- “Fortnite” is the first game to allow players across competing video game consoles — the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch — to all play together.
- The announcement of support for cross-console play with “Fortnite” comes after months of Sony refusing to allow it.
- Both video game fans and video game publishers have been pushing back on Sony’s stance for months, and Sony is finally giving in.
“Fortnite” is the biggest game in the world, and it’s playable on pretty much anything that runs video games: Your smartphone (both iOS and Android), your computer (PC and Mac), and every current game console (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch).
It’s exactly the same game across all those different platforms and, in many cases, you can play with people on whatever platform they’re playing on. If you’re playing “Fortnite” on Switch, you can play with people on phones and Xbox One and computers.
There’s just one major exception: PlayStation 4 players were siloed off from Microsoft’s Xbox One and Nintendo’s Switch. Worse, if you bought stuff in “Fortnite” on PlayStation 4, none of it would show up if you played the game with the same account on another platform. Bummer!
And that was specifically due to Sony refusing to allow the game to play nice with the competition.
That all changes today, as Sony is officially giving in and allowing “Fortnite” players on PlayStation 4 to play with people on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Mac. Moreover, if you buy stuff in “Fortnite” on PlayStation 4, it will now show up on other platforms (so-called “cross-commerce” support).
That’s a really big deal — “Fortnite” is the first-ever game to allow players on all platforms to play together. As Sony puts it: “This represents a major policy change for Sony Interactive Entertainment.”
That’s for sure! Wednesday’s announcement has been a long time coming.
It all started with ‘Minecraft’
The Microsoft-owned blockbuster is available on pretty much everything that plays games, from consoles to phones to handhelds.
Microsoft, which makes the Xbox One and directly competes with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch, publishes “Minecraft” on Sony and Nintendo (and Apple and Google) platforms in addition to its own Xbox consoles.
More importantly, even though Microsoft owns “Minecraft,” the game can be played across competing devices. “Minecraft” players on Xbox One can join up with players on iPhone, Switch, Android, and PC/Mac — even if you’re playing in a virtual-reality headset!
But Xbox One can’t play with PlayStation 4 and vice versa.
That same situation applied to “Fortnite,” which launched on Nintendo Switch earlier this summer. Xbox One players could play with those on iPhone/iPad, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac, but not PlayStation 4. Worse still, none of the stuff that “Fortnite” players purchased on their PlayStation 4 — like the Battle Pass, or any gear — would show up on other platforms, even though “Fortnite” uses an Epic Games account across all platforms.
Sony refused to budge, which sparked outrage from players. It even spawned a hashtag: #BlameSony.
And PlayStation 4 owners weren’t the only ones upset — major game makers and publishers repeatedly, openly criticized Sony’s decision to silo the PlayStation 4 multiplayer experience from competing platforms.
“We cannot have a game that works one way across everywhere else except for on this one thing,” Pete Hines, a Bethesda Game Studios senior vice president, said in a recent interview regarding the upcoming launch of “The Elder Scrolls: Legends” on game consoles.
“The Elder Scrolls: Legends” is a competitive card game, similar to Blizzard’s “Hearthstone,” that’s the same across all platforms, visually and gameplay-wise, whether you’re playing it on an iPhone or a PC. The game is turn-based, so it doesn’t require precise, reaction-based controls.
In so many words: There’s no technical reason it couldn’t work across competing platforms like the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.
Thus far, Sony has only announced cross-play support for “Fortnite,” but it sounds like things are in early days. Support for “Fortnite” across competing game consoles starts out in beta today, with more news promised for the future.