Psyonix announced in a blog today that its car soccer game Rocket League will be leaving loot boxes behind in a move aimed at “creating the best possible experience for our players all over the world.”
The change will happen sometime before the end of the year with a new system coming in to replace the game’s existing randomized lottery. Instead of earning loot boxes by playing and then having the option of purchasing keys to open them up and see what’s inside, Pysonix says the new system will show players exactly what they’re buying upfront. The studio compared the new system to changes that happened in Fortnite: Save the World earlier this year.
Back in January, Epic Games announced Save The World’s V-Buck Llamas would be changed to X-Ray Llamas which let players see what’s inside. If they don’t like what they see, they can wait until the next day when the virtual shop updates and check again. In addition, Epic made some other changes, like making sure the Llamas no longer give out duplicate items. Now that Psyonix is owned by Epic Games, which purchased the studio in May, it’s not surprising that Rocket League will follow a similar trend.
Psyonix declined to comment further when Kotaku reached out.
Loot boxes have never been a part of Fortnite Battle Royale, which instead uses a battle pass system where players pay a one-time seasonal fee and then grind for their rewards. Many other online games have subsequently adopted battle passes, including Rocket League, which got its first seasonal battle pass last October.
Rocket League didn’t always have loot boxes, either. Those were added back in September 2016 when other games, like the then recently released Overwatch, were having a lot of success with them. At the time, Psyonix pitched them as a way to help fund its burgeoning competitive esports league, which debuted in early 2016 and will enter its eighth season this fall. It also allowed players to trade items with one another, which on one hand helped give players more control over the process but also left it open to black market forces and made the entire thing feel even more like gambling.
It’s too early to say if the new system will ultimately be an improvement, but there are plenty of better ways to dole out rewards in games than loot boxes. It’s good to see Rocket League will soon be moving away from that system.
Oobletsis one of those games that just oozes effortless charm. It’s not even out yet, but the gooey, chewy mash up of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Pokémon has already earned its fair share of salivating admirers. Today, the game’s developers announced that, on PC, Ooblets will be an Epic Games Store exclusive. In an attempt to meet the inevitable backlash head on, they explained their rationale in exhaustive detail.
Developer Glumberland’s exclusivity announcement post is a mixture of frank and tongue-in-cheek. “This is exactly what Marx warned us about!” designer Ben Wasser wrote to kick it off. “Just imagine if other companies got it in their head to offer funding in exchange for exclusives. What’d be next? Game consoles paying for games to be exclusive on their consoles? Netflix paying for exclusive shows? Newspapers paying for exclusive articles? It’d be some sort of late capitalist dystopia.”
Wasser then settled into a more serious discussion, explaining that Epic offered the studio a minimum guarantee on sales “that would match what we’d be wanting to earn if we were just selling Ooblets across all the stores,” which takes the looming existential uncertainty associated with modern game development off the table. This also means the game’s two-person development team can hire an additional programmer and “ramp up our development resources,” but it might delay Ooblets’ early access launch because “it takes some time to ramp things up and because we won’t have as much financial pressure to prematurely shove something we’re not happy with out the door.”
Wasser then moved on to the elephant—or most elephant-like Ooblet—in the room: the volcano of vitriol that erupts on every studio that signs an exclusivity deal with Epic. He prefaced it by saying that he doesn’t “expect much of our uniquely-lovely community to fit into this weird anti-Epic contingent,” but went on to use that as a launchpad for a discussion of common complaints against the Epic Games Store. First up, he addressed the store’s well-documented lack of features like social tools, achievements, wishlists, and user reviews, saying that software development takes time, and that Steam, in particular, took 15 years to get where it is today. “I’m sure there’s a team of folks working on launcher features for EGS, but their work depends on the platform being worthwhile from a market-share perspective to keep going,” Wasser wrote.
He also took aim at the commonly-held belief that it’s “anti-consumer” to have exclusives, reiterating what many have pointed out before: Epic’s client is free to download, as opposed to a subscription-based platform like HBO, Netflix, Hulu, or anything else along those lines. “It’s more like just having to press a button on your remote to change between free TV channels,” he said.
