Update: Sony's stock price fell slightly amidst this controversy.
Some big news out of Nintendo’s E3 2018 showcase was their surprise release of Fortnite’s battle royale mode on the Switch, free to download later that day. As those Switch players rushed to the eShop to download Epic Games’ massively popular multiplayer game, another, less auspicious surprise emerged: if a player previously logged into their user account on the PS4 version of Fortnite, they were now unable to use that same account on the Switch.
Fortnite’s battle royale is a competitive multiplayer game, with cosmetics, emotes, stats, and weekly tallied progress as important points of pride, representing the hard work of its players. So when those same players were met with an apology screen when attempting to log into the game on their Switch, they were manifestly stunned and disappointed.
The truth was now apparent: if you’re a PS4 Fortnite player, you’ll have to make an entirely new account to play the newly released Switch version. That means even just those who previously logged in to their Fortnite account on Sony’s platform were automatically blocked from transferring it to over to their Switch. For the world's biggest game, the sudden blockade was a tough pill to swallow.
There is, unfortunately, precedence to this interruption, with messages previously appearing to Xbox Live account holders attempting to log in to their PSN-connected Epic Games accounts — this makes the entire ordeal especially galling, because announcements could have been made to Fortnite players in advance. For gamers waiting to experience Fortnite on their Switch, an alert notice may have prevented them from ever logging on to the game on the PS4.
Within this conflict, Sony’s strategy of being tight-lipped on the issue does make sense, as some players would have never played the game on the PS4 if they had known this would happen. Still, warnings could have been issued as a matter of consideration to gamers, information which would arguably lead many of them to simply creating a separate PS4 Fortnite login, helping to avoid what essentially amounts to a brazen account lockdown on the newest releasing platform.
The previous cross-platform functionality of Fortnite remains intact, allowing players on Xbox One, PC, Mac, and mobile devices to join matches together, and even create cross-platform squads of four. While Sony’s absence from this thoughtful convenience establishes the new Switch blunder as somewhat anticipated, that’s an insufficient excuse for this egregious lack of communication to its userbase.
Taking to social media, Fortnite’s community searched for answers, explanations, or even simple apologies, but Sony has yet to offer any, and their Twitter account forges ahead with ongoing conference coverage. This avoidance didn’t prevent sarcastic or angry comments from Fortnite’s player-base — as well as other gaming platforms’ official accounts — casting a significantly dark cloud on one of the biggest port announcements at E3.