With E3 having come and gone, many different announcements were made and a plethora of games were either announced or shown for the first time. Taking this into consideration, any one of these games could have been expected to lead news headlines in the aftermath of the event. Instead of a specific game reveal or a company purchase leading the news, the biggest headline from the event has been Sony’s decision to block cross-platform play of Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch. A lot of the headline’s popularity comes from the public outrage over this decision, but being in first place in the console war ultimately means Sony does not need to budge on cross-platform play.
In years past Nintendo has opted out of a live E3 press conference in favor of an edited video known as a Nintendo Direct. While this year’s Direct was disappointing overall, it did feature several key announcements, among those being Fortnite for the Nintendo Switch, which is available now. Given the Switch’s tremendous success since its release and its continuing sales, this decision seemed like a no-brainer. Since the release of its battle royale mode, Fortnite has exploded in popularity across the gaming industry. Despite the excitement behind this announcement, players quickly discovered a PS4 Fortnite account could not be used with the Switch in any capacity. The Internet community quickly took to social media to express their dislike towards Sony’s refusal to play nice with its direct competition, but Sony is in a position where it does not need to negotiate in order to continue to succeed.
According to Destructoid, as of April 2018, Sony shipped a total of 79 million PS4s worldwide. This puts Sony clearly in the driver’s seat compared to both Microsoft and Nintendo in terms of the total number of consoles soled. When one company is far away ahead of its competition, it reserves the right to dictate the market and the decisions it makes when collaborating with other companies. In the past Microsoft has publicly stated its desire to work with Sony when it comes to popular titles. However, cross-platform play directly benefits Microsoft at this point in time and there is a very good chance their stance would change if the situations were reversed. In fact, since 2015, Microsoft has not released its Xbox One sales statistics which can only mean it does not paint the picture favorably for the company.
This is not the first time Sony has been stubborn on the cross-platform play front. Previously, Sony also refused cross-platform play with Xbox users with titles such as Rocket League and Minecraft. When fans expressed displeasure with Sony’s refusal with those titles, the headlines came and went with no change on Sony’s part. The lack of cross-platform play with Fortnite is in line with Sony’s past decisions with those other games. This move is hardly surprising taking everything into account. While one may argue Fortnite’s popularity surpasses that of either Minecraft or Rocket League, Sony may very well believe the long term success of its product should take precedent over letting people play with their friends. By standing firm on the issue, someone may very well be inclined to purchase a PS4 to play with their friends rather than boycotting Sony altogether.
When one entity is in control, it often holds the keys to the castle. In this case, Sony is not playing nice with Microsoft or Nintendo because it is the clear winner with this generation. While the public outrage is currently at the forefront of the minds of many gamers, past instances with other games has shown this displeasure will pass, along with the headlines. By standing firm on the issue, Sony can maintain its lead and push people to buy more consoles in order to play with friends. Some may argue Sony has a moral obligation to back down and acquiesce to the pressure it is currently experiencing. While it may very well be true this would be healthy for the gaming community, Sony is concerned about its product first and foremost, and with the current generation of consoles being near their end, maintaining momentum going into the next generation is incredibly important.