After PS4 Fortnite (henceforth PSFortnite) fans discovered that their Epic accounts were locked out from the Switch version of the game, the anger of the internet boiled and frothed in Sony’s general direction. The silence from PlayStation was deafening. Meanwhile, Nintendo and Microsoft, both of which happily allow cross-play and account sharing between their platforms, have made statements reiterating their support for all Fortnite players to be able to leap from the Battle Bus together.
A tweet from @XboxUK shortly after the furor first started shows a rare moment of interaction between Xbox and Nintendo, gently twisting the knife that Sony has managed to jam into its own back. In a statement to Kotaku, Microsoft PR reiterated this support for cross-platform play in less jovial, more press-friendly language.
“Microsoft has long been a leading voice in encouraging the adoption of cross-platform play and the potential of connecting players across PC, mobile and all consoles,” a Microsoft representative told Kotaku. “We’ve worked closely with Nintendo to allow cross-network play between Xbox One and Switch and our offer to do the same with PlayStation players still holds.”
The head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, also talked about this in a conversation with Giant Bomb. "If it doesn’t help the developers and it doesn’t help the consumer, then it doesn’t feel like it helps to grow gaming to me," Spencer said. “I get the business side of it, and I’m not going to judge anybody else making their decisions because they’ve got to run their business. Our goal is to be relevant and important to every gamer on the planet. If people want to go buy someone else’s console and play games there, great, as long as we’re all leaning into how do we make this business for everybody as vibrant as possible."
Nintendo shares these views it seems, with Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime saying the following in an interview with Kotaku: “In fairness, there are three different things going on. You have companies like mine that encourage cross-play and enable cross-play. You have a developer and content owner that wants cross-play and is encouraging cross-play, and then you have the other platform holders and what it is that they do. And when it comes to other platform holders, as much as you have influence on other platform holders, I don’t. And that’s a decision that each of them are making, and some are supporting cross-play and some are not.”
“Some” may be inaccurate here, since Sony is the only platform holder currently holding players’ accounts hostage like this. Reggie’s just being classy and not calling PlayStation out by name.
Sony has since made a statement about this issue, which has no sign of being fixed, though it has come as a disappointment to many. The platform holder seems more interested in reminding people that it currently enjoys the largest audience than supporting its “For the players” tagline.
"We’re always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience," a Sony representative told the BBC. "With… more than 80 million monthly active users on PlayStation Network, we’ve built a huge community of gamers who can play together on Fortnite and all online titles. We also offer Fortnite cross-play support with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, expanding the opportunity for Fortnite fans on PS4 to play with even more gamers on other platforms. We have nothing further to add beyond this at this point."
A double standard from Sony that feels like it’s born out of spite for its console competitors. It certainly doesn’t sound like we’ll see a solution to this problem any time soon, despite the problem being picked up and reported on by mainstream press.