Like many customer support reps for Fortnite developer Epic Games, Hunter Davies has heard from hundreds of anxious, frustrated, and furious Fortnite players. Problem is, Hunter Davies doesn’t work for Epic Games. He works for Epic Loot Games, a small hobby shop in an Ohio strip mall that has received a great deal of unwanted attention since Fortnite’s explosion of popularity.
Davies, the assistant manager at Epic Loot Games, says he sometimes “plays bartender,” listening as kids rage over lost games and “broken” weapons. Earlier this year, when the calls started pouring in, Davies’ first one left him winded.
“A kid between nine and 16 screamed expletives at me,” Davies told me. “‘Fix your fucking game, fix your servers.’ Then he just hung up on me.”
Over the last few months, Fortnite has spread like wildfire, becoming one of the most popular games of all time. Davies, who sells Dungeons & Dragons sourcebooks and other tabletop wares for a living, refuses to play “out of spite,” he said, for the misguided customer support calls. Epic Loot Games was hosting a Magic: The Gathering event the Friday evening in March when hip-hop musician Drake and mega-popular Twitch streamer Ninja streamed Fortnite together for 600,000 viewers. After the trickle of Fortnite-related calls became a torrent, employees began tallying inquiries on a post-it note. The final count was 130.
Epic Games doesn’t have live phone support for Fortnite inquiries. Most players correspond with Fortnite customer support via e-mail, and a lot of the time, those e-mails aren’t entirely personalized. They’re often constructed out of pre-packed response fragments, according to a Fortnite customer service rep who spoke to Kotaku last week. Embittered and perplexed players can’t get live tech support or—as is so often the case—the misguided catharsis they crave from letting some innocent customer support worker have it. After a little athletic Googling, “Epic Games” might morph into “Epic Loot Games,” which does indeed have a phone number listed.
“There are so many calls—pranks, angry gamers, kids who don’t understand why the support doesn’t have a readily available method of contact,” said Davies. “We started telling them to use the website because they can’t actually talk to anyone on the phone.”
Davies’ colleagues try to be professional when they pick up the phone, though sometimes, he says, it’s tough. When confused kids call looking for help with Fortnite issues, they’ll sometimes console them. Other times, they can’t do anything but listen in awe and explain they’re just a hobby shop in Ohio.
“A really upset kid called because he said his mom is taking him to counseling because of his anger issues,” said Davies. “He was throwing controllers, cussing people out in the game. I think he got banned. He wanted us to make up for the fact he had to go to a counsellor. I tried to genuinely make him understand we weren’t affiliated, but he either didn’t care or was convinced we were the support team, we were brushing him off and we didn’t want to help him.”
Once, a kid kept calling to complain that he had spent money to purchase in-game skins and did not receive them. “He kept calling on his mom’s cell phone,” Davies said, laughing. “His mom eventually picked up the phone and told us to stop calling and harassing her son.”
Despite all the racket from Fortnite players, Epic Loot Games employees don’t want to change the store’s name. After expanding the store to two additional locations, Davies explained, employees are “proud of the name.” He added, “It hasn’t crossed our mind.”