People, he noted, sometimes even go so far as to threaten piracy in reaction to Epic exclusivity shifts. Wasser is not a fan of that approach. “Feeling like you’re owed the product of other people’s work on your terms or else you’ll steal it is the epitome of that word ‘entitlement’ that people use to discuss immature, toxic gamers,” he said.
He closed things out with an attempt at putting it all in perspective, saying that while seeking out reasons to be angry and venting anger is “cathartic and natural,” there are other things in the world that might be “just a tad more worthwhile to be upset about.” He specifically pointed to climate change, human rights abuses, the new Twitter desktop UI, and the last season of Game of Thrones before clarifying—because this is the internet—that the last two things were of course jokes.
“So let’s remember that this is all low-stakes video game stuff we’re dealing with here,” he said. “Nothing to get worked up about.”
A relative minority of people, however, have piped up to say that they understand where the Ooblets team is coming from.
“Screw folks who get mad here,” one person wrote in response to the announcement. “Get paid, don’t shut down as a studio. You make good games, and the folks that are mad would be madder if you shut down tomorrow. They can handle having to buy from another store.”
The event that competitive Fortnite players have been waiting for finally gets underway today at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, New York. Hundreds of pros will be present at the three-day Fortnite World Cup, and thousands or millions more will be watching. When all is said and done a few will end up a whole lot richer.
The event will begin with an opening ceremony at 12:30 p.m. ET. Nobody knows what Epic has planned for it. There could be dancers. A new mode might get announced. Maybe Lil Nas X will show up and perform a special new Fortnite remix of “Old Town Road.”
Here’s the rest of the schedule for the Fortnite World Cup:
The Creative Finals will take place at 1:00 p.m. showcasing the talents of Ninja, Faze Cizzorz, and other big names as try to overcome unique challenges in custom game modes.
The Celebrity Pro-Am begins at 4:00 p.m. featuring teams made up of Fortnite celebrities alongside actual pro players competing for a share of the $3 million prize pool to be donated to the charity of their choosing. Big names involved in this portion of the World Cup include WWE star Xavier Woods and actor Dante Basco, best known for playing Rufio in the 1991 movie Hook.
Saturday, July 27, is when the competitive side of the tournament begins, starting with the Duos Finals preshow at 12:30 p.m., followed by the main event at 1:00 p.m., capped off by the winners ceremony at 4:45 p.m. The best 50 teams from around the world will compete across six matches with the pair who get the best record being crowned the champs.
Sunday follows a similar schedule for the solo matches. The preshow kicks off at 12:30 p.m. followed by the finals at 1:00 p.m. and the finals winners ceremony wrapping up the entire three-day event at 4:45 p.m. Only 100 players from the 40 million who tried to qualify over the last few months will be playing in the final battle royale.
In these days of rampant data mining, few things are ever truly surprises. Even Fortnite’s seemingly endless parade of (often literal) bashes isn’t immune, with big moments like the Tilted-Towers-leveling Vault event getting spoiled before players could experience them firsthand. This weekend, though, longtime leakers—people with the word “leak” front and center in their handles—have decided to try a different approach: no leaks.
For people who’ve made their names off disseminating datamined Fortnite leaks, this might seem counterintuitive. But across Twitter, big-name leakers have said they won’t be inundating the internet in details of this weekend’s event, which will likely focus on a battle between a giant Voltron-ass mech and a sea monster.
“Me and some other leakers have talked and came to a conclusion we won’t leak the event one or two hours before the event starts,” FortTory—Fortnite Leaks & News, a leaker with nearly Twitter 100,000 followers, said yesterday on Twitter. “Let’s just keep it a surprise. Hereby I call up all the leakers, keep it for once a surprise and enjoy the event!”
In an email, FortTory told Kotaku that this event is different than many that came before, with developer Epic’s encryption functioning such that the event will still be leakable, but not until shortly before it goes live. At that point, goes the rationale, why leak it at all?
