Fortnite’s siphon and material changes are here to stay

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

Epic Games received some noticeable backlash last month with Fortnite update v8.20, and now the developer has responded to those complaints.

About a month ago, Epic Games released update v8.20 for Fortnite, rolling back changes implemented even further back with v7.40 during a few Pop-up Cups. Essentially, the update reverted the game back to pre-Siphon, a mechanic that granted health and shields to a player for eliminations. It also decreased harvesting speed by 40 percent, back to its original rate, while also increasing the cap for materials back to 999 (from 500).

The rollback was met with widespread criticism, especially from the game’s most competitive players. Or maybe the blowback wasn’t as large as one would assume.

In a recent competitive development update from Epic Games, the developer addressed the recent update and revealed that the Pop-up Cup actually resulted in fewer people playing Fortnite‘s core modes.

Epic explained that Siphon was originally introduced to encourage aggressive play in competitive play, where “the pressure of intense broadcast competition” often leads to “less aggression in the early game resulting in a crowded end-game overabundant in turtling.” So the change was made to encourage early aggressive play in an effort to “increase entertainment value and spectacle.” But the change has some unintended consequences.

"Everybody enjoyed receiving health and shields for eliminations after we introduced the changes to the core modes, but there was an unexpected consequence: players at large grew more frustrated with Fortnite play, feeling they had less of a chance due to encounters with high-skill players with full health and shields. Ultimately, Siphon increased engagement for the highest-skilled 10%, while the remaining 90% were more frustrated and played less."

The result was fewer players engaging in Fortnite‘s core modes simply because it wasn’t enjoyable. With Epic’s goal with Fortnite to provide “a fun game that’s inclusive of all players, and provides everyone with a real chance of winning,” the developer found that Siphone often rewarded the higher-skilled players.

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While most online games with eSports tie-ins tend to balance based on the competitive scene, it’s interesting that Epic Games is focused first on creating a game that appeals to as many people as possible. While popular online streamers and competitive players have complained that the updates have made Fortnite a worse game overall, it appears — based on Epic’s own findings — that the opposite is true.

And let’s face it, while we all want to think of ourselves as amazing players, the truth is most of us are just casuals compared to online streamers and pros. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just the truth. As it turns out, the truth is that most of Fortnite‘s player base wants to just have fun, not get aggressively hunted down by better players.

While it looks like the changes will stay as they are, Epic points out that Fortnite‘s always-available Arena mode still offers the Siphon and material cap changes.