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Fortnite – Sony Is (Still) Talking Bollocks

Fortnite for Switch

Looks like Fortnite is back in the news again, but not in a good way. Ever since the PS4 account lock for Fortnite became public knowledge, Sony has been under justifiable pressure from gamers and media alike to allow cross-play with Fortnite. While I fundamentally believe that this constant pressure is needed, I’m under no illusions that this pressure will change things. Allow me to explain.

When interviewed at the IFA technology show in Berlin, Sony CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida, said the following regarding cross-play,

“On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief.”

Reading between the lines, this is Sony effectively saying that PlayStation is the best console. And because PlayStation is the best console, they won’t support cross-play with Fortnite. Yoshida continued, appearing to backpedal somewhat,

“But actually, we already opened some games as cross-platform with PC and some others, so we decide based on what is the best user experience. That is our way of thinking for cross-platform.”

Essentially, because Sony already support cross-play with some games on PC, that’s good enough. This is really Sony saying, “See? We do support cross-play. We do what we think is best for users.”

Of course, we know this is pure corporate PR bollocks. Sony doesn’t do what’s best for users.

In fact, Sony saying Fortnite is the “best experience for users” on PlayStation is a flat out lie. By not allowing cross-play, this is one less feature the PS4 version of Fortnite has compared to every other version of the game.

By definition, Fortnite on PS4 not the “best experience.” Quite the opposite, in fact. The PS4 version is Fortnite is the lesser experience. It’s a restricted version. It’s an inferior version. To claim otherwise is arrogance. Plain and simple.

Fallout 76

This arrogance isn’t new for Sony. Rather infamously, Sony’s mod support for Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition is pitiful compared to Xbox, and by extension, PC. By only supporting mods that are created using existing in-game assets, thus completely eliminating unique user created content, Fallout 4 and Skyrim Special Edition on PS4 are objectively lesser experiences compared to the Xbox, and even more so compared to PC.

Once again, this is Sony’s arrogance. So despite what Sony claims and wants people to believe, they clearly do not what’s best for user, nor do they care. Sony is a company. The only thing that ultimately matters is their bottom line. And nothing will change unless Sony’s bottom line is affected.

It’s not enough for consumers and media to rightfully keep up the pressure. Indeed, this article will not change a damn thing. I believe the party with the real power to affect Sony’s bottom line is the publishers.

To that end, Bethesda may not publish Elder Scrolls Legends on platforms that don’t support cross-play. Speaking to Game Informer, Bethesda’s Pete Hines said,

“It is our intention in order for the game to come out, it has to be those things on any system. We cannot have a game that works one way across everywhere else except for on this one thing. The way the game works right now on Apple, Google, Steam, and Bethesda.net, it doesn’t matter where you buy your stuff, if you play it on another platform that stuff is there. It doesn’t matter what platform you play on, you play against everyone else who is playing at that moment. There’s no ‘Oh, it’s easier to control, or it has a better framerate on this system.’ It’s a strategy card game. It doesn’t matter.

We continue to talk to all of our platform partners. But those [terms] are essentially non-negotiable.  We can’t be talking about one version of Legends, where you take your progress with you, and another version where you stay within that ecosystem or its walled off from everything else. That is counter to what the game has been about.”

Pete doesn’t mention Sony by name here, but his intent and implications are clear. The way things stand right now, Bethesda will not publish Elder Scrolls Legends on Sony’s machines.

While this may seem valiant of Bethesda, keep in mind, they’re a company too. They ultimately care about money. It’s easy for them to, at least outwardly for easy PR points, “take a stand” with a relatively smaller game like Legends because it’s simply not as big a risk as their larger IPs. Therefore, Sony wouldn’t necessarily feel major financial pain from losing a game like Legends.

If Bethesda wanted to “take a stand,” they should take a similar no-release approach with their larger IPs, like Fallout, Elder Scrolls, Wolfenstein, and the like should those IPs contain cross-play in their future iterations. Taking a no-release policy with their larger IPs will absolutely hurt Sony. But Bethesda would never do that because not releasing a major IP on a major platform will also significantly hurt their own bottom line.

In other words, taking a no-release policy with Legends incurs significantly less risk for Bethesda and Sony than with a much larger IP. And until we see publishers adopting a no-release policy with these larger riskier IPs, absolutely nothing will change.

The Elder Scrolls Legends

This should be obvious, but in today’s world where critical thinking and basic competence are almost completely absent, it bears repeating that these companies are not your friends. Of course, I’m talking about the contrast of Microsoft supporting cross-play — and being very loud about it — when Sony clearly doesn’t. To most people, this will seem like Microsoft are the good guys, that they, unlike Sony, really do have the consumers’ best interest in mind. This is folly. It’s naive. It’s just wrong.

The reason Sony isn’t supporting cross-play is simple. They can afford not to. They’re “winning” the console race. They can dictate the terms. Microsoft, on the other hand, must take a different approach. They won’t catch Sony in sales, so they need to approach the game with a different strategy. Rather than appeal to consumers’ wallets, they make a play for consumers’ hearts.

If the shoe was on the other foot — that is, if Microsoft was winning the console race and Sony was behind — do not doubt for one second that Microsoft would be adopting a similar policy as Sony.

Fortnite Android Beta

Don’t ever make the mistake of thinking one company is better than the other, or has better morals than the other. They’re companies. The only thing that ultimately matters to them is their bottom line — not me, not you, not this article.

Going to bat for these companies to defend them is asinine. It is an embarrassingly backwards mentality. Loyalty means nothing. Yes, Sony’s “explanation” for disallowing cross-play is pure bollocks. But never lose sight of the bigger picture.

The larger issue isn’t the lack of cross-play per se. That’s just a symptom. The larger issue is that these companies will say and do anything for your money. And once they have it, well, you’re just another drop in the bucket.

Think critically.

Written by
A highly opinionated avid PC gamer, Poorna blindly panics with his friends in various multiplayer games, much to the detriment of his team. Constantly questioning industry practices and a passion for technological progress drive his love for the video game industry. He pulls no punches and tells it like he sees it. He runs a podcast, Gaming The Industry, with fellow writer, Joseph Bradford, discussing industry practices and their effects on consumers.

1 Comment

  1. “Think critically.”

    No.

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