In an unexpected turn, Sony has backed down from their anti cross-play stance and are opening up a Fortnite beta to test cross-play between all platforms. The announcement comes via the PlayStation blog and is exciting news for players who will now finally be able to play Fornite with their friends, regardless of which platform they are on.
For quite some time now, there has been a lot of pressure put on Sony to support the cross platform play feature. Back in August, Bethesda suggested that cross-play was “non-negotiable” for their upcoming card game, The Elder Scrolls: Legends. Microsoft and Nintendo have also been jumping on the bandwagon, going as far as to release a cheeky cross-play video with Sony and the PlayStation 4 deliberately omitted. That’s not to mention all of the pressure coming directly from the gamers themselves.
Despite all the pressure, Sony was always against the idea. That is until now.
“Following a comprehensive evaluation process, SIE has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content. We recognize that PS4 players have been eagerly awaiting an update, and we appreciate the community’s continued patience as we have navigated through this issue to find a solution.”
“The first step will be an open beta beginning today for Fortnite that will allow for cross platform gameplay, progression and commerce across PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Mac operating systems.”
So does this mean we are moving towards a eutopic future where every platform can play alongside every other platform for every game? Maybe, but not just yet. Sony are starting specifically with Fortnite, the world’s most popular online game. However their change of heart is certainly a positive sign with the potential of more games being given the cross-play green light in the future. Also the final line of their blog post creates further hope.
“This represents a major policy change for SIE, and we are now in the planning process across the organization to support this change. We will update the community once we have more details to share, including more specifics regarding the beta timeframe, and what this means for other titles going forward.”
Cross-play is an important feature for multiplayer games, not just because it allows you to play games with friends from other platforms, but because it helps insure the health of a game’s player base. The larger a player base, the more options developers have for their games. For instance, a larger player base would mean you’re able to find a match quicker, or you’ll be matched with players closer to your own skill level and from a similar part of the world.
Whilst it’s great to see Fortnite be given the cross-play blessing, I’m actually excited to see this implemented in smaller games. Games that are much more at risk of failing due to their small player base.
The news of Sony allowing cross-play for Fortnite also means that Epic accounts created on the PS4 should now work with other platforms. There was some controversy back in June when players realised they were locked out of their accounts when trying to log in to play Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch. With cross-play also comes cross-progression, which is now a reality.