There has been an uproar lately among the Fortnite: Battle Royale community surrounding the release of an official John Wick skin. Many love the fact that they get to buy it, but it feels like even more are upset that there is an option to do so at all. To be perfectly honest, I get where they are coming from and I cannot be mad at them for it.
Let me give you a little background on both skins before proceeding into my argument on this topic.
Fortnite: Battle Royale Season 3‘s final skin was “The Reaper”, a legendary skin knockoff of John Wick since they could not use the actual name and exact likeness for legal reasons. Everyone knew that this was supposed to be John Wick and always referred to it as such instead of its proper name as “The Reaper”. The fact that this was an unofficial Wick was supported by the fact that his additional challenges gave him items reminiscent of things within his movies; such as killing someone with a #2 Pencil or the tail lights on the back of his car.
Most people started to play Fortnite: Battle Royale by the end of Season 3 as it boosted drastically in popularity; having The Reaper was something many held in high regard (though not as much as Black Knight or Renegade Raider, obviously), and many today still mark it as a sigh of “OG” status within the community.
Fortnite: Battle Royale Season 9 has introduced a John Wick skin for purchase as promotion for the John Wick 3 movie. It makes sense that something like this would happen; Fortnite: Battle Royale has just finished a collaboration with Avengers: Endgame and is back on top as the most popular game within the Battle Royale genre as viewership numbers decline for Apex Legends. The John Wick skin comes with the “Assassin Pack” backbling and there is even a special challenge event for all players to earn new rewards by playing the “Wick’s Bounty” LTM (Limited Time Mode).
Something I have encountered in Fortnite: Battle Royale that I have not came across in any other game is the status that comes with owning certain skins. The community went crazy when they re-released “OG” skins like Skull Trooper, Red Knight, etc. These people were often compensated by a receiving a variant color that was limited to those who had purchased the skin when it first came around as to soften the blow of others receiving a look that they felt belonged exclusively to the early adopters of the game. The Reaper skin owners feel the same, but to a much higher degree.
You are only able to obtain Battle Pass Tier 100 skins by either buying all tiers; leveling up by collecting battle stars for challenges and earning experience; or a combination of the two. Either way, things get either expensive or time consuming to obtain a Tier 100 skin in Fortnite: Battle Royale; yet Epic is demeaning everyone who played in Season 3 by not giving The Reaper owners something to compensate for them essentially releasing the “official” version of the skin and outdating the Season 3 version many were proud to own.
Do not get me wrong, Epic is technically banking on the fact that it is named “The Reaper” and not actually John Wick. I am sure they feel as though they are two separate skins despite the obvious intent they had to make it as close to John Wick as possible without infringing on any copyright laws that could get them in trouble. Furthermore, I believe the reason they are not addressing “The Reaper” issue is because they would have to admit that they were going for his likeness and did a Wal-Mart “Great Value” version to avoid official licensing issues.
My final thoughts is that I do actually feel bad this time around because The Reaper was not a skin you bought (and therefore subject to re-release), but one you had to earn it by grinding on a Battle Pass. I feel as though Epic Games has just negated a whole season’s worth of effort, that all of a sudden the hard work everyone did is suddenly flushed away for the mere price of 2,000 V-Bucks. While they will not admit to it, this is a pretty low blow to those who did own the skin.