Epic Games has pulled a Travis Scott emote from the Fortnite Item Shop following the tragedy at the rapper’s Houston ‘Astroworld’ concert.
Eight people, ages 14 – 27, were killed at the concert in what has been described as a “death trap” in which the crowd was so thick that people were crushed to death and suffocated in the throng. A 9-year-old remains in a medically induced coma following the catastrophe. Countless others were injured.
Travis Scott performed a rather spectacular in-game Fortnite concert back in April of 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 28 million people tuned in to watch the concert (which took place as a live-event in the popular battle royale game and was repeated several times).
Scott reportedly earned around $20 million for his 9-minute-long Fortnite concert. Epic Games sold Travis Scott skins and emotes in the Item Shop and the rapper walked away with his shortest and most successful concert ever.
Certainly a Fortnite concert is safer than the real thing. Roughly 50,000 people were in attendance at Astroworld. The venue was not equipped to handle such a large and wild crowd. Witness accounts of the event are horrifying.
Perhaps Epic should go one step further and pull or disable all Travis Scott content from the game. Astronomical-themed cosmetics should be fully refundable as well, at least for a set period of time.
This is not because I am passing judgment on Scott, either. It’s hard to say whether or not he was aware of what was going on in the crowd, and there were plenty of others involved in setting up the concert who should have known better, from safety officials to event organizers.
It’s simply that after something like this, many people may not want to see Travis Scott’s likeness running around in Fortnite, and may not feel comfortable using the cosmetics they purchased in light of this tragedy—all of which is perfectly understandable. Pulling one emote from the current Item Shop just doesn’t seem to go far enough.
Disabling these items in the immediate wake of the tragedy also doesn’t have to mean permanently excluding them from the game, though I’d be surprised if any returned to the Item Shop ever again.
This is a tough call, I realize, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. Just having rappers like Travis Scott in games like Fortnite is fairly new territory, and it’s not like Scott intentionally hurt anyone. But this is a national tragedy and it seems like the civilized, honorable thing to do would be to disable Travis Scott content in Fortnite out of respect for the victims.