In a total reversal of the PlayStation policy of disallowing cross-platform play with Xbox and Nintendo, Sony announced that a Fortnite cross-platform beta will launch today. PlayStation 4 players will not only be able to play with their PC and mobile brethren, but also with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch users.
The development comes after a long saga of Sony resisting calls from Fortnite players to implement cross-play and cross-progression across platforms. The controversy reached a peak after the Nintendo Switch version of the popular battle royale game launched back in June - Switch players found it impossible to carry over any progress made from other platforms if their Epic account was linked to their PlayStation Network account. Sony released a couple of statements saying they would evaluate the situation, but the company has recently implied that no such action would be taken.
Sony broke their silence today through a post on the PlayStation Blog, making an unexpected announcement that the company is opening up cross-platform opportunities for the free-to-play Fortnite. This will come in the form of an open beta and will be compatible with all platforms that Fortnite is available on. Sony clarifies that the beta will allow for "cross platform gameplay, progression and commerce," meaning that players will be able to carry their challenge progress and purchases across platforms, previously a large point of contention. In the blog post, Sony acknowledged this is "a major policy change" for the company, and promises further updates on details and how this beta will affect future titles.
This is a rare display of Sony actually answering the cries of their community members, with the previous practice of locking PlayStation players away from other platforms thought to be anti-consumer. It was of little surprise, as Sony's PlayStation 4 is the leader in sales amongst its competition, so cross-platform hijinx would have had no positive impact on the company financially. It ultimately came to the other gaming companies to apply the pressure, with Microsoft and Nintendo making cross-platform play in Minecraft a selling point in commercials and developers like Bethesda openly expressing their ire over Sony's previous policies.
It is doubtful that this news will shake up the entire industry - at best, games like Minecraft and Rocket League, where cross-platform play makes sense to their respective player ecosystems, will finally have cross-platform functionality. But publishers behind big franchises like Call of Duty have expressed little interest in implementing such a feature, and it is unlikely that every triple-A developer will be eager to put in the work of enabling cross-play. But still, Sony's newfound (if cautious) openness to the idea, with Fortnite as a testing ground, completely defied expectations - in the gaming world, anything seems about possible now.
Source: PlayStation Blog