A former Sony Online Entertainment executive says Sony has a "dumb reason" for being anti-consumer with cross-play. Fortnite players have loudly expressed their frustrations with Sony and Epic Games after many Nintendo Switch players who eagerly downloaded the free battle royale smash hit found that they could not link their Nintendo account to their Epic Account if it had already been linked to their PlayStation Network account. Since then, Sony has provided a rather generic PR response, but it hasn't necessarily tempered frustrations.
Fortnite is far from the first game to go through some sort of cross-platform fiasco. Rocket League has long featured cross-platform play within private parties, with the promise of cross-platform matchmaking parties for this summer. However, PlayStation 4 owners can only play with PC players, and are locked out of matchmaking with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch players. Similarly, the developers behind Minecraft have been working on uniting all current versions of their game, with PlayStation 4 the only platform being left in the dust.
Funnily enough, Epic Games "accidentally" turned on PlayStation/Xbox cross-play for Fortnite for a short time, before turning it off. With Fortnite Battle Royale currently the most popular video game around, former SOE executive John Smedley suggests this will provide the pressure for Sony to finally change their tune on cross-play. In a tweet responding to Kinda Funny's Greg Miller's complaint about Epic accounts tied to PSN being locked out, Smedley said the following:
btw when I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money. They didn't like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. simple as that. dumb reason, but there it is.
This is perhaps the most candid explanation that PlayStation users have received about this ongoing controversy - it certainly helps that Smedley is no longer associated with Sony. But this information that Smedley has provided more so proves the intuition of many Fortnite players that this situation is due to anti-competitive and anti-consumer decisions from Sony. Previously, in regards to Minecraft, Sony justified their decision as protection for their customers from content that the PlayStation team have no control over.
But with Fortnite and the progression of millions of players now in the mix, the cracks are beginning to show in Sony's policy on cross-platform play and progression. With three popular video games making cross-platform features a major initiative, they are paving the way for the future of how we play console games. Though Sony is currently in the lead in the console sales war, they risk resisting this potential future with anti-competitive and anti-consumer lines of thinking, and could very well lose their lead come next generation.
Source: John Smedley/Twitter