Imagine a perfect world, if you will, where users of any console can interact with any player on the same game, regardless of the platform of their choice. And we’re close to that with games like Rocket League and Minecraft allowing cross-play between PC, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch—with Sony’s Playstation 4 being the odd isolationist one out. But yesterday the dream was a reality on Fortnite, if but for mere hours.
Reddit users on the Fortnite subreddit observed something unusual while playing Epic’s fort-building survival game on the Playstation 4: An opposing player had a username with a space in it. This may not seem like a big deal to the average player, but this username is impossible by Playstation Network standards, which only allow for dashes and underscores in lieu of spaces. Xbox Live, however, does allow this—these Redditors concluded that they had just played with Xbox One users through some sort of unannounced cross-play.
This new “feature” was more of a bug, unfortunately—hours later, this problem (which Epic called a “configuration issue” to outlets including Kotaku) was fixed, and inhabitants of the Playstation and Xbox communities were sadly once again left to their own separate and incompatible worlds. Knowing how easy it would be for a developer to turn on cross-play makes it all the more frustrating (a Rocket League developer compared it to simply pushing a button). Why can’t cross-play just be the new normal?
The answer lies with Sony’s stubbornness. Speaking to Eurogamer back in June, Playstation head of global sales and marketing Jim Ryan cited the “responsibility to [their] install base,” and how Sony cannot be responsible for what Playstation users might see in something like Minecraft from other platforms. A bit ironic, seeing as how Nintendo is usually the one overprotecting children with asinine concepts like friend codes, yet they’re game for cross-play.
But admittedly, as much as consumers may want cross-play, Sony probably would not have any business gain from such a move. While we might want to get Destiny 2 without worrying which console our friends have it for, Sony would rather that whole group of people have it for Playstation 4.
But head of Xbox Phil Spencer wants to keep the dream alive, tweeting this in response to the Fortnite snafu:
A player sure can dream.