For the last few years, Microsoft has been locked in a frustrating conversation with Sony about cross-play between the PS4 and Xbox One. Essentially, Sony has been behaving like a big old party pooper and stopping cross-play. However, Fortnite is bucking the trend and cross-play between the rival consoles is now in beta.
It is worth pointing out that Sony has absolutely been the problem in developing cross-play on consoles. Microsoft announced last year it was making Minecraft a cross-play title. The game is now available on PC, Xbox, Mobile, and Nintendo Switch. All gamers experience a unified Minecraft experience, apart from those on Sony.
The Japanese company has remained steadfast in refusing to embrace cross-play. Sony reasons it cannot trust the security of integrations with other platforms, like Xbox Live. Microsoft has criticized this stance, but it now seems there has been a breakthrough.
Fortnite is the biggest game on the planet right now and possibly the biggest cultural phenomenon period. In other words, if Microsoft's protests to Sony to implement cross-play have failed, maybe Epic Games would succeed.
Just this month, Sony re-iterated it would not allow Fortnite cross-play on the PS4. So, in the last few weeks something has changed, because Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PS4 gamers can now play together in beta:
“For 24 years, we have strived to deliver the best gaming experience to our fans by providing a uniquely PlayStation perspective. Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”
This is certainly a surprise as Sony has literally performed a 180 on a stance it has held for over a year. Interestingly, this 180 has been performed within the space of a month.
Importantly, this is not just a Fortnite deal. Sony says it will also support other titles, although the company says the supported games will be limited. While we don't expect this to include Minecraft just yet, there is at least hope.
Now, in an unexpected turn of events, Sony has gone ahead and started an open beta program for cross-platform play, letting PlayStation 4 owners play against those using an Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The feature is initially available exclusively in Fortnite, and Sony says it will only allow it for select titles, but it's a step forward nonetheless.