“When I was making those videos I never thought about the consequences that could happen,” Khattri said, breathing heavy through tears. “I just thought about entertaining you guys.”
The latest ban news underscores the very modern problem of applying a set of rules across a broad range of users, including professionals who use the game as a platform for their own businesses. Fortnite, as much a social network as a video game, has spawned a cottage industry of influencers on YouTube. Epic gave Khattri a hardware and Internet provider ban, meaning he’s effectively locked out of the game and can’t make a new account without going through more drastic measures, like relocating and changing providers.
Khattri apologized to his 1.9 million subscribers and pleaded with Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer and creator.
“Epic Games, I know how big of a mistake I’ve made, I’m truly so sorry,” he said. “Epic, I know I have to take accountability for my actions.”
Epic, a company not known to make many unplanned public statements about Fortnite, is standing its ground so far, and issued the following comment to The Washington Post.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for the usage of cheat software,” an Epic spokesman said. “When people use aimbots or other cheat technologies to gain an unfair advantage, they ruin games for people who are playing fairly."
The Post reached out to Khattri and FaZe Clan but they were not available for comment before publishing.
A #FreeJarvis hashtag started to pop on Twitter Monday, with some pointing out the hypocrisy of cheaters punished during the Fortnite World Cup earlier this year. A number of pro players were caught in a collusion scheme to boost scores for the qualifying rounds, with one still qualifying for, and competing in, the final event of the World Cup with millions in prize money on the line.
However, the scheme did not include the use of software like aimbots, which rewrite the game’s code to give unfair advantages, including the ability to land every bullet, as well as seeing where other players are on the map, both of which Khattri used.
“I’m not trying to get banned instantly,” he says in the video.
In Epic’s “user license agreement,” it’s stated that “In the event that cheats are identified, you agree that Epic may exercise any or all of its rights under this agreement.”
Some Fortnite YouTubers said a lifetime ban is harsh.
“Jarvis’s entire career is literally built on Fortnite. ... His whole entire livelihood, the money he makes, the friends he has, literally everything," said Kiwiz, a Fortnite streamer.
“You want to create content a lot of people can’t find anywhere else,” Kiwiz said. “I get that, however it doesn’t necessarily justify what he did. I just feel like maybe he should’ve been banned for a couple months to a year."
On the Fortnite subreddit, many users showed little sympathy for the ban.
“I’m glad they’re not going easy on streamers. Sets a precedent that nobody is above the rules, no matter how much you bring to the game,” said Reddit user u/OutcastMunkee.
Throwing down bans to influencers and entertainers, not just professional competitors, also keeps the community clean, other users said. Still more said that using the cheating software on a widely-watched channel like Khattri’s is akin to promoting cheating.
In his apology video, Khattri promises more content to his fans. His YouTube channel is almost five years old and began with short clips of him playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. It wasn’t until this year when FaZe Clan signed him on that Jarvis began uploading content in earnest.
Fortnite wasn’t just the center of his YouTube strategy, it became core to his public persona.
“I just know now that I can never go into any other events or even be a part of the Fortnite community,” Khattri said in between trying not to cry. “All I ever want is a chance to be able to play Fortnite again. ... I just want to do what I truly love the most in life.”
As services like Twitch and Fortnite become platforms, platforms become sources of income. But all users are beholden to the platform’s rules, and can only continue so long as the platform is willing to host its creators. Additionally, those platforms’ most successful users often push the boundaries of crowded spaces like Fortnite and Facebook in the hope of gaining a larger audience. Those efforts occasionally introduce new and unexpected headaches for everyone involved.
Khattri’s plight is similar to media companies centered around a specific platform, most notably Facebook, like woman-focused company LittleThings. Started in 2014 to capitalize on Facebook’s user base and popularity, LittleThings had more than 12 million likes on its page, relying purely on Facebook traffic. In the following years, the social media platform made changes to its news feed, blocking out certain media companies from gaining the usual attention. LittleThings shut down in January last year.
Another YouTube channel, Special Books by Special Kids, formed a close-knit commenting community around its videos highlighting children with special needs. After a network of sexual predators in YouTube comments was unearthed, YouTube changed its rules on how comments on videos featuring children are moderated. Comments for some channels featuring children, including Special Books, were turned off.
Those two instances were just a changing of the landscape, however, its creators didn’t stray from the platform’s rules. Earlier this year, Twitch streamer DrDisrespect was suspended from the platform and kicked out of the Electronic Entertainment Expo for streaming from the men’s bathroom, another incident that was done for content.
Khattri’s apology video, uploaded late Sunday, had 2.2 million views as of Monday afternoon and was the top trending video on YouTube. The relationship between the creator and the game remains awkward. Next to his video is an ad for Fortnite.