Fortnite finally launched for the Nintendo Switch this week and already eclipsed two million downloads, yet depending on who you ask, its release was not pretty. The match made in heaven between Nintendo's hit hybrid system and the most popular battle royale game on the planet was seen coming a mile away, but the anticipated union came at a cost none were privy to before a rocky release.
It's no secret that Sony was never fond of the idea of cross-platform play with Microsoft and Nintendo. They made that perfectly clear when Minecraft and Rocket League were among the first announced with the consumer-friendly multiplayer between Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch, among others, with PlayStation 4 firmly separating itself from the pack. It's not a matter of impossibility as the technology is already ready and waiting, but rather one of Sony choosing not to lift its own cross-network barriers on multiplatform third-party games under the excuse of children's safety, according to now-Deputy President of PlayStation Jim Ryan.
This week, however, is a new low altogether for the company, as PS4 and Switch owners were rightfully angry to discover they could not log in to their Epic Games accounts on the Switch if they had used that same account on their PS4s in the past. With Sony effectively taking Epic Games accounts hostage in a needlessly aggressive anti-consumer move, this means that Fortnite players who wish to access their saves on the Switch are completely barred from doing so, losing out on countless hours of progress and untold amounts of money spent for their personalized experience. This is on top of the unsurprising lack of cross-platform multiplayer with other consoles.
When the BBC approached Sony on the controversy, the company's response simply amounted to a comment about the size of the PlayStation 4's install base and how its existing cross-play compatibility with computers and mobile devices for Fortnite was good enough on its own:
"We're always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience. Fortnite is already a huge hit with PS4 fans, offering a true free-to-play experience so gamers can jump in and play online. With 79 million PS4s sold around the world and more than 80 million monthly active users on PlayStation Network, we've built a huge community of gamers who can play together on Fortnite and all online titles. We also offer Fortnite cross-play support with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, expanding the opportunity for Fortnite fans on PS4 to play with even more gamers on other platforms." — Sony Interactive Entertainment
Heads of Microsoft and Nintendo had already shared their own responses on the issue. Xbox's Director Larry "MajorNelson" Hryb went on Twitter after word of the PS4-Switch Fortnite conundrum first broke, and advised Fortnite fans on how to link their Xbox One and Epic Games accounts to the Nintendo Switch version of the game to preserve their progress across both systems. Nintendo of America's Reggie Fils-Aimé, on the other hand, took a more pointed jab at Sony when speaking with IGN: "What competitors do is their decision to make. We believe being both developer-forward and fan-forward is in the best interest of the game."
Meanwhile, PlayStation social media channels continue to be hounded by both Fortnite players affected by the account locks and cross-platform supporters.
What do you make of the Fortnite locking issue? Are you a PS4 and Switch owner whose Epic Games account was affected? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.