Sony has restricted PlayStation 4 owners from playing Fortnite with gamers on the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch which has caused an uproar in the gaming community. Unfortunately, the fact that Xbox and PlayStation players can’t play together is par for the course for the company.
Although the recent drama with Sony’s practices is due to the massive popularity of Fortnite, Xbox and PlayStation players can’t play together on the vast majority of titles.
Many have wondered what the reason for Sony’s policy stating that Xbox and PlayStation players can’t play together is, and it appears as if the motivation is almost entirely financial.
John Smedley, the former Sony Online Entertainment president and general manager of Amazon Game Studios, tweeted on Monday regarding the reason why these players can’t game together,
“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.”
Although Smedley is no longer present at Sony, there is no doubt some contention within the company itself regarding the decision that Xbox and PlayStation players can’t play together. If the former president of Sony Online Entertainment thinks it was a bad idea, it’s clear that the leadership may still be divided as to whether enforcing the rule that Xbox and PlayStation players can’t play together is a good idea.
Sony does allow cross-play with players on PC, Mac, and iOS players, they are not allowed to use their account on the Xbox or Nintendo Switch. This policy is likely due to the fact that the most direct competition with Sony comes from the two other main consoles currently on the market.
One unfortunate fact that is specific to Fortnite is that if players link their PlayStation to an Epic Games account, they will be unable to access that account on other systems even if they no longer want to play on PlayStation. This means that people who have invested hundreds of dollars into the game may no longer have access to their progress and items like skins if they decide to switch to the Xbox or Nintendo Switch – a policy that is beneficial for Sony in terms of profit but ultimately hurts the end user.
PlayStation has responded to the massive backlash from the community by stating that they were “open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in,” but that empty response fell on deaf ears and received negative responses from critics and the gaming community at large.
With an estimated 125 million players at its peak, there’s no denying that Fortnite is one of the most popular games we’ve ever seen. The fact that Xbox and PlayStation players can’t play together may serve Sony well in the short-term, but limiting access to players from other popular systems may make their system less attractive overall when people decide on which platforms they will tie their account to.