As the wise old saying goes, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. In Fortnite’s case, you can’t become a world-conquering phenomenon without ruffling a few feathers. In the latest from the great Fortnite cross-play snafu, a former Sony bigwig has told us all what we already knew.
Now, everyone feels some kind of way about this cartoonish shooter. There are the huge fans, the indifferent "why is it a thing" people, those who don’t like the game for their own entirely valid reasons, the super special snowflakes who don’t like it simply because it’s popular… that’s just the way it is with big titles like these.
However you feel about the title, though, there’s no denying that it’s the flavor of the month. It’s the Angry Birds of its day. Along with its archenemy PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the game has popularised the battle royale genre in a huge way. As a result of all this, of course, it’s been ported to just about the full suite of systems. PC, PS4, Xbox One, and as of E3 2018, Nintendo Switch. It’s with the Switch version’s release that the troubles flared up again.
As we know, the battle royale component is what Fortnite is really all about, and it’s free to play. This means microtransactions (albeit ones that are cosmetic), and an Epic Account which keeps track of your purchases. This is particularly crucial when hopping over to play on a new platform. Which is exactly the problem with the Switch edition.
The issue is that accounts from a PS4 cannot be used with the Switch version, essentially meaning that players have to begin from scratch on the hybrid handheld. Sony’s feeble response to the furor last Thursday did nothing to appease anybody, which just adds further fuel to the fire.
Why are Sony so anti-cross-play? As IGN report, Xbox’s Phil Spencer has voiced his support of the concept, but Sony? Nothing doing. According to John Smedley, formerly of PlayStation, the reason for this is simple.
“When I was at Sony,” he tweeted, “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.”
There it is indeed. Like so many issues in the industry, this isn’t one that can simply be switched off like a faucet. It’s one that’s having more and more attention brought to it, however, and that’s crucial.