The lack of PS4 cross-play in Fortnite and other games can be chalked up to money, according to former Sony developer John Smedley. The ex-boss of Daybreak Game Company, formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment, said that he saw the rationale first-hand when he was at the company.
“[W]hen I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money,” he said in a tweet (via Eurogamer). “They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. simple as that. dumb reason, but there it is.” This was presented in the context of telling fans to keep up the pressure.
In other words, Sony doesn’t want players to purchase content for Fortnite on one platform and still experience it on their own. This situation has come up before in other popular online games like Rocket League, and comments from Phil Spencer made it clear it wasn’t Xbox blocking the pipes. At the time, Psyonix said it could activate the feature anytime it had Sony’s approval. After cross-play was temporarily and accidentally enabled for Fortnite, Spencer more pointedly said he would have liked to see them leave it on.
Sony has roundly faced criticism over keeping its online games in a walled garden, most recently with Fortnite due to its massive popularity and recent launch on Nintendo Switch. Sony issued a response to the backlash, but it didn’t exactly assuage concerns. Instead, it sounds like Sony plans to stay the course:
“We’re always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience,” a Sony representative said. “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.”