After months of frustration from the gaming community, Sony announced Wednesday that it was finally backing down on its controversial restrictions on cross-console play.
In what will likely be music to the ears of PlayStation 4 owners everywhere, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO John Kodera said that cross-console play is now available for at least one popular title.
“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,” he said in a statement on the Sony Playstation website.
However, Fortnite is just the start. According to Kodera, Sony hopes to extend cross-console play to other titles if the Fortnite beta is successful.
“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.”
The announcement effectively ended Sony’s long-standing refusal to allow cross-console play. While competitors like the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch already allow gamers to play together — irrelevant of which console they use — the PS4 has drawn controversy as the sole holdout.
The controversy came to a head back in June, when PS4 gamers discovered that they were blocked from using their Fortnite accounts when playing on the newly released Nintendo Switch. As gamers later discovered, any Fortnite account tied to the PS4 was locked to that console. Not only were PS4 gamers barred from accessing their accounts on the Switch, but were also blocked from accessing their Fortnite accounts on the Xbox One, PC and mobile devices.
The revelation sparked a wave of public outrage, though Sony defended the restriction by claiming that it helped to protect children.
“On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play,” Sony head Kenichiro Yoshida said, according to the Independent.
Now, Kodera has admitted “games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”
With the Sony finally buckling under the pressure of their competitors. I wonder what this means for the PS4 community. I'm excited to finally play fortnite on my PS4 with my fellow console friends.https://t.co/wAj3kbXops#Fortnite #CROSSPLAY— GamingWithRasberry (@GamingWithRas) September 26, 2018
“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,” he said.
Gamers have welcomed the policy shift as a positive step forward for a console long accused of neglecting its customers.
“It’s a historic moment not just for PlayStation, but for all of gaming — as all console owners will now be able to play together for the first time,” wrote Eurogamer News Editor Tom Phillips.
The history of gaming is going to change from this moment https://t.co/5rGnKUv5DA— Ahmed Koraiem (@amkoraiem) September 26, 2018
Sony’s announcement came ahead of the widely anticipated launch of Fortnite’s sixth season, not to mention the accompanying Battle Pass. In April alone, the Battle Pass and related sales pulled in an estimated $296 million for Fortnite, according to figures cited by Forbes.
As Phillips noted, right now everyone is “dropping money on a new season’s battle pass.”
“That’s a lot of money for PlayStation, if people buy their shiny new battle pass through PlayStation’s console store rather than Nintendo or Microsoft’s,” he stated.