The ongoing saga between Sony and Microsoft’s cross-play battles has taken another twist today. Epic Games originally announced cross-play and cross-progression earlier this week between the PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, iOS, and eventually the Android versions of the game. While Microsoft’s Xbox One was missing from the list, the company revealed last night that it will support cross-play on Fortnite for Xbox and that it will be available in the future.
Unfortunately, that cross-play won’t happen between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One players. Epic Games’ Nick Chester revealed on Twitter today that Xbox One players will only be able to play Fortnite with PC, Mac, and mobile players, and PS4 players will also be limited to play against PC, Mac, and mobile. It’s now clear that PS4 vs. Xbox One Fortnite cross-play will not be supported, despite there being no technical reason it can’t work. Epic Games briefly enabled the cross-play last year, and PS4 and Xbox One gamers were able to play against each other due to a “configuration issue.”
Sony vs. Microsoft on cross-play
Microsoft has publicly committed to cross-play, and has pushed Sony to allow PS4 players to play against Xbox One gamers. Still, it’s unlikely that Microsoft would be encouraging this type of cross-network play if it was still in a position of power and selling the most consoles in the US each month. Sony has previously refused to enable cross-play between PS4 and Xbox One for both Rocket League and Minecraft, despite Microsoft and Nintendo both supporting it across Xbox One, PC, and Switch. Sony’s excuse for blocking PlayStation and Xbox cross-platform play was hostile, blaming “exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after.”
That excuse is no longer valid with Fortnite cross-play between PS4, PC, Mac, and mobile, but it’s not clear why Sony, Epic Games, or Microsoft isn’t supporting PS4 vs. Xbox One. It’s likely there’s a complicated set of reasons, ranging from Sony’s competitive advantage over Xbox One sales, to Microsoft’s console exclusive with Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds. Epic Games is dodging the question right now, and Sony and Microsoft aren’t being upfront about the reasons. It’s a sad state of affairs that mutual customers and friends can’t play a game they enjoy with each other because of corporate politics, but it looks like it’s just another day in the video game industry.