Sony has finally stopped fighting the future: A beta for cross-platform play, including support for Fortnite, launches today.
“The first step will be an open beta beginning today for Fortnite that will allow for cross platform gameplay, progression and commerce across PlayStation 4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows, and Mac operating systems,” PlayStation president and global CEO John Kodera wrote on the PlayStation Blog. “We see the beta as an opportunity to conduct thorough testing that ensures cross-platform play is best on PlayStation, while being mindful about the user experience from both a technical and social perspective.”
This is a major reversal of its longstanding policy of keeping PlayStation fans segregated from the rest of the industry, after arguing that cross-platform play might even be unsafe. Others in the industry had argued that the policy was due to monetary concerns. Many publishers, including Bethesda, had been pressuring Sony to make this change, and developers such as Psyonix have already spoken openly about how easy the change would be to implement from their end.
There is very little other information given about how the beta will work or how to sign up to participate in it. The blog post also states that only “selected” third-party content will be playable across different platforms. The post does make it clear, however, that this was a change in the industry that Sony couldn’t continue to ignore.
“Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players,” Kodera explained. “In recognition of this, we have completed a thorough analysis of the business mechanics required to ensure that the PlayStation experience for our users remains intact today, and in the future, as we look to open up the platform.”
Update (Sept. 27): Shawn Layden, the chief executive of SIE Worldwide Studios, discussed the beta and cross-console play on this week’s PlayStation Blogcast. He said that allowing cross-console play was “not about flipping a switch ... it’s very multi-dimensional. ... It took longer than I would have wanted, but it took as long as it had to.”
Layden said that following the beta, he expects the PS4 will see other games supporting cross console play. “I think certainly once we can prove this is holding together, sturdy and well, I would anticipate seeing other games in the service,” he said.