I will never forget the first time I played Fortnite. Before I’d even landed on the ground, I saw the player tracker already starting to count down from 100. “Wow!” I thought. “This is my first game ever and I’m not gonna finish dead last!” Aimlessly wandering the hills, I kept the player tracker in my peripheral view. Minutes were passing, and I found myself alone as players continued to drop in the dozens. By the time I finally found another player and was disposed of, I finished the game in fourth place, even though I hadn’t killed anyone. In fact, I only fired one bullet by accident in that whole match. Having played a number of matches since then, and in spite of me getting at least a bit more familiar with how it works, I haven’t reached that plateau again.
There are a lot of great things to like about Fortnite. Players really enjoy the balance between shooting and building that the game provides. It has a distinct look that appeals to a wide audience. Epic Games’ support of the title is unmatched, from the implementation of the Battle Pass, to an ever-evolving world that players are invested in. But when I think about that game, I think about the disproportionate amount of skill and effort I’ve put into the game relative to my final placings. It got me to wonder, “How much does not finishing in last place influence the player base’s enjoyment of the game?”