Richard Lewis: Why FaZe shares the blame for Jarvis' harsh lifetime Fortnite ban - Dexerto
Opinion

Richard Lewis: Why FaZe shares the blame for Jarvis’ harsh lifetime Fortnite ban

Published: 13/Nov/2019 22:11 Updated: 13/Nov/2019 22:54

by Richard Lewis

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Another day in esports, another person making inexplicably terrible decisions. This time it’s the turn of Jarvis ‘Jarvis’ Kaye of FaZe Clan, a 17-year-old Fortnite player, to f**k things up good and proper.

He’s a player who, according to the garbage tabloids that ran with the story, after making $2 million during his career, decided it would be a good idea to upload a video of him using cheat software to win games, all the while laughing about it.

This being against Epic Games’ Terms of Service, and the ‘terms of service’ of every professional sport under the sun (special dispensation for MMA for making it look like they give a f**k about the army of juiceheads in the sport,) it resulted in him being banned permanently from all future competitions ran by Epic Games.

Given that they control who gets a license to run tournaments, it could well be that they feel strongly enough to stop him competing in anything ever again, even small online competitions. It’s like he took Willy Wonka’s golden ticket, wiped his arse with it, and then set it on fire, all while a baying crowd of morons filmed it and cheered him on.

He won’t be the first, and he won’t be the last. Esports is an industry filled with young people who have little life experience and, when they blow up, are given too much, too soon. This wouldn’t be an issue if it wasn’t for the fact that many of the ‘elders’ are themselves young and prone to bad decision making, or are so fixated on profit that they don’t care enough about players fucking up their lives so long as it doesn’t eat into their bottom line.

YouTube: FaZe JarvisFaZe Jarvis has received a lifetime ban from Fortnite by Epic Games.

The young and naive are the oil that lubricates the esports money machine but there are so many of them that if a few get caught in the cogs most organization owners surmise that there’ll be plenty more to replace them. This reality doesn’t just explain the lack of guidance or adherence to a duty of care, but it explains the bad contracts, the broken promises, the missing money…

Somewhere in all that noise though, we spend most of our time shouting at the kid. Honestly, it’s kind of understandable. No one likes liars, cheaters, the terminally smug whose grins tell us that not only do they not appreciate what they have, but they also think nothing can take it away from them. Then again, I’m an older guy who had his fair share of drama and was a pretty wild and dysfunctional teenager. You can never gauge if anyone has learned a lesson if you never give them a chance to prove it.

In the decadent West 17-year-olds are kids, no matter how much they pretend otherwise and call anyone over 21 a boomer – and in esports that’s even truer than it is out there in the world. So yes, Jarvis needs a solid, lengthy ban. He’s old enough to compete and old enough to be held to that standard, but for life?

Let’s get the obligatory take out the way in a bid to defuse the insane behavior from the deranged fans who read a headline and then imagine you said something so outrageous you must be threatened to prevent you from ever saying it again… I do not support lifetime bans for anything except the most heinous of behavior. The fact that the average game developer can just implement a lifetime ban from their product, issued without any explanation or grounds for appeal, is a disgrace and something we should push back on becoming the norm.

In general, a lifetime ban for a one-off instance of cheating or match-fixing is disproportionate. Yet it is fairly obvious to anyone who follows any sport that you can’t have top-ranked competitors publicly using cheats and simultaneously being stupid enough to promote them to their huge audience as just a bit of fun. A ban is essential if you want to preserve the integrity of competition and set a standard by which you expect your professionals to live.

Tennis Australia
Tennis Australia
Jarvis has been banned from competing in Fortnite tournaments following his use of cheats.

There’s that word. Integrity. Something FaZe have seemingly never cared about and never will. The creative minds behind the organization have managed to be involved with everything rotten and wrong in the esports space at some time or another. It seems incredible to me that while people are discussing how much Jarvis’s punishment is deserved or not, no one has wanted to apportion any blame to the organization itself. They absolutely should.

Right now this is an organization that has stated in court documents that it provides information and support to its players that are so incredible they constitute “trade secrets.” That’s correct, FaZe are so far gone they believe that having figured out that all-caps clickbait titles and thumbnails of their e-celebs pulling stupid faces will get them more views makes them industry pioneers. Seriously. This is a crucial point in their counter-filing against Turner ‘Tfue’ Tenney. It’s part of a broader narrative they want to spin that namely they, and only they, can pluck people from obscurity and turn them into stars by giving them access to a young, naive fanbase and teaching them how to simultaneously grow and leverage that fanbase.

