When it comes to multiplayer games, toxicity is a constantly debated and prominent topic. But for the harm it does to adults, the harm it does to children can be even worse. Epic Games, with the massive hold they have of a youth audience, are looking to combat that with their new ‘cabined accounts’ system. Debuting it yesterday for a variety of games including Fall Guys, Rocket League and their massively popular battle royale title Fortnite.
According to the announcement on Epic Games website, “Cabined Accounts are a new type of Epic account that will provide a tailored experience that is safe and inclusive for younger players.” Cabined account players will be unable to use voice or text chat, purchase items with money, download games not owned by Epic (assumedly on their store client) or receive Email and push marketing notifications, amongst other restrictions. Players can bypass these with parental permissions of course, but it adds an additional hurdle for players under the age of 13.
Why do it now?
For better or for worse, Fortnite has often been stereotyped to be a young person’s game despite a not insignificant adult audience. Given the controversy that has often arisen from unsupervised youngsters making purchases without parental permission, or the often toxic nature of online multiplayer, Epic may be taking these steps to preempt any mainstream issues that arise. Restricting cabined accounts to only under-13 players also means they are not excluding a significant paying audience of tweens or teens.
The recent release of Fortnite Chapter 4 may also indicate an attempt to rehabilitate the game for adult audiences too. There are few adult players who find the prospect of playing versus angry or screaming children fun, so restricting voice or text chat to (relatively) mature players can be an important step to making the game more enjoyable. The decision to bring in collaborations from game franchises enjoyed more by adults (The Witcher, Doom) can also be seen as a tactic to ensure that these players receive more content aimed towards them too.
Given that Fortnite mobile also requires players to have an Epic account, we are likely to see these changes implemented to both Fortnite and to something such as Rocket League: Sideswipe either already or in the very near future.