“Many people tell me: ‘You’re a leaker, you are supposed to leak everything when you can,’” FortTory said. “But this is the first time Epic Games almost fully has encrypted an event and keeps it all a big surprise. Let’s keep it a surprise. After I thought of the idea of not leaking the event, I contacted other leakers such as Lucas7yoshi, Hypex, and many more, and asked them what they thought about the idea. And they all agreed.”
The process underlying these leaks is complicated, requiring actions on Epic’s part before data is accessible to interested parties. FortTory explained how it all works, using the robot that’s been constructed in stages ahead of this event as an example.
“The robot stages were all encrypted in different pak files,” they said. “To take a look in these files, we need a key, an AES Key, and these keys got released around one or two hours before a stage came into the game, because Fortnite had to load these parts. The event is also encrypted, and Epic also has to load the event before it will happen, which causes the release of the AES Key, which we need to look in the files. We aren’t 100 percent sure if it will be one or two hours before the event. It could also be 30 minutes before, just like with the Marshmello event.”
A smaller leaker, XTigerHyperX, told Kotaku that it’s not just about keeping regular players’ imaginations unsullied; they, too, want to go in (mostly) blind this time.
“Me and a lot of leakers [have] been talking about the event, and we actually wanted to see how it feels like when we watch the event without knowing anything about it and let everyone enjoy this experience without getting the event spoiled for anyone,” XTigerHyperX said in a Twitter DM.
XTigerHyperX also pointed to what they see as the downside of event leaks, using the Vault event leak as an example. “It ruins everything,” they said. “People start watching the event, and they are not excited—like nothing is happening.”
Leakers didn’t arrive at this conclusion without friction. When some first started talking about the Great Leak Prohibition of 2019 yesterday, others were miffed.
“I mean, where was I on this?” asked TSG, a smaller Fortnite leaker, on Twitter. “I was never told nor asked about this… My point with this is that people follow us for leaks. If they don’t want to see it, then don’t follow us is my stance.”
There are, however, numerous Fortnite leakers, so not everybody’s on the same page. The leakers who’ve temporarily sworn off leaking all agree that somebody’s bound to poke holes in this event’s hull, too. Anti-leak leakers have suggested that these pro-leak leakers avoid putting spoilers in thumbnails or include a keyword with their tweets—something like “eventspoiler”—so people can mute them if they want.
This isn’t the end for the time-honored art of Fortnite leaking, of course. Even many of the folks who refuse to spoil this event are still doing drip-feeds of info on new cosmetics and other less-earthshaking additions. As for what’ll happen when future events roll around—or emerge from the sea and punch the crap out of each other, as it were—that’s still up in the air.
“We are not sure yet,” said XTigerHyperX. “Let’s see how this affects the game. Then we will decide if we are going to leak the future events or not. Or maybe we will just leak only a few simple files for creating more hype without spoiling the event.”
“We don’t know what the future will give us, but this event is the big ending of a season 9, and it would be a shame to spoil it and kinda ruin it so close to the event,” said FortTory. “If we in the future would get a similar situation, I would do the same. It’s time to respect the work Epic Games puts into these big live events and not spoil it.”
Fortnite Battle Royale is having a tie-in event with the movie John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, offering a limited time mode and sleek new skins. The mode, called Wick’s Bounty, doesn’t feel like it has much to do with John Wick—who I once saw kill three men in a bar with a pencil—but it is packed with more than enough gunfights to spice up your Fortnite matches.
Considering how much of a one-man army the titular assassin is in his films, I thought a John Wick-inspired mode would play something like Fortnite’s recent limited time Avengers mode against Thanos. Would one person get to be Wick, blazing a path through the rest of the pack with intense gun tricks? Not quite. Wick’s Bounty is a team mode with limited respawn and a unique scoring system. Killing players earns tokens, and the goal is to collect a set amount of them. As teams amass coins, the top three teams’ locations become visible on the map. If you want to get the most coins, it’s best to target the top dogs and steal all their coins.
