Fortnite is undeniably one of the biggest games in the world, but today we saw an example of just how big it is. Sony’s long-standing (and, frankly, embarrassing) stance against cross-play with other consoles is finally coming to an end, and Fortnite is pretty much leading the charge.
Developer Epic Games has been vocal in the past about wanting Sony to embrace cross-play (alongside developers like Psyonix and Bethesda), and actually accidentally enabled the feature briefly last year. Sony even caused a big headache for Epic during Fortnite’s launch on Switch as players who had previously played on PS4 discovered their accounts couldn’t carry over – an issue Sony didn’t have much to say about at the time.
The Fortnite bear had been metaphorically poked at that point, and the conversation around cross-play noticeably shifted. Sony said they were “confident we’ll get to a solution” later that month, and even when they defended their stance they did so in the context of Fortnite.
The building battle royale was the straw that broke the loot llama’s back, as Sony said Fortnite is just the first of “select third-party content” to get cross-play with other consoles. It’s not a stretch to think this change wouldn’t have come (or at least not as quickly) without Fornite’s Switch launch being marred by controversy.
Impressively, this isn’t even the first time Epic has influenced a first-party developer into overturning a stupid decision for Fortnite. The Switch’s almost comically inconvenient voice chat phone app that’s mandatory for most online multiplayer games is ignored entirely by Fornite, allowing you to plug a regular headset directly into the system instead.
That’s something people had previously thought was a technical impossibility, but apparently, you just have to be the biggest game in the world to get it to work. Nintendo has been notoriously cautious about letting its generally younger-skewing player base talk with strangers online. But Fortnite was an instant exception to this, and since then Nintendo has even added the ability to talk to strangers online in Mario Kart 8 Deluxe – assuming you use the phone app.
Fortnite is so pervasive that it’s currently the only game in the world that is being sold in bundles with all three major consoles – despite being a free-to-play game. Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo all recognize the influence it has and wants the Fortnite logo on their box, and they’re clearly willing to compromise previously held policies or decisions to make Epic comfortable.
I don’t think Fortnite is going to be this big forever, but it’s a level of popularity that I’ve never really seen for a third-party game before, and one we may not see for a long time after. Thankfully for all of us, so far Epic seems to be wielding their power to help push through changes that are best for gamers. Here’s hoping they don’t suddenly turn evil and make trackballs mandatory for all future controllers.
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