×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The shady way Fortnite broke a Twitch record

Fortnite, the iconic battle royale shooter from Epic Games, recently broke the Twitch record for most concurrent viewers. An event called "The Device," which blew up and sank the island that the previous season of Fortnite took place on, at one point had 2.3 million people watching on Twitch at the same time. That huge number shattered the previous Twitch record of 1.7 million, held by the 2019 League of Legends world championship, and once again crowned Fortnite as the king of video games.

Well, sort of.

See, there's a catch here⁠, because this impressive feat was done under some questionable circumstances. Epic Games capped the event at 12 million participants, which might sound like a lot. But that number was reached in less than a minute. Epic opened the Device event at 1:30 p.m. ET, a half-hour before it started. By 1:31 p.m. ET, Epic had announced that it wasn't allowing anyone else in.

The announcement suggested that players who wanted to watch the event do so on Twitch, Mixer, or YouTube. That's undoubtedly how Fortnite got the record-breaking number of viewers that it did. But it also raises the issue that, unlike the LoL world championship, many of those viewers were only watching because they couldn't participate themselves. If everyone who wanted to had been able to get into the event, it's totally possible — likely, even — that LoL's record of 1.7 million would still stand untouched.

Fortnite fans were understandably frustrated at getting locked out. The event had been delayed more than once already. Waiting for weeks just to be denied entry because they joined the queue "only" half an hour ahead of time must have felt like a serious slap in the face, and the response confirms it. The tweets directed at Fortnite's Twitter account during the event were mostly from annoyed and angry people demanding that Epic increase its server capacity and stability, and generally prepare better for major events like this one.

One superfan, who claims to have spent thousands on the game, said, "They have more than enough money to create enough server space for everyone... I am beyond mad." That seems to sum up the general feeling of the people complaining about the season-ending event.

Some people are even saying that Epic did it on purpose to boost viewership numbers. If that was the company's plan, it worked. Pulling 2.3 million viewers in on Twitch is certainly impressive, but it's nothing compared to the over 6 million that reportedly watched on YouTube. All told, The Device drew an audience of over 20 million people: the 12 million participants, plus over 8 million watching streams.

Epic didn't respond to the accusations that it had intentionally limited attendance, but did say that servers were capped to avoid stability issues. The company claims was overwhelmed by the response to The Device, and promised to keep making improvements to let more and more people experience future events themselves instead of having to stream them.

Predictably, this statement did little to soothe angry fans. The comments are filled with people insulting the event, the company, and the game itself. Some are pointing out that the Travis Scott concert had more attendees and there were no issues with it. Others are demanding that they be somehow compensated for getting locked out, either with a free battle pass for the next season or free skins for their characters. Epic has not responded to any such demands or released any kind of statement that people who couldn't participate in the event would be compensated.

The refrain "DEAD GAME" can now be seen all over the place, which is pretty clearly a joke, since they're talking about an event that pulled more than 20 million people. Still, it shows people's frustration over what happened with The Device. Will Fortnite's greatest achievement to date prove harmful in the long run, as former fans pack up their bags and leave a game that they don't feel is supporting them?

Probably not. For every commenter complaining about the event, there's another praising Epic and Fortnite for the incredible experience. For every superfan promising to stop supporting the game, there are dozens speculating about the next season. Love it or hate it, Fortnite is a juggernaut, and a few salty people aren't going to slow it down. 

Was this the result of Epic not planning well enough for the huge turnout, or a deliberate scheme to boost stream numbers? We'll likely never know for sure. Whatever the reason, Fortnite once again reigns supreme on Twitch with a record that isn't likely to be broken anytime soon.