mode islands that's left players unable to equip some of their paid cosmetics.

The update in question is Fortnite's introduction of island age ratings. Released yesterday, the new patch has made it so that the game's islands—spaces mostly created by players where they have full creative reign—can now be given their own age ratings. That means island makers can, if they so choose, set a rating lower than Fortnite's own T for Teen ESRB rating on their created spaces.

All well and good, except Fortnite's head-spinning array of cosmetic items also have their own age ratings now. Try to equip a cosmetic rated T for Teen on an island with a lower E10+ or E rating, and you'll find that it's been replaced by a dull and miserly default skin, no matter how much you paid for it.

A lot of players are outraged by the change. Sure, Fortnite's main modes are still rated Teen—meaning you can equip whatever cosmetics you want in them without fuss—but there are still plenty of players who spend a bunch of time in islands that have found themselves unable to adorn themselves with their preferred doodad, gewgaw, or tchotchke. Many are understandably confused as to why Epic implemented this change in a way that prevented players from equipping T-rated skins instead of a way that prevented younger players from seeing them.

Frankly? They have a point. Some of the choices Epic has made when it comes to skin restrictions seem incomprehensible. Why, for instance, are the Lara Croft and Meowscles skins restricted to T for Teen islands while Michael Myers is universally acceptable? Why are loading screens—only ever seen by the player who has them equipped—restricted at all? What the heck did Peely ever do to you?

The Fortnite subreddit is currently awash with players irritated at being denied access to their own skins. "Rated T for Took my Money," complains a user named DGwar, angry at being unable to use cosmetics from the $16 Driftwalker cosmetic pack in islands rated E10+ or lower. "The new item ban system is so inconsistent that it feels like [Epic] didn't even try," says a player named GhostOfMuttonPast. "Is Epic trying to kill the game they just revived?" asks someone called Th3Bunny in a post with 1,500 upvotes at time of writing.

Some players reckon Epic wants to turn its game into Roblox, one of the few things on the planet more successful than Fortnite, and that this relatively ham-handed attempt to make the game more kid-friendly is symptomatic of that. "The Roblox-ification of this game has been absolutely tragic to watch unfold," wrote a user named cg114921, "Fortnite has done this before. When Battle Royale took off, riding on the coattails of PUBG, Save the World was thrown to the wayside. 

"Fortnite stuck that landing very well, to be fair, but that kind of total shift isn't gonna be successful all the time. Lightning doesn't strike twice." The user doesn't think Epic is going to accidentally kill Fortnite, but they and several others are put off by what they see as another attempt to chase someone else's success.

We'll see how that shakes out in the long run, I suppose. For now, Epic has taken people's complaints on board and promised a response, albeit over quite a long timeframe. The company says about 7% of Fortnite outfits can only be equipped on T-rated islands right now, and has promised to "enable most of these Outfits to be compatible with all ratings by having them auto-adjust appearance based on the island you want to play." But most, of course, is not all.

Joshua Wolens
News Writer

One of Josh's first memories is of playing Quake 2 on the family computer when he was much too young to be doing that, and he's been irreparably game-brained ever since. His writing has been featured in Vice, Fanbyte, and the Financial Times. He'll play pretty much anything, and has written far too much on everything from visual novels to Assassin's Creed. His most profound loves are for CRPGs, immersive sims, and any game whose ambition outstrips its budget. He thinks you're all far too mean about Deus Ex: Invisible War.