There’s the possibility for tactical decisions, deciding if you should chase top teams right away or leapfrog off the progress of other squads, stealing their coins to keep a modest pace. Knowing where some of your enemies are means that it’s possible to set up for ambush or cut them off as they traverse the map. That didn’t happen for me much, at least while playing with random squadmates. Instead, matches tended to sprawl out into large, multi-squad battles. You keep your weapons when you die, so respawning continues the chaos. It’s fun, since Fortnite is fun, but it didn’t necessarily need to be tied into a Parabellum’s promotional marketing. You could call it Crazy Coin Carnage or something and it really wouldn’t make that much of a difference.
The most direct tie-in with John Wick is the addition of a John Wick skin and special sledgehammer in the Item Shop. (A hotel in Tilted Towers is now a Continental establishment as well.) The sledgehammer is a sly nod to a scene in John Wick where John smashes into a hidden compartment to grab gear for his rampage against some dog-killing mobster jerks. The John Wick skin bears Keanu Reeves’ likeness and has two different appearances: smooth and disheveled. It’s a curious piece of marketing: One of Fortnite’s earlier skins was a suit-wearing man called the Reaper. He had a bushier beard but was a clear reference to John Wick. Now, players can just be Wick… if they are willing to spend 2,000 V Bucks. (2,500 V Bucks costs around $25 dollars, for a sense of how much that is.)
In terms of capturing the feel of a John Wick film, Wick’s Bounty doesn’t really cut it besides giving everyone a nice suit. However, it’s still enjoyable on its own. There’s chances to enact sneaky strategies, and knowing where the top team is invariably draws players into huge gunfights. It’s mostly standard Fortnite fare, but it’s still enjoyable.
Epic Games’ store has announced its own take on the Steam Summer Sale—the latest spoonful of Steam’s game-selling pie that Epic has shoveled directly into its mouth. The move comes over a month before Steam typically offers its famous Summer Sale.
The Epic Mega Sale, launched today, is discounting games up to 75 percent. Right now, Oxenfree, Transistor, Subnautica, The Witness, and What Remains of Edith Finch are selling for half to a quarter of their original prices. Slime Rancher and Super Meat Boy are just $5. Items that cost more than $15, like the Borderlands 3 preorder, are all getting at least $10 off.
The store smartly got ahead of Steam’s Summer Sale—that sacred time of the year when gamers splurge on several $5 or $10 PC games they’d been waiting to play or seem kind of cool. Last year’s Steam Summer sale gave 40 to 50 percent off on games like Terraria, Gorogoa and Ni No Kuni 2, and nearly 70 percent for Grand Theft Auto 5. The competing stores’ sales on indie games are similar. Steam last year offered big-interest indies like Firewatch and Undertale for $5. Yet because Steam has traditionally sold more big budget games like Nioh or Nier: Automata, a lot of users might be biding their time for June’s Steam’s Summer Sale and crossing their fingers.
Since the Epic Store launched late last year, it’s been making big waves in the PC gaming market without approximating Steam’s market share of games. Developers seem taken by the store’s promise to skim just 12 percent off games’ sales as opposed to Steam’s 30. Also, the Epic store has promised “a quality standard that doesn’t accept any crappy games,” citing “porngames or bloatware or asset flips”—a direct contrast to Steam’s “come as you are” approach to curation.
As the months went on, Epic locked down triple-A exclusives like Metro: Exodus, The Division 2 and Borderlands3. Longtime Steam devotees have complained that moving over to the Epic store means leaving behind Steam’s whole ecosystem of communities, friend lists and other social features. Currently, the Epic store is barebones.
If its sale proves tempting enough, Epic might lure over more couple Steam stalwarts. Yet even as it rolls out its Epic Mega Sale, the Epic Games Store doesn’t have a shopping cart; so despite all the delightful price-slashings, it won’t be the same as stuffing a half-dozen wildcard games into your bag and hoping for the best.
