The role of game publishers in the emerging esports industry is becoming increasingly more controversial as arbitrary updates become the new norm, and Epic Games continued the trend before Sunday’s $100,000 WSOE Fortnite Duos tournament.
Just hours before the event kicked-off, Fortnite’s publisher pushed a game update that brought a new, potentially game-altering item called the Boom Box.
Drop the bass! Destroy enemy structures with the newest item addition to Battle Royale, the Boom Box.
Find full details on the second v7.10 Content Update in the Patch Notes: https://t.co/8LYAo9Rsbf
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) December 30, 2018
According to the update announcement, the Boom Box creates powerful blasts of music that deal structure damage in a large area. Newly built walls in the radius of the box are destroyed with every blast and opposing players must shoot it to halt its effects.
As first highlighted by esports consultant and industry leader Rod Breslau, the abrupt changes not only alter player strategy but could have had a significant impact on server lag.
Epic Games has decided on the morning of today's $100,000 WSOE Fortnite LAN tournament to add another new huge game changing item, the Boom Box. I have confirmed with WSOE the Boom Box is in today. Not only does it change the game, it might even LAG THE SERVER.
— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) December 30, 2018
Breslau went on to accuse Epic Games of intentionally releasing the update the same morning of the last major tournament of 2018.
“I remain unconvinced that showcasing new items like a sword, planes, zombies and an explosive stereo the day of major Fortnite tournaments is a net positive for the game over the widespread backlash from pro players and the community. The money must be good, Epic,” Breslau added.
As we recently reported, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban views the constant changes to units and gameplay mechanics via updates as the core issue associated with esports and player burnout, as pros are in a constant state of learning and stressing over changes to their craft. This has led Cuban to stay away from investing in any esports teams thus far.
In a tweet Sunday, Cuban added that IP considerations will likely limit the valuations of esports organizations over time, as investors will be afraid to invest in late-stage venture rounds of companies that don’t own the rights to the league or the game.
IMO, it’s because they want to be in on the ground floor of heat they hope are skyrocketing valuations comparable to NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL. Unfortunately they forgot 1 key difference, team owners own the league and it’s IP. ESports Team owners don’t.
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) December 30, 2018
Despite the industry’s massive growth in 2018, which now has the top 12 esports organizations worth almost $2 billion, the current league structures and role of publishers will likely need to be addressed before esports can justify massive organization valuations.