There's a 'dumb reason' why PlayStation and Xbox gamers can't play online together, according to a former Sony insider

Business Insider US

  • Sony's decision to restrict PlayStation 4 owners from playing "Fortnite" with gamers on the Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Xbox sparked an uproar in recent weeks.
  • According to one former Sony executive, the company's decision wasn't all that surprising.
  • John Smedley, the former president of Sony Online Entertainment and the general manager of Amazon Game Studios, suggested that the "simple" reason was for financial gain.

Sony's decision to restrict PlayStation 4 owners from playing Epic Games's smash-hit "Fortnite" with players on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox sparked an uproar. Worse yet, if you started playing "Fortnite" on the PlayStation 4, you couldn't bring your purchased items with you to those other consoles. 

According to a former Sony developer, the company's stance on this matter isn't all that surprising.

"When I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money," John Smedley, the former Sony Online Entertainment president and general manager of Amazon Game Studios, said in a tweet on Monday. "They didn't like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a PlayStation."

"Simple as that," Smedley added. "Dumb reason, but there it is."

Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Although Fortnite players on the PlayStation are able to play with other PC, Mac, iOS, and Android players, they are still restricted from using their accounts on the Xbox and Switch. PlayStation owners playing the game are also walled off from Xbox and Switch players.

Meanwhile, players on the Xbox and Switch — the latter of which recently amassed more than 2 million downloads in the first 24 hours of its release on June 12 — are playing the game without restrictions.

The lack of Fortnite cross-play between the PlayStation and other consoles was met with backlash from players. Players who linked their Epic Games account to their PlayStation 4 were faced with a message saying that their account "does not allow it to operate on Switch."

Sony's subsequent response, which said it was "open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in," was also slammed by critics and rallied the PlayStation community.

"If we keep the pressure up this problem goes away," Smedley said in response to the controversy.

Fortnite, which gained a cult-like following after its release in 2017, became one of the biggest hits in gaming with an estimated 125 million players. The free-to-play game capitalises on the widely-popular "Battle Royale" gameplay, which pits players against each other until one is left standing.

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