Fortnite’s last season caused quite a stir: developer Epic Games removed building, arguably the game’s most iconic feature, from the main battle royale modes. It was a risky move that could diminish interest in the game. Instead, it seems to have had the opposite effect, especially for some major streamers.
Not everyone was on board with what Epic now calls Zero Build mode. “At first I hated it and I was absolutely furious,” Michael “The Fierce Diva” Reynolds, a Facebook Gaming streamer, told me in an interview. “Because I play the game so much, the way people judge my skills is due to how I build and edit and stuff like that. But my movement and all that stuff, I’m not very good at that.”
Reynolds was not alone. “I thought I was going to hate it at first,” Twitch streamer Ali “SypherPK” Hassan told me. “I thought maybe I’d make a few videos about it and then go back to normal build mode.”
But both have since been added. “Once I got used to the way you would move around the map without the builds, I had a lot of respect and appreciation for it,” said Reynolds. “I had such a great time playing that game,” Hassan said. It’s not just those two; I’ve seen a lot of streamers who hadn’t played much Fortnitelike DrLupo, TimTheTatman, Nickmercs and Tfue, jump into the game again.
Removing buildings also makes the game more accessible, Hassan argued. †Fortnite slowly became inaccessible to new players,” he said. “Anyone interested in playing semi-seriously was just destroyed by people with years of experience building and assembling.” You just have to look a little Fortnite’s official competitive matches to see how well high-level players can build, and in my experience, draining the time that experts build immediately can drain.
Both Reynolds and Hassan have seen a lot of interest in Zero Build mode. Reynolds told me that at one point when he was playing Fortnite’s Arena mode, what did not losing building, “people were so excited not to see a build and to see streamers creating content around what I had made a hit with that day.” Now that building is back in non-competitive battle royale, Reynolds says he spends about three-quarters of a stream in build mode, then switches to Zero Build. “I really like mixing it up.”
Hassan’s team shared some stats showing how the new mode led to more viewers, and he apparently saw a 30.3 percent increase in average viewership during the first week of this season compared to the first week of Chapter 2 Season 8 (His team doesn’t share stats comparing the most recent season, Chapter 3, Season 1, because it involved a massive, island-changing overhaul, meaning the numbers were more inflated than they normally would be.) Twitch told me. me also that the first week of the new season watched about 23 million hours — the highest Fortnite watch time on Twitch in over a year.
While the Zero Build mode was popular, it’s unclear whether Epic plans to keep it in the game after this season. I asked both streamers if they think Zero Build will continue. “I want to say I do that because I think I want to,” Reynolds said. “As long as people stay [enjoy it]I don’t see why it wouldn’t last. And I hope it stays, personally.”
Hassan said that if Epic leaves the mode as it is and as a separate mode that won’t be updated, “I think people will eventually get tired of it and want more. I don’t think it can last more than a season in its current state.” last.” But he also talked to me about the intriguing potential for a hybrid of the build and no-build modes. “I think like Fortnite smart, they’ll be willing to experiment even more and possibly some kind of limited thing or skill-based build where you just push one button and it builds a box or a bridge and you can still have those construction mechanics,” he said.
I also asked both streamers what makes Fortnite stand out now that building is not required.
†Fortnite has a great foundation compared to other traditional battle royale games on the market,” Reynolds said in an email. He said it’s easy to move around the map and also pick up weapons, which has been improved by the addition of mechanics like sliding and sprinting “I think Fortnite shows the industry that building doesn’t have to be as exciting as it once was.” And during our conversation he talked about: Fortnite‘s impressive cadence of weekly updates, sometimes adding new mechanics and locations.
Hassan argued that building was key to the initial success of Fortnite“But what people need to realize is that Fortnite has come a long way since then.” He brought up the many collaborations with franchises such as Marvel and DC and the addition of Creative mode that allows people to create their own experiences. He also mentioned the regular updates: “A regular Fortnite update on any tuesday could possibly be similar to a whole new season [for] another battle royale.”
In an email after the interview, Hassan indicated that viewership remained high. “My chat really enjoys Zero Build and our viewership is even surpassing our recent peaks,” he said. †Fortnite with Zero Build maybe not at its previous peak, but it sure feels like we’re getting there. †