Last weekend, a vault opened beneath Loot Lake in Fortnite. Players were given the option of bringing back one of the game’s previously retired weapons. They chose the Drum Gun, one of the most overpowered weapons in the game’s history. Then, on Thursday, Epic announced the Drum Gun would be coming to the game’s tournament playlist starting this weekend, much to the frustration of some of the game’s most competitive players.
“You can expect to see the Drum Gun in this weekend’s Tournament playlist,” Epic Games said. “In the v9.00 update today we’ve adjusted the spawn rate of the Drum Gun to be more in line with other similar items. We will be closely monitoring feedback over the Season launch to determine any next steps.”
Many users on the game’s competitive subreddit believe this signals a reprisal/return to the “spray and pray” meta that got popular last summer when the Drum Gun was first introduced. The weapon’s combination of damage, accuracy, and rate of fire made it a boon to more casual players, but it’s unclear why it would be introduced onto playlists dedicated to ranked play.
“It’s starting to get ridiculous with the drum gun being added back and shotguns being nerfed,” wrote one person on the subreddit. “The game is not fun anymore when you’re trying to make each fight almost like a coin flip.”
The move has also opened up questions about if and when the Drum Gun will begin to play a part in Fortnite’s ongoing World Cup tournament. “The Drum Gun will not appear in the Fortnite World Cup Online Open this weekend,” Epic tweeted following the announcement of the patch notes. That phrasing seems to leave open the possibility that it could become a factor in later weeks, or potentially in the finals in the summer.
The company also said it plans to look at adding new competitive modes for the Fortnite World Cup once the open qualifiers have finished up. “In the weeks leading up to the Fortnite World Cup Finals, we’ll be experimenting with adding additional non-Battle Royale events, such as Creative modes and LTMs, to our weekly tournament rotation,” Epic said. “This will open up a more dynamic competitive scene that allows for more paths to win.”
Rapid change like this is nothing new for Fortnite, but it is uncommon in the wider world of esports. The studios behind other major competitive games like Overwatch and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive have made a point of keeping the meta stable in the lead-up to big events. Epic, on the other hand, seems intent on marching to the beat of its own Drum Gun.
Week five of the Fortnite World Cup open qualifiers gets underway on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. ET with the semi-finals before resuming on Sunday at the same time for this week’s finals with everything streaming live on the Fortnite Twitch channel.
Fortnite Battle Royale’s season nine has transformed the game’s world once again, with a futuristic Tilted Towers and trippy, robotic character outfits. It’s also brought balance changes, including the curious decision to retire one of the game’s oldest weapons. The pump shotgun is going in the vault, and it’s a reminder that nothing really lasts in Fortnite.
The pump shotgun was vaulted, or removed from the game, with a handful of other items, such as balloons and the scoped revolver. The pump shotgun has been in the game since launch, and it’s currently proven popular in the competitive endgame. Epic explained their decision to vault it today, writing
“We want the beginning of each Season to feel fresh and allow for a new gameplay experience along with all the new Seasonal content… Specifically when it comes to Pump Shotguns, they stand out significantly: they currently account for over 26% of eliminations in default playlists, with the next weapon type not even coming close. Rather than nerfing the Pump Shotgun to a point where it no longer lives up to its fantasy, our preference is to return it to the vault, giving us an opportunity to revisit the general balance of the item, while introducing a new shotgun.”
Fortnite’s evolving nature is both the key to its success and a weakness. On one side of the equation, it’s created long-lasting metanarratives that alter the game map and capture player interest. This is the game that gave us a massive rocket launch, the ever transforming Tilted Towers and its unluckiest building, and a giant alien cube fans affectionately dubbed Kevin. Its ongoing mixture of pseudo-ARG storytelling and events intersecting with the real world have helped Fortnite dominate the battle royale scene even as competitors like Apex Legends arrived. There is always something happening in Fortnite, always some type of event that you don’t want to miss out on. The world changes, and you’d certainly be left out of conversations if you missed it.
