An estimated 125 million people are playing “Fortnite" worldwide. The game is doing something that most other major ones have failed to do — bring together gamers from across all platforms. All but one, that is.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 is the holdout. The console doesn’t allow cross-platform gameplay for its customers. And it’s hurting Sony's bottom line.
Crossplay means you can play “Fortnite" with an Xbox against users on iOS, PC, Mac, and now Nintendo Switch. Sony is known to block crossplay with rival systems. It made its “no crossplay” rule famous when the company blocked it for the hit game "Rocket League" in 2017. But with “Fortnite" rising in popularity, gamers thought this was the one that would change Sony’s mind.
In June, Nintendo announced it was jumping into the world of “Fortnite.” The game was downloaded 2 million times in the Nintendo Marketplace within the first 24 hours. The Nintendo version of the game would also be compatible with all platforms, including its competitor Xbox One.
But unlike Microsoft and Nintendo, Sony still has yet to announce a change in its ban. The backlash toward Sony took the internet by storm earlier this year. PlayStation gamers were outraged that they couldn't play “Fortnite" against friends and family who own other systems.
Meanwhile, others found themselves locked out of their "Fortnite" accounts. If you created your account on Sony’s PS4, you couldn't access it from any other gaming consoles such as Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
Sony shares dropped 2 percent during the controversy in January.
Sony's decision has nothing to do with software or hardware compatibility. It all comes down to where people are making in-game purchases. “Fortnite" has its own in-game currency called V-Bucks, which players can acquire with real cash to buy player upgrades.
If you bought V-Bucks on your Xbox and used them to buy new character skins on iOS or PC, those platforms wouldn't share in the revenue. Sony fears it would be losing out on a ton of money by letting in V-Bucks that were bought elsewhere.
In May, “Fortnite" made $318 million in total revenue. According to gaming research firm SuperData, consoles generate the majority of the game’s monthly revenue. Sony is the market leader in gaming, having sold more than 76 million consoles.
But even with that hardware advantage, its plan to be the one-stop shop for their community of "Fortnite" players may end up doing more harm than good. Sony’s crossplay ban may end up isolating the gaming giant from the wider world of “Fortnite.”
And that could ultimately slam its profits.