The Jarvis incident doesn’t just contradict that but it also shows how little concern FaZe management put into the talent on their roster. Let’s assess the facts here… A professional player on their roster decided it would be a good idea to record himself using cheats on a throwaway account and then upload the video evidence of him doing it.

The player wasn’t some low-rung roster padding afterthought but a top-tier player with a huge following. Nor was he someone who was lurking at home in their parent’s spare bedroom. This player was located at the $15 million mansion that is depressingly known as the ‘clout house’, where the other top players and management reside.

In the videos he uploaded, his own brother – a director at the company no less – would be seen laughing and joking along. There wasn’t a single bit of oversight about how this could impact on the player’s career, not a single thought to the consequences. How embarrassing to ever try and make the argument that you’re essential to developing talent when you were so incompetent you couldn’t stop a 17-year-old child from uploading a video that may just have ended their career.

FaZe ClanFrazier Kaye is a director of FaZe Clan.

It’s also worth noting that I am sure Jarvis thought there would be no consequences. After all, that is what FaZe promote themselves as – a group of people who are so wealthy and popular that they are above the law. If they get caught doing something wrong they can just write a check and then leverage their aggressive fanbase against anyone that calls them out for it.

Think this is an exaggeration? Did you forget about Ricky Banks lying about his girlfriend being sexually assaulted in a bar in Cleveland because he was upset at being thrown out after he assaulted a security guard? CCTV footage, of course, proved it was all lies but not before he’d used his social media to endanger the business financially by posting his lies. The bar filed a lawsuit, which was settled, but because Banks is what he is he subsequently violated part of that settlement agreement by posting a video to lie to his fans some more about how he was the victim.

That same year another settled lawsuit was filed by the owner of the mansion where FaZe spend so much of their time. It was for excessive damage to the property and included such lines as “master bedroom floor buckled and ruined from feces, dog poop and pee materials”, and “flat-screen TV damaged with bullet hole.” The lawsuit claimed that there was an outstanding bill for $175,600 for damages to the property.

Think any lessons have been learned? Just last month, there were reports that Banks had trashed a hotel room in Las Vegas to the tune of $30,000. As TMZ said, “The bad news for Banks – real name Richard Bengtson – we’re told the estimated damage is over $30,000, which means he can be charged with felony malicious destruction of property. The charge carries a maximum of five years in prison, but there’s no way Banks gets anywhere close to that even if he’s convicted. The good news for Banks – he’s RICH AS HELL and can easily afford to cover the damages if he wants to.”

Yeah, that’s always the good news for these guys… And when they can’t just pay someone off to make the problem go away, they can happily just issue some apology and their gullible, mostly younger, fans will eat it up. Don’t deliver on a Kickstarter to make a video game? We’re sorry but it’s not our fault and we’re not scamming anyone. Promote dubious skins gambling websites to their young audience? We’re sorry, but we definitely didn’t own it even though the people who did were registered as living in the FaZe house. Giving out redeemed Amazon card codes in an apology for a Clout House resident’s involvement in promoting a scam website? We’re sorry, but hey, we got paid a lot to do it.

YouTube: FaZe BanksFaZe Banks reportedly trashed a Las Vegas hotel room in October.

This is part of a recurring theme with FaZe. They do something inarguably bad, blow it up on social media with a heavily skewed version of what happened, issue a half-assed apology and then point to who the real bad guys are; anyone who calls them out on their bullshit evidently. They then turn the resulting drama into content. Rinse and repeat… It’s been reported that the apology video alone made about $20,000. I believe this is what they call FaZing the f**k up.

So it is again with the Jarvis situation. There’s certainly a solid argument to be made that his ban is absolutely draconian. Epic Games have handled their esports business like rank amateurs, despite throwing big prize numbers around. Qualifiers are a joke, cheating runs rampant, players have been caught colluding with each other to skew results and have only been banned for a few weeks.

It’s clear that they really don’t know what they’re doing. But what they do know is that they want a cheat-free environment, so seeing a sneering millionaire teenager laughing and joking about how easy it is to cheat, to win with cheats and how he’ll probably make more cheating videos because it’s just that much fun… Well, they’re going to come down hard on that without question. In a world where the games developer is de facto judge, jury and monumentally petty executioner, you run this risk when you essentially laugh in their face. It won’t matter to them that you’re just a dumb kid.

FaZe’s reaction has done absolutely nothing to help Kaye get unbanned. They haven’t acknowledged any of their responsibility in all of this, not even issuing anything close to a professional statement that shows they understand the gravity of the situation. Instead, they complained about double-standards by pointing to things that really aren’t double-standards at all, just different situations with unbelievably light sentencing. They then pushed the inevitable hashtag, #FreeJarvis, because that’s the business model.