While Fortnite’s shifting narrative and world captivate players, the game itself is a churn of content that is increasingly ephemeral. Special events such as the dogfighting Air Royale or promotional Avenger modes cycle through and disappear. Mechanics are tweaked and removed as needed, and weapons are constantly thrown into the vault. This nowhere-land has sucked up, at one time or another, the controversial Infinity Blade, the guided missile launcher, and (for a time) the powerful Drum Gun. It seemed that for every new addition, a game-breaking issue is found or the balance gets thrown so off that items are retired almost as soon as they arrive. For all the player talk of best practices for building forts and tactics for countering foes, Fortnite has eluded a true metagame. Everything is awesome until it’s not. All things are sacred until they’re chucked into the vault.
This is part of what made the pump shotgun so special. In a game that is constantly changing, it was the closest thing Fortnite had to a constant. The sort of surety is a powerful thing. If you played Fortnite before today, chances are you’ve started a match, found a pump shotgun and used it to feverishly fend off a few foes. Other weapons might be more fun, or more impressive, or more flexible, but the pump shotgun got the job done.
That’s what makes the decision to place it in the vault such a surprise. This was a reliable weapon. It may sound strange to eulogize a digital shotgun, but in a cultural phenomenon like Fortnite things often take on larger meaning. It’s a shotgun, yeah. It could sometimes be a sub-optimal starter weapon, but it’s been there since the start. Always along for the ride. In a sea of churning content and oft-broken additions, that means something.
Earlier this week, Fortnite pro Damion “XXiF” Cook was accused of colluding with other players during a World Cup open qualifier match in which he took second place, earning $4,000 in prize money and a spot in the eventual finals this summer in New York. In a statement, XXiF denied any wrongdoing, but that hasn’t stopped calls for him to be banned amid a climate in which fears about cheating are running rampant.
On April 29, another pro player by the name of HighSky shared a clip on Twitter of the beginning of a match in which XXiF drops into the same area as two other players, “Bad and Wuji” and “gestyy.” The footage shows Bad and Wuji hitting the ground near XXiF and beginning to pickaxe a chest rather than immediately pick up a nearby gun on the ground and find cover.
After XXiF makes short work of him, gestyy, who has seen the two fighting, decides to drop into the same area. Gestyy reaches for a low quality gun, then appears to fire at a wall before XXiF finishes him off as well. In the video, HighSky suggests the two players purposefully made themselves easy targets for XXiF because they lacked enough points in the rankings to have a shot at qualification themselves.
“Some really good [plays] from XXiF though on two insanely talented players that were not in the running anymore,” he said. He went on to share clipsfrom two previous matches which appear to show Bad and Wuji and gestyy being similarly eliminated all too easily.
The clips went viral, blowing up on social media as well as the Competitive Fortnite subreddit, where many called on Epic Games to investigate and ban XXiF for appearing to team up with other players in a game that’s integrity relies on everyone fighting equally hard to be the winner.
On April 30, XXiF posted a statement on Twitter denying the charges, saying that while he was friends with Bad and Wuji, gestyy was just a random fan and none of what happened in the video was in any way planned. “I had no idea he was going to land there and have no control over where he chooses to land, but in 1 out of the 10 games I played he chose to land in the same spot as me,” XXiF wrote. “I can’t speak for the second guy, as I would never land on two people fighting – it’s something I can’t comprehend or put reason/meaning to.”
Bad and Wuji also released a statement on Twitter trying to explain the bizarre encounter, chalking it up to poor decision making and a bug that prevented him from immediately picking up the gun when he first tried to. “Please stop slandering my name,” he wrote. “I’m tired of these threats and messages going around when I’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t waste my time anymore with this bs.”
Lots of Fortnite players remain unconvinced, though. A post last night on the Competitive Fortnite subreddit linked to a video showing XXiF playing a random match while on a team with gestyy, seeming to contradict XXiF’s claims that he and gestyy weren’t friends in any way.
