SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 14 — Under pressure from fans and competitors, Fortnite drove Sony to reconsider its stance toward cross-platform multiplayer — or prove that every rule has an exception.
Free 100-player action game Fortnite expanded in a big way in 2018, having attracted tacit celebrity endorsements from the worlds of sport and music — football players were recreating its celebration dances at the Fifa World Cup — as the video game moved from home console and computer to mobile and then Nintendo Switch.
That expansion ended up having big repercussions for a decades-old policy that kept console players separated by brand and kept momentum up for whichever manufacturer was selling the most consoles.
For Fortnite players coming in from the mobile sphere, that segregation was already something of an oddity; a general air of device agnosticism allows games, apps, and social network services to function across iOS and Android.
But when Fortnite launched on the Nintendo Switch in June, players were annoyed and disappointed to find they couldn’t use their original Fortnite accounts if they had already played on PlayStation 4, grating against a sense of divide-crossing community baked into the Fortnite experience.
PlayStation had allowed cross-platform between its own consoles, where applicable, from 2013; Xbox introduced a Play Anywhere policy for Xbox One and Windows 10 PC games in 2016.
It took two months of intense pressure over the enormously popular Fortnite for Sony to roll back on a policy that Microsoft and Nintendo, both trailing PlayStation’s total current console sales, had very publicly softened with a special “Minecraft” update in June.
How far that Fortnite change applies to other games is something that remains to be seen.