Fortnite is at the centre of some new drama. It recently unveiled a controversial matchmaking system, which Epic Games now admits is being abused. The gaming company is also facing at least two lawsuits filed against it this month.
Smurfing Ruining the New Matchmaking System
While Fortnite is not new to controversy over game changes, Epic probably didn’t expect the upgrade to the matchmaking system to go sideways. The game’s existing matchmaking system was immensely popular. The new revamp was intended to match players of a similar skill level, so the system is fair to everyone.
In application though, it didn’t take long for crafty Fortniters to abuse this system. As Epic recently admitted in a blog post, some people are resorting to smurfing to find easier matches. In case you are unfamiliar with the word, “smurfing” refers to when an experienced or ranked player creates low-level characters to face off against noobs for easy wins.
Fortnite considers smurfing a “bannable offense.” But that hasn’t stopped the practice from considerably harming the new matchmaking system. Epic Games warned smurfers that they would take “appropriate action” to curb matchmaking abuse.
The player backlash against the new matchmaking system isn’t about smurfing, however. The new system matches players across all platforms as long as their skill level is similar. So a player on PC, console, or mobile can be matched. Players have claimed that this is fundamentally unfair.
Playing the game differs on a touchscreen as opposed to using physical controllers. Someone using a mouse and a keyboard could, for example, potentially aim better over someone playing the game on their iPhone on the train.
Not only that, players say the frame rate differs across various platforms. They ask if it’s really fair to pair someone on a mobile device with 30 fps with someone on a PC with 50 fps. Epic has not responded to these criticisms so far.
Fornite Being Sued Over for Being Addictive “Like Cocaine”
A class-action lawsuit filed in Canada against Epic Games claims Fortnite is designed to be highly addictive, like the drug cocaine. The gameplay mechanics induces dopamine release like hardcore drugs to keep players hooked, the Montreal-based law firm Calex Légal further claimed.
The law firm is representing two players, aged 10 and 15, who alarmed parents with their obsessive Fortnite playing. Epic isn’t legally responsible for such cases. However, Calex Légal says its research strongly indicates that the addictive nature of the game is intentional. Epic Games hired psychologists over the years to actually make the game more addictive, the lawyers said.
Epic could be in legal trouble if the lawsuit can prove that the company put the game on the market without any warning about its addictive qualities. The legal precedent for this comes from a Canadian Supreme Court ruling in 2015 that faulted tobacco companies for not warning customers about the dangers of addiction. Big tobacco for years brazenly marketed a product that was not only addictive but also carcinogenic.
The law firm initiating the proceedings was approached by parents whose minor children played Fortnite to a point that it interfered with their normal lives. The class-action lawsuit is looking for other parents to join in on the legal claim.
It might not be too difficult for the legal team to find disgruntled parents of excessive Fortnite players. There are also treatment centers in Quebec, where the lawsuit is filed, that rehabilitate people addicted to video games like Fortnite. Last year, the World Health Organization officially classified video game addiction as a disease.
Epic has yet to respond to the claims in the lawsuit. The company’s terms of service state that all players agree to include a waiver against such class action lawsuits. That means disputes must be solved in arbitration. However, Quebec has stronger consumer protection laws that allow customers to sue regardless of whether a business discloses the risks associated with a product.
Musician Sues Fortnite Over Emote
Epic is being sued again by an artist over one of their emotes. The saxophonist Leo Pellegrino is taking legal action against Epic for misappropriating his likeness for the emote “Phone It In.” The emote features a saxophone tune and a dance, which Pellegrino says mimics his signature moves that have become “inseparable” from his life and career.
Epic has been sued by musicians, rappers, and actors for using their likenesses or trademark moves for emotes. Pellegrino’s suit is different because he is not suing Epic for copyright infringement, but rather for using his likeness without permission. Thus, Pellegrino is owed compensation by Epic.
The previous copyright infringement cases have not been successful because violations of this nature are not easy to prove. However, misappropriation is something else entirely. Epic has not responded to this lawsuit yet.