Cross-platform play, also known as cross-play, allows gamers to play online games together even if they are using different hardware. Game developers tend to view this as a positive move because it allows them to increase their user-base. However, some hardware manufacturers, such as PlayStation, have been hesitant to allow cross-play due to the complexities involved, the potential security issues, and (presumably) the desire for exclusivity.
Games such as Fortnite have been breaking down the barriers between gamers using different hardware, by allowing them to play online games together. Until today, PlayStation have not permitted their users to join in, meaning that PlayStation 4 gamers could only play an online game with other PlayStation users.
That is all set to change today, as Sony have announced that PlayStation 4 gamers will now be able to play Fortnite alongside users of the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC/Mac, Android, and iOS. The cross-play is currently in beta and only available with Fortnite, but if the trial is successful then it may be opened up to other game titles.
Source: Epic Games
John Kodera, the President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, has released a statement saying "For 24 years, we have strived to deliver the best gaming experience to our fans by providing a uniquely PlayStation perspective. Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players. In recognition of this, we have completed a thorough analysis of the business mechanics required to ensure that the PlayStation experience for our users remains intact today, and in the future, as we look to open up the platform.
He continues, "This represents a major policy change for SIE, and we are now in the planning process across the organisation to support this change. We will update the community once we have more details to share, including more specifics regarding the beta timeframe, and what this means for other titles going forward."
The move has been widely welcomed by gamers, and hopefully is a sign of other positive changes to come.