The Fortnite community on PlayStation is at long last ready to join their brothers and sisters who play the game anywhere else.
Sony announced on Wednesday the launch of an “extended Fortnite cross-play beta” for the PlayStation 4 version of the game. That means PS4 folks can now duke it out online with people playing on any other machine.
Yes, Xbox too.
The full cross-platform list includes: Android/iOS, Nintendo Switch, Windows, and MacOS, as well as Xbox. Until now, PlayStation has been the lone holdout in the Fortnite family. It’s been a bit of a headache for Sony.
When Fortnite launched for Switch during the annual E3 trade show over the summer, players quickly discovered a problem. Anyone with a Fortnite account connected to their PlayStation couldn’t access the game through that same account on their Switch.
Similarly, accounts created on Switch couldn’t make the leap over to PlayStation. Both of these issues were a product of Sony’s restrictive stance on cross-platform play when it comes to consoles connecting with other consoles.
It created a real problem for players who had invested time and money into the game. They essentially had to choose where they wanted to play, or, alternatively, create a separate account — but one that wouldn’t have access to any of the original account’s unlocks. For a game like Fortnite where progression-based unlocks are a badge of honor, that’s unthinkable for most.
It was a bad look for Sony. Until Wednesday morning, it continued to be a bad look. For months, Fortnite fans have raged at the company’s inaction and relative silence on the matter. In this increasingly online world, a time when the games we play are living entities, the walled garden approach that console makers have traditionally adopted isn’t going to fly.
It’s something that Microsoft recognized in 2016 when it took the first steps toward allowing cross-platform play. That move on its own prompted a round of questions for Sony on whether or not it would follow suit.
At the time, there wasn’t a game on the scale of Fortnite in the public consciousness. And without anything tangible to compel Sony into taking action, the urgency to have those questions answered faded.
PS4 folks can now duke it out online with people playing on any other machine. Yes, Xbox too.
Fortnite changed everything. Now, there’s an army of fans who are pissed off that their accounts — and the stuff they’ve invested time and money into unlocking — are held hostage by platform-specific rules. Even back in June, it was clear that something would have to give in this situation. Too many people were feeling a tangible impact.
Something gave. The Fortnite cross-play extended beta is officially live on PS4, linking Sony’s online ecosystem up with all the others in the console, mobile, and PC gaming spaces. Here’s Sony’s full statement on the matter, via a PlayStation Blog post.
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. We see the beta as an opportunity to conduct thorough testing that ensures cross-platform play is best on PlayStation, while being mindful about the user experience from both a technical and social perspective.
For 24 years, we have strived to deliver the best gaming experience to our fans by providing a uniquely PlayStation perspective. Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players. In recognition of this, we have completed a thorough analysis of the business mechanics required to ensure that the PlayStation experience for our users remains intact today, and in the future, as we look to open up the platform.
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.
Take note of that comment in the first paragraph: “SIE has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content.” This beta just applies to Fortnite for now, but don’t be surprised if additional games are added to the mix in the coming months.