With the recent release of Fortnite Battle Royale on iOS devices, the number of potential cross-play pairings possible with the game are now quite high, but of course, the platforms that have yet to officially have cross-platform play between the two are PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, a recent talk given by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney during the 2018 Game Developers Conference saw the executive expounding on the upward trajectory of cross-play in the industry at large, leading him to conclude that the dissolution of the barrier between PS4 and Xbox One is inevitable.
During Sweeney’s talk at GDC 2018’s State of Unreal session, the Epic Games CEO stated that the ability to have cross-play between every single platform for Fortnite and any other multiplayer title would be “one of the best things to ever happen to the console industry.” He went on to refer to Metcalfe’s Law, which states that the value of any connected experience for a specific user is directly proportional to the number of people they can connect to in the real world, with Sweeney positing that Sony allowing PlayStation owners to play with Xbox fans is “the next logical step”.
According to Sweeney, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One cross-play is “inevitable” due to the fact that “games have become social experiences . . . and these experiences only really make sense if gamers can communicate with all of their friends.” To further accentuate his point, the Epic Games CEO put forth an interesting analogy involving children on a playground at school, saying that they wouldn’t allow for such an illusory barrier to come between them and disrupt play.
“For Sony and Microsoft to support their customers, well, they have to be open to all their customer’s friends – their real world friends – otherwise they’re breaking up real-world social groups. Like kids in school have their friends, and do you expect this platform schism to divide them into two separate groups that can’t play together? No. It’s got to come together now.
“That one remaining barrier will inevitably come down.”‘
Several months ago, Fortnite fans discovered that Epic Games accidentally enabled cross-play between PS4 and Xbox One, with the company later deactivating it. Nevertheless, it proved just how easy it would be for the feature to be implemented in not only Fortnite, but also any game. Following Epic’s decision to disable cross-play between the consoles, the Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, spoke up to say that he wanted the studio to leave it enabled. The Xbox boss made comments about the issue later on at the Brazil Game Show last year, saying Sony will likely never warm up to the idea of ever letting cross-play happen.
All things considered, it’s totally understandable why Sony is reluctant to allow cross-play to occur between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. After all, the concept of exclusivity has been one of the main proponents that has helped the company outsell Microsoft this generation, with there now being more than 70 million PS4 units sold. However, this shouldn’t have to apply to third-party titles that are already available on practically every other platform. If anything, Sony would do well to continue making excellent first-party releases exclusive to PlayStation such as Uncharted 4 and Horizon: Zero Dawn in order to have it stand out as a superb option from Xbox, but should also let its fans enjoy third-party games with those playing on other platforms to at the very least facilitate the possibility of a more connected and unified world.
Fortnite is available now in early access on iOS, PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.