Popular shooter Fortnite removed friendly fire. This feature allows users to shoot their own team mates. While present in the game initially, it was removed to combat in-game toxicity Fortnite developer Epic Games said. Fortnite is currently playable on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and iOS with an Android version of the game in the works, friendly fire is a massive component for most shooters. Many Fortnite players claim that they were being killed by their teammates for their gear or simply to troll.

Highlights

  • Friendly fire was removed from Fortnite
  • It was in Fortnite at first and is an important feature for shooters
  • Friendly fire was removed to improve user experience

“People were saying, ‘People are killing me for my stuff’ or ‘People are killing me just to troll’ or whatever it might be, but we also understood that it was an important part of the genre up to that point,” said Ben Lewis-Evans, User Experience Lead Researcher at Epic Games to Polygon. “We had a different type of game with more explosive weapons, with faster action that had come before as well. The original decision to turn it off was just an experiment. ‘Let’s turn this off, see if it is negative.’”

As detailed by Lewis-Evans, Fortnite Battle Royale’s developers theorized about how turning friendly fire off would affect other aspects of the game. What’s more is that the studio decided that if fan feedback was negative for the feature being disabled, it would be enacted once more. Should the survey data and response to the decision be positive, though, friendly fire would be removed for good. Epic’s user experience lead researcher explained the team’s thought process on the issue, saying:

“We had theories about what could be impacted by [turning friendly fire] on and off, but you can look at things like, ‘Did people play more field games? ‘Were they playing more with friends? ‘Was the number of accidental deaths going up or down? ‘How do you tell what’s a general team kill?’

“Another problem with team killing is that the player thinks it’s genuine, but it’s accidental. It doesn’t matter if they were, though, because the emotional impact still carries. If you think someone did something on purpose, it doesn’t matter if it was accidental. It affects your experience.”

According to Lewis-Evans, this form of hindering negative behavior is a means to solve disruptive playing through game design by allowing users to participate more directly in development choices through increased transparency, such as allowing them to vote on potential changes. In the case of Fortnite Battle Royale, Lewis-Evans states, “One of the good things that I’ve been a proponent of and that’s kind of been picked up is looking to game design as a solution to this rather than just reporting [players]. We turned off friendly fire and then the friendly fire toxicity problem goes away. 100 percent solved, there is no problem. That’s solving it by design.”

“If you think someone did something on purpose, it doesn’t matter if it was accidental. It affects your experience.”

Negative player behavior aside, Fortnite Battle Royale still has plenty of other issues that need to be addressed, for as the game’s success and popularity continues to grow and attract huge audiences, it will undoubtedly require fresh design choices to enable better stability and establish a greater allure across its myriad platforms. After all, not only is the free-to-play title available on PC and consoles, but also Epic Games recently launched an iOS version in limited availability that is intended to have cross-play capabilities. So, it will be interesting to see how fans will see Fortnite later on down the line as it continues to evolve.

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