Unlike banning people for using aimbots to gain a competitive advantage, teaming up requires a more subjective analysis. The World Cup rules define collusion as players working together to deciever or otherwise cheat other players, including by agreeing to land in specific locations, communicating in some way, or intentionally dropping items for opposing players to pick up. Given how much the existing allegations against XXiF rely on assumptions about what kinds of decisions talented players should and would make in various circumstances, it’s both easy for conspiracy theories to multiply and hard to arrive at any sort of definitive answer.
That’s part of the difficulty in running an over $30 million, multi-month tournament for a relatively young esport without much infrastructure in place. In addition to how many open qualifier matches take place each weekend in the lead up to the finals event in July, the battle royale genre in general, and Fortnite in particular, is especially messy to regulate. Every match contains 100 players making moment-to-moment decisions about where to find better equipment, when to fight, and when to run. Unlike other battle royales, Fortnite also includes building, exponentially increasing the number of ways a player can react to any given situation. Any sort of cheating related to match fixing can be difficult to root out, but Fortnite provides many more layers to sort through.
On April 19, Epic announced that it had caught 1,163 cheaters in just the first week of open qualifier matches. We’re now headed into only week four of ten. Every week consists of three hours of play across two separate days, with the top competitors from the first sticking around to compete on the second. The top scoring players on the second day not only earn spots in the World Cup, they also take home thousands in cash prizes. Even once a player has qualified, they can continue competing, and why wouldn’t they with the chance to win more money on the line. With so many matches, so many players, and so many different motivations going into matches, there are all sorts of opportunities for untoward behavior. Perhaps it’s not entirely shocking that one of the community’s pastimes during the lead up to the World Cup now revolves around trying to find and call out instances of cheating.
Epic has not yet publicly weighed in on whether it’s currently reviewing the case involving XXiF and did not respond to a request for comment.
For months, an unspecified number of users trying to register an account with Epic Games have found that their e-mail addresses were somehow already linked to accounts. Today, Epic Games told Kotaku that the culprit is an ongoing cyber attack and that the company is working to delete those accounts, though they would not say how many people were affected.
“I recently went to create an Epic Games account,” a tipster named Ed wrote in an e-mail last week. “And I found that I already had an account. I never made an account.” Ed went on to detail how an account using his e-mail address was registered in Thailand. It was the same e-mail he had used on his Xbox account. After going online, Ed noticed that dozens of other users had complained of this on the Epic Games forums and on Reddit. It had happened to one of his friends, too. In a screenshot Ed shared, his friend’s username appeared as tNpPldH7g—total nonsense.
Epic Games notes in an “account linking” FAQ that an e-mail address can only be associated with one Epic account. On the Epic Games forum, one concerned parent wrote last June that their son wanted to link his PlayStation Network account to his Epic Games account so he can play Fortnite on his PS4, however, when they tried, they received the error message “Failed to link account. Already associated with a different account.” Commenters with the same problem went on to note that that they had difficulty receiving a straight answer from Epic about what was going on.
Over e-mail today, Epic Games explained. “We recently discovered an ongoing attack which is creating Epic accounts using known email addresses via a botnet spanning over 500,000 machines,” a spokesperson said. “We are in the process of deleting those accounts and are adding further verification steps to account creation.”
It’s not clear why these cyber-attackers would want to create Epic accounts based on other people’s email addresses. Kotaku reached out to two former Fortnite account hackers to ask why somebody would create Epic accounts in this way. Neither could explain.
Today, news broke on Reddit that some details for about 600 Epic Games accounts were leaked online as plain text. When Kotaku asked whether Epic Games’ account linking issue was associated with this leak, a spokesperson pointed us to Epic’s response to the initial Reddit thread, from an Epic engineer: “The account system powering Epic Games store and Fortnite have not been compromised. Specific individual accounts have been compromised as a result of numerous automated attempts by hackers to try to log in to Epic Games accounts using email/password combinations leaked through security breaches on other web sites.” The incidents do not appear to be linked.