They can play fast and loose with Kaye’s career. Hell, they’ll keep him around as long as he’s popular and as long as there’s a director at the company making that call. But barring a spectacular change of heart from Epic Games, and I’ll tell you for free that game developers don’t do that because it’s too much like admitting they are mortal, his professional career is over.

The real thing I would want Epic Games to consider is this. There was no hope for Jarvis as soon as he was integrated into the FaZe machine. It is a factory that churns out morally bankrupt assholes on a conveyer belt. There isn’t and never will be an adult in that room. Show some leniency for the kid – a three-year ban is a lifetime in this business and an eternity to a 17-year-old – and take that cudgel you wield and go club some sense into those that need it.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the authors’ and are not necessarily shared by Dexerto.

Fortnite

How Fortnite Season 5’s leaked black hole could save the game

Published: 27/Nov/2020 14:56

by David Purcell

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Fortnite has been in a state of purgatory since Chapter 2 started up, with long-running seasons, content droughts, and many of its biggest creators abandoning it for games like Warzone and Among Us. But, if the leaked black hole event is true, things could change. 

The buzz of Chapter 1 has never really returned to Epic Games‘ strange world of silent characters. There has been endless crossovers, no patch notes to show players what they could be missing out on, and generally that feeling of developers being a step ahead of the game is frankly a distant memory.

Think back to the biggest moments in history for Fortnite. This game had everybody talking about the Infinity Blade, and remember the whole streaming space fighting a corner on planes being added. There was genuine hype for each update, and there still is – just to a much, much lesser extent.

Latest leaks from Fortnite Season 5 have included everything from a crossover with The Mandalorian (and three cheers for Baby Yoda), but really it’s the black hole leak we’re crossing our fingers for. In a world of flash of the pans, we’ve seen Fall Guys, Among Us, and there will be another.

But, if Epic Games want to bring back the core audience they built in the first place, things need to change and fast. A black hole leaves many possibilities on the table, and here’s just a few.

Map changes and rotation

Tilted Towers

One thing that is for certain is the need for map changes. The Chapter 2 map has been tweaked and moved around, with new POIs coming in, though if we think back to the tremendous expansions and shifts for Chapter 1 – it’s been insignificant.

Remember how the island adapted and completely froze over for Season 7, or even the Season 8 introduction of a volcano. We had robots being built on the tallest parts of the map, and rockets ready to fire us into space. With a black hole comes the opportunity to take us back to those crazy times, or even have a map rotation that occurs periodically – much like Apex Legends – that allows us access to play both Chapters at one time.

This would mix things up and keep gameplay fresh in Fortnite Season 5, rotating between the two and having them both connected.

New weapons and items

rocket launcher fn
Epic Games
It’s about time classic weapons came back, but that’s not all.

The crazy and often mindboggling nature of new weapons/items has faded away. Every change used to spark a debate or catch the eye. Lately, it’s been as underwhelming and as irrelevant a game than at any other time in its history. It doesn’t have to be this way, though.

There’s nothing really stopping Epic from going crazy once again though. Whether people liked it or not, that’s what got people playing it in the first place. From one week to the next, you didn’t know if you were playing the same game. It changed so rapidly, and a big part of that was mixing up the loot.

Throw a spanner in the works, an item or ability that makes you first-person while holding it. Bring back rocket launchers and take us back to simpler times. Add guns and items we’ve never seen before, to shake up the meta.

Abandon superheroes in Fortnite Season 5, once and for all

Galactus and Marvel hereos in fortnite
Epic Games
Superhero content appears to be approaching a natural end in Fortnite – at least, we’re hoping so.

Last on our wish list is basically to scrap this superhero obsession. The franchise has moved from crossover to crossover, working with some of the biggest franchises in history to bring their characters to life in-game.

That’s all well and good, but has it really made the game better to play? Sure, you can now choose to jump in as one of the Avengers or Aquaman, but the story doesn’t have to be built around that. The great thing about map developments and gameplay differences in the early seasons was that not one person knew what was happening next. You would be glued to leaker accounts and sniffing around for new details.

Next up on the Fortnite calendar is the Galactus event – we know that for certain.

For quite some time now, we’ve known what the Galactus event was going to be all about, and of course, there’s some hype. But it’s all pretty predictable. The heroes will be under siege, pull something out of the bag, and we’ll all escape the world eater by some miracle to kick off Fortnite Season 5.

The first black hole had everybody gripped and you won’t recreate that sense of wonder. Some people thought the game was just ending. This time, if the leaks are to be true, let’s hope the black hole adds never-before-seen map changes.

If it doesn’t happen now, there’s a good chance that when it eventually does happen, hardly anybody will care anymore. This game needs a refresh now.