At E3 this week, Nintendo announced that Fortnite would be coming to the Switch, and could cross-play with PC and Xbox One owners. Like always, Sony wants no part of that.
To be clear, Fortnite is available on the PlayStation 4. If you download the game, you can play with other PS4 owners. That’s it, though. Meanwhile, if you download Fortnite on the Xbox One, PC, or Switch, you can play games with players on any of those systems. That’s a handy feature to have when you’re playing a game with up to 100 people simultaneously.
That Sony would sit out cross-play shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The company resisted cross-play when it came to letting Fortnite players play with Xbox owners. It also blocked cross-play with Rocket League and Minecraft prior to that. Sony’s reason almost sounds reasonable, except when it doesn’t. Speaking to Eurogamer, a Sony rep said this:
We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft – the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.
Okay, sure, you don’t have control over someone else’s player base and so you can’t effectively manage potentially harassing or abusive players on another platform. That makes sense. Except…Nintendo has a much more family-oriented platform than either Microsoft or Sony, and they seem to manage? It’s unclear what challenge Nintendo is able to overcome that Sony feels is impossible.
Regardless, it’s Sony’s choice as to whether or not it supports cross-play with other platforms. Maybe they’re doing it to keep the children’s eyes and ears safe from griefers on other platforms. Maybe it’s because Sony knows there are more PS4 owners than Xbox One and Switch owners combined (for now) and doesn’t feel the need to compete. Either way, the PS4 may be a great console to own, but don’t get one with the expectation that you’ll be able to play with your non-PS4 friends any time soon.