In a huge policy u-turn, Sony has announced today that they will be opening an extended beta to allow cross-play for Fortnite players on PlayStation 4. John Kodera, president and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, has indicated that the move is just the first step toward supporting cross-platform features for "select third party content" in this PlayStation blog post.
Launching today, the beta will support gameplay, progression, and commerce in Fortnite across all platforms, including PC and mobile as well as other consoles. Kodera has described 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."
Sony's article suggests that the beta should remove the restriction that many fans had complained about of blocking players from syncing progression and items between their Fortnite account on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Previously, players had to open a second Epic Games account to even play on another platform if they had already played on PS4.
The move will come as a surprise to some as it was only in August that Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida told The Independent "On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief." However, as we pointed out in our article at the time, this ran contrary to comments made by SIE America CEO Shawn Layden to Eurogamer earlier in the year. In that interview, Layden suggested that Sony was looking into the possibility of cross-platform play.
While the cross-platform portion of Fortnite on PS4 is currently described as in beta, this move will give Sony fans hope that these features will be extended to other games in future. Kodera expanded on this point in the PlayStation blog article, saying,
Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players. 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 closed out the article by telling players that Sony is currently in the planning stage for how this change will affect other games and that more information will be provided on this and the beta timescale at a later date.
Are you excited by the prospect of cross-play (finally) coming to Fortnite on PS4? Has Sony made the right move or are they exposing children to external influences they have no control over? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments.