Why it matters: Keyboard and mouse gamers enjoy a distinct advantage over traditional gamepad and mobile gamers. Epic is hoping to even the odds by segregating gamers based on what peripherals they're using. However, this runs the risk of ruining the allure of cross-play between platforms.
As many TechSpot readers know quite well, using a keyboard and mouse gives gamers much more precise aiming in shooters. That advantage can often be seen in Fortnite, which allows PC, console (sans PS4), and mobile gamers to play against each other. It’s hard to see someone using a touchscreen to best someone using a keyboard and mouse. Fortnite developer Epic is trying to remedy that by changing how players are matched together.
Community Manager JustMooney1 wrote in a Reddit post in which he outlined how Epic planned on bringing better balance to the game. Apparently, Epic is “working on some matchmaking tech, on the way, that’ll pair you against folks based on your choice of peripherals”. So basically if you’re using keyboard and mouse, you’ll be matched against players who are also using keyboard and mouse. Presumably the same thing would happen with gamers who prefer gamepads or touch controls.
What makes this potentially interesting is that PS4 supports mouse and keyboard natively for Fortnite. Xbox One tangentially supports it using third party means and Microsoft is actively working on native keyboard and mouse support for Xbox One. That means the game would have to recognize what input the player is using. What if the player switches from a gamepad to a keyboard and mouse mid-game? Would the gamer get kicked out of that match?
In the past, there have been various experiments with allowing keyboard and mouse players to match up players using controllers. Infamously, Microsoft allows cross-platform play between PC and Xbox One for Gears of War 4. According to Microsoft, "Windows 10 and Xbox players had closely matched results when comparing Average KD, Score, and Kills per match based on skill ratings."
Fortnite has had meteoric success so far and tweaking the matchmaking could have interesting repercussions. For example, if mobile gamers using touch controls are only matched with other gamers using touch controls, it breaks the allure of crossplay with PC and console players.
On the other hand, it's in Epic's interest to keep Fortnite as fair and balanced as possible in order for players to be competitive. According to JustMooney1, more details are coming next week.