Boasting millions of concurrent players and even a Twitch stream with Drake, Fortnite is a game that has connected a huge and varied audience. Yet PS4 players are still missing out on the full experience.
It’s been a big week for Fortnite, marking one year since its initial release by surpassing $1billion in revenue. First teased by Epic in 2011, the game now feels like an overnight success story seven years in the making. The ever-evolving title has become the new titan of the Battle Royale genre and a symbol of the possibilities of free-to-play and cross-platform gaming. It has also developed into a strange signpost for the way Sony defines itself in the current gaming climate.
The debate surrounding Sony’s policy of denying PS4 owners cross-platform play with Xbox One or Nintendo Switch has been as constant in the press as Fortnite has been in the daily gaming habits of millions across the globe. The recent launch of Fortnite Season 5 brought a plethora of new delights from karts to handy teleportation rifts. Yet it did nothing to change this issue for those locked into PlayStation Fortnite accounts. But how do Fortnite players really feel about Sony’s self-imposed isolation and the importance of cross-platform play? The Games’ Edge went to find out.
Unsurprisingly, PlayStation 4 gamers were the least impressed. 32% stated that playing with those on every platform was a necessity. A very similar response to those on Xbox One. Even the PC crowd, in relative terms the most unsociable ones at the party, voted 25% in favour of universal cross-platform play.
I’m confident we’ll get a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business. – Shaun Layden, CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America
At the same time, 45% of players on all three platforms said that ideally it would be an option, whilst only a fifth of those on Sony’s console stated that they didn’t care about playing cross-platform. Xbox players weren’t too far behind and PC gamers were, again, the least bothered. Still, less than a third said they were entirely unmoved by the issue.
Sony’s isolationism means that PlayStation players cannot port progress or purchases across to Xbox or Switch – something you can on every other device. In many ways this undermines what makes Fortnite so appealing, and is one of the game’s big selling points. If you play Fortnite on Xbox or PC, for example, you can keep up the fight on the go through Nintendo Switch. Not so for PlayStation.
To do this you have to have a completely separate account and so any progress or purchases you make won’t transfer over. At the same time, if your PS4 is your primary platform you simply cannot play with friends on these other systems and progress your account at the same time. It will be interesting to see whether this issue grows in magnitude when the 2 billion monthly Android users finally get their long-rumoured version of the game.
An ‘Icarus’ Moment?
At the end of the Gamelab conference in Spain last month, Shawn Layden, the president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America was rightly questioned by a Eurogamer reporter: “I thought it was fascinating you talking about PlayStation 3 flying too close to the sun – your Icarus moment you called it, and then PlayStation 4 coming back to be more back to basics, to be more about the players.
But there seems to be an issue at the moment, that Sony isn’t listening to its players – or doesn’t seem to be – and that’s cross-play, Fortnite particularly. And I wondered if there were any plans to open it up? It seems to be Sony’s not listening.” To which Layden opaquely replied, “We’re hearing it. We’re looking at a lot of the possibilities. You can imagine that the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game. I’m confident we’ll get a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business.” At once promising and evasive, Layden’s comments did little to clear up the issue. How long will it be before a storm eye of dissatisfaction reaches Sony?