The nasty change to Fortnite matchmaking Epic is keeping quiet

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Fortnite on iPad with SteelSeries Nimbus
There's a big problem with Fortnite's new matchmaking system.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Fortnite finally offers skill-based matchmaking — and that’s good news for everyone. But it comes with a nasty change Epic Games didn’t mention when it first revealed the overhaul.

Here’s why lots of longtime fans are finding Battle Royale unbearable after last week’s version 10.40 update.

I was keen to point out why Fortnite’s big matchmaking changes are great for all Battle Royale players when I covered the news last week. And I still think they were necessary.

But the new system comes with a big downside Epic has been keeping quiet, and lots of players are understandably upset about it.

Fortnite’s new matchmaking system

In case you missed the news last week, Fortnite’s new system matches players with others of a similar level. That makes matchmaking a less-excruciating experience for newbies.

Prior to this change, Epic placed all players into the same matchmaking pool. It didn’t matter whether you had played 500 games or just five; you ended up in the same lobbies.

The only thing that separated players before the 10.40 update was their platform. PC players played with other PC players. Console players played with other console players. And so on.

Platform separation was hugely important. But since the matchmaking changes, it’s gone. And Epic didn’t bother to tell us it would be disappearing.

Fortnite matchmaking has a problem

So, that huge matchmaking overhaul that was supposed to fix one of Fortnite’s biggest problems introduced a brand-new one.

It is now possible for Battle Royale players on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to be matched with players on PC, mobile and Nintendo Switch — and vice-versa. That’s a big problem.

It means those playing at 30 frames-per-second on a Nintendo Switch are now trying to compete against PC players who are enjoying a super-speedy 120-plus frames-per-second.

Performance obviously isn’t the only problem. PC players also enjoy more flexibility over Fortnite settings, and the additional accuracy and customizability that comes with using a keyboard and mouse.

Why did Epic scrap platform separation?

Lots of Fortnite players have been able to confirm this change. There is growing evidence of it all over social media and the Battle Royale subreddit. And no one is happy about it.

But there might be some reasoning behind the move. It’s likely the change was made to increase the size of skill-based matchmaking pools.

Only a small number of Fortnite players put in the time and effort required to master the game. The rest of us play casually, so we’re average at best. It’s easy for average players to find a game, then, because there’s plenty of us. But it’s not so easy for the pros.

Putting all those pros together, regardless of the platform they’re playing on, might be the only way to ensure everyone can get into a game at any time. But even the best console players are going to have a painful time against those using a PC.

What now for Fortnite matchmaking?

While we may be able to see Epic’s logic, we (and most Fortnite players) don’t see this change working out. Some have gone so far as to say it will kill Battle Royale.

What can Epic do about it? Well, it’s highly unlikely it will scrap skill-based matchmaking now. It is still necessary given the size of the game, and it will make Fortnite a better experience overall.

For now, then, we can expect Epic to turn a blind eye and leave things as they are. The game-maker will ignore the community’s outrage — as it has many times in the past — and see how things play out.

If the change continues to be a big problem going forward, and has a noticeable impact on the number of people playing the game, Epic may look at other solutions later.

Fortnite season 11 drops next week

Sadly, there’s nothing we can do about it as players. There is no way to opt out of cross-platform matchmaking, though that may be one of the solutions Epic looks at later.

Fortnite season 11 is right around the corner — it kicks off next week — so we could see tweaks to matchmaking then. In the meantime, we have no choice but to accept it.