Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has weighed in the Fortnite crossplay issue, which lets every platform play with each other except between Xbox and PlayStation 4, stating that he also wishes crossplay between the consoles happened. The Fortnite account also chimed in to support the sentiment.
A Fortnite fan tweeted to Spencer last night, asking “I wanted to ask that can XB1 and PS4 players play together in Fortnite? We really want cross-play system between XB1 and PS4 “
Spencer, now part of Microsoft’s executive team, replied “Me 2.”
Then the official Fortnite account latched on to that post and said “We 3!”
While Microsoft’s desire to enact crossplay with the PlayStation 4 has been well know, Epic have always been fairly muted about it. They expressed disappointment over the accidental crossplay of Fortnite being turned off before Battle Royale ever came out, much less before it became popular, but the situation has changed fairly greatly since then.
Sony has traditionally been reluctant to do crossplay with either of its console competitors, with the public reasoning being a desire to protect younger players from the different standards on Xbox One and Switch, though a logical business decision would be that allowing crossplay gives up a competitive advantage of having the highest install base. Similarly, it is advantageous for Microsoft and Nintendo to allow crossplay and make the decision of where to buy software less about where other people own it. When Microsoft was leading the generation with the Xbox 360, the company scoffed at crossplay.
In a statement to Kotaku, a Microsoft representative said “We’ve worked closely with Nintendo to allow cross-network play between Xbox One and Switch and our offer to do the same with PlayStation players still holds. For any other questions regarding ‘Fortnite’ cross-network play between Xbox and PlayStation, please reach out to Epic or Sony directly.”
With Fortnite becoming so popular, boasting concurrent player numbers over PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the developer argument for crossplay is getting louder. Epic has been having to deal with the confusion over their dual announcements of crossplay and would rather just have every version play with every other version.
Then again, if PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds came to the PlayStation 4 as PUBG Corp. has suggested they want to do, would Microsoft be keen to crossplay there having published the game on the Xbox One? That’s one of many questions that might arise around the company’s desire to have both teams on the same playing field.
As it stands, the Xbox One, PC, Mac, and mobile versions of Fortnite can play with each other. The PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and mobile versions can also play with each other.
It’s definitely in Microsoft’s best interest to have crossplay with PS4, but it’s also in Epic’s best interest to have crossplay with everyone. That starts to present a problem for Sony, because a growing chorus of developers feeling like they’re leaving money on the table because of this policy will eventually become deafening. It’s one thing if Microsoft is asking, or an indie developer is asking, but Epic is a major partner. On the other hand, Sony can be pretty assured no developer will abandon them over it, so they might not have to worry at all.