Fortnite: Battle Royale’s first competitive mode is almost over. At 10:00 AM ET today, May 21, Epic Games will close out Solo Showdown and provide the final point tally, showering the grand winner with a whopping 50,000 V-Bucks. For Epic, this first competitive mode is both an event in itself and a test run–the developer is working on how to make tournaments work in the future, as well as, we assume, other kinds of ranked play. This first outing appears to have been popular so far–the developer hasn’t announced participation numbers, but judging by the sky-high point totals you need to even register even close to a leaderboard, people are interested. And if this is a test run, I have one big suggestion for how to make these things matter more in the future: let more people win. Way more people.
Right now, the game will give out rewards to the top 100 players, with the biggest rewards naturally saved for the top 10. That’s all well and good–the battle royale philosophy is all about whittling a massive pool of players down to the best of the best, and those players deserve unique recognition. The problem is, however, that it leaves the vast majority of players without anything to do. Sure, any player that completes 50 matches gets a unique spray, but that’s just a participation trophy you could secure by getting blasted seconds after landing 50 times in a row. We need something in the middle. too.
Competetive modes like this one need a way to encourage competition at all levels without losing the accomplishment that comes with placing towards the top: crowning a winner is important, after all, but you run into a problem when the number of players in genuine competition for a prize represent a miniscule rounding error next to the overall population. I don’t think Epic should shower more players in V-Bucks, but I do think that it should provide cosmetic rewards for people that clear certain point thresholds–it would be just enough to motivate a player like me to approach something like Solo Showdown with the sort of high-stakes tension it deserves.
You’d start the thresholds high because you still want these to be hard to earn, and you want players to be able to genuinely try and fail to get them–that’s the nature of competition. I’d recommend two rewards at 3,000 and 4,000 points. These would be particularly difficult to earn, so you could always throw in something at 2,000 points as well.
Here’s the thing: clearing 3,000 points in Solo Showdown is a major accomplishment, one that only talented players with patience, strategy and luck will be able to pull off. It requires, essentially, 50 places in the top 10 or somewhere in the vicinity, with some variation based on how many times you can get closer to Victory Royale and how many times you get whacked on landing. That sort of performance is a clear division between casual and hardcore, and getting 3,000 points means you are on top of the game. Clearing 4,000 points means you are one of the best Fortnite players in the world.