One of the most genuinely exciting occurrences of this console generation has been seeing Nintendo and Microsoft put aside their differences to make cross-play on games like Rocket League, Minecraft, and now Fortnite possible. It has been equally frustrating to watch Sony resist this change, and that frustration came to a head at E3 this week as thousands of Switch owners who had previously played Fortnite on a PS4 discovered that they would be unable to carry over their progress if they had already linked their Epic account to a PlayStation Network account.
While the PS4 version of Fortnite does support cross-play on PC, Mac, and mobile devices, Sony seems to have no interest in working out a deal with Nintendo or Microsoft to make console cross-play a reality as well. In an interview with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann at E3 this week, Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, weighed in.
“So, obviously everybody has to run their own business,” Spencer said, clearly choosing his words carefully. “I was disappointed in the announcement and how it landed. I love the fact that it’s on Switch […] and we were really happy about how people could play, and not just play, but the things I’ve earned and my status [carries over].”
He then went on to give an example in which two parents each bought their kid a console. One received a PS4 and the other got an Xbox One. Both of those kids download Fortnite, expecting to be able to play together, but then find out that they can’t because the PS4 doesn’t support cross-play with the Xbox One.
“If it doesn’t help the developer, and it doesn’t help the consumer, then it doesn’t feel like it helps grow gaming to me,” Spencer concluded, offering his broadest take on the matter. “I wish people could get to play together.”
As Gerstmann points out (while playing devil’s advocate), Sony has a sizable lead over Microsoft in terms of console sales, which puts the Japanese company in a position of power, but consumers are not happy with Sony’s decision to take its ball and go home. It’s a massive bummer, and Sony is handling it incredibly poorly.