Epic Games has promised fixes to remedy early frustrations with Fortnite’s newly introduced age ratings system, which has left players frustrated after many popular cosmetics have become unusable in certain parts of the game in order to meet ratings requirements.
Last month bought the news Epic would be introducing individual age ratings for all playable first- and third-party content in Fortnite as part of what it called its evolution into a “multi-game ecosystem”. Epic is, of course, currently trying to expand the reach of Fortnite by placing a greater focus on Roblox-style user-generated experiences build using its recently released Creative 2.0 tools, and the game’s latest update means all these experiences now come with age ratings, starting at E for Everyone and going through E10+ up to Teen.
So far, so sensible. The problem is the seemingly haphazard way all this has been implemented in a game that has, up until now, been exclusively rated Teen. Essentially, as of Fortnite’s latest update, every single bit of content in-game, including all cosmetics, now has its own age rating – and players are being prevented from accessing Creative mode experiences if they’re wearing anything flagged as age-inappropriate. It doesn’t help either, that seemingly benign cosmetics skins – a muscular cartoon cat, for instance – are rated Teen-only and considered unsuitable for children, while others, such as Halloween’s Michael Myers are rated a-okay for the young ‘uns.
The culprit, in that particular case, appears to be the Meowscles skin’s holstered gun, but the Fortnite subreddit is already combing through the thousands of cosmetics in-game and identifying a whole range of apparent inconsistencies in the rules. Basically, players are frustrated that, in a game pretty much designed from the ground up to encourage the purchase of expensive skins for bragging rights, the expensive skins they’ve purchased are suddenly unusable in significant chunks of the game. And things get even weirder when you factor in the suddenly blocked music and loadings screens which are never even seen by other players.
As frustrations have continued to mount throughout the day, with some players lamenting the ‘Robloxification’ of Fortnite at the expense of its traditional battle royale mode, Epic has moved to downplay the update’s impact. “Today, about 7% of Fortnite Outfits can only be equipped in islands rated Teen (or regional equivalent),” it wrote in a statement on its website. “Over the next year we will 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.”
In response to Epic’s statement, players have reasonably posited it might have been better to implement the auto-adjust feature before rushing in with the age ratings update, but it seems likely Epic simply wasn’t willing to wait the 12 months that might take when its Creative mode plans seem so critical to the future of the game. Back in September, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney admitted Fortnite’s return to growth had primarily been spurred on by its creator content, in the same email in which he revealed the company was “far short of financial sustainability” and confirmed “around 830 employees” would lose their jobs.