Epic Games is trying to combat in-game toxicity in Fortnite Battle Royale by getting rid of friendly fire. The game launched with friendly fire active, but players reported they were being killed by their own teammates for items.
According to a Polygon interview with Epic Games’ user experience lead researcher, Ben Lewis-Evans, the original decision to turn it off was just an experiment. If the team received negative responses, they would bring it back.
Lewis-Evans said: “We had theories about what could be impacted by turning friendly fire on and of. 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?’”
A problem whilst assessing friendly fire was if the team killing was genuine or accidental. “If you think someone did something on purpose, it doesn’t matter if it was accidental. It affects your experience,” explained Lewis-Evans.
Lewis-Evans wants to solve disruptive playing using game design. He wants to get away from relying on player reports and involve players more directly in game design decisions, including allowing them to vote on potential changes. Lewis-Evans even started the Fair Play Alliance, which is a collaboration of over 30 games companies aiming to combat toxic behavior in games.
Fortnite recently smashed Twitch viewer records when Canadian rapper Drake and streamer Ninja teamed up to play the game, but the game would have gone completely differently if friendly fire had been active. Fortnite has also been at the forefront of the video games addiction controversy, with TV shows on both sides of the Atlantic debating the topic.