Former Sony Developer Says PlayStation’s Cross-Platform Block Is “All About Money”

It’s something that’s so obvious that it could almost go without saying, but former Sony and Daybreak developer John Smedley has said that the reason for Sony blocking the ability to link your third party accounts or play cross-platform on PlayStation 4 is all about money.

It’s an issue that has been the source of some public backlash in the past for a refusal to allow cross-platform multiplayer in games like Rocket League and Minecraft, but has come back to the fore after the release of Fortnite Battle Royale for Nintendo Switch and many PS4 players finding that they cannot log into their Epic account and have absolutely no recourse.


“When I was at Sony,” he tweeted, “the stated reason internally for this was money. They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation.”

While obvious, no industry insider has put it quite so plainly as this until now. It’s also clear that, as the current market leader, Sony have little to gain from being open in this manner, while Xbox and Nintendo do have something to gain. Those players jilted by not being able to use their Fortnite account on Switch are more likely to turn to PS4 once more, which is also where their existing group of friends will be. For online games such as this, it’s clear why Sony won’t want to open their walled garden.

At the same time, Sony might consider how it can go against them going forward. If people embrace this kind of openness on other platforms it can mean that PS4 owners start eyeing up purchases on other consoles. I’m personally playing Fortnite on Switch and Xbox instead of PS4 because of this.

Source: John Smedley via Eurogamer

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  1. In games with only cosmetic items purchasable with money the developers could just make cosmetic items bought on one platform simply not appear on another.

    That would have a negative impact for the devs though I imagine, how can they advertise cosmetics to players if a large portion of the playerbase won’t even see it?
    Probably why they’re just staying quiet and content to let the pressure build on Sony.

    • Yes, much easier to convince some people it’s all Sony’s fault and keep quiet about it.

      Handling it any other way would cost money. Presumably they’re short on money and the game isn’t very popular and has no chance of making big sackfuls of money. And it’s not in any way Epic’s fault.

      Meanwhile, in the real world, it’s got about 4 billion players, the developers are probably sleeping on a big bed made out of money (notes, not coins, I assume), they’re too lazy or stupid to fix it, and nobody thinks “making money” is a “dumb reason”.

      • no need to be rude, I was just merely stating the fact that one solution to the problem, which would require no change to sony’s policy, would not be attractive to developers because it harms the value of the products they’re trying to sell in the game.

        It was an impartial assessment and I don’t support either party, because quite frankly I don’t care.
        Now get back in your kennel and stop making yourself look so silly.

      • Unless you work for Epic, I’m not sure why you’re upset at me being rude (or my usual excessively sarcastic) about them.

      • Epic should definitely be doing a lot more to make people aware just how far the restrictions go, and it’s not entirely clear whether it’s a dumb technical issue or policy that prevents people from disassociating their accounts once linked, but on the whole this does seem to be Sony’s policies.

  2. How ridiculous. ‘Get over it’ springs to mind.

    Remember when everyone reached out to Sony last gen when they were struggling… *crickets* no, me either. Good on Sony for standing their ground and not giving in to the demands of a small percentage of entitled gamers, who want to have their cake and eat it.

    As long as Sony are the only platform making killer exclusives, they really have nothing to worry about.

    Wow, that sounds way more spirited than I intended but hey, #teamSony!

    • Sony, the king of game exclusives, because they’re experts at excluding people xD

  3. Look at this way. If you buy a movie, a digital purchase, on Amazon, can you watch it on Sky?


    So why should consoles be any different.

    • Look at (it) this way. If you buy a movie, on Amazon through PS4, can you watch it on Xbox?


      So why should any third party account/content be any different.

      Oh wait, because Sony can cream more money off. Hey, it’s just modern business practice. Sony don’t have to play along.

      Hi I’m Sony. I’ve made so much money selling consoles, I don’t care what customers want anymore.

      Best business move Sony can make is to remove the account restrictions. They’re just shooting themselves in the foot like Xbox did by allowing the negative PR to take root, not to mention that extra money from fortnite microtransactions they might loose because, well, they’re locked to PS4.

      • … Because Amazon is a service which the PS4 and Xbox are enabling you to use on their consoles, not a game that was specifically bought to use on that ‘games’ console.

      • And if Sony were so evil, they not allow you to buy movies on Amazon and watch them on the PS4. Or they’d be like Apple and demand a percentage of the money if you buy them using the Amazon app on the PS4.

        But they don’t.

        And when it comes to games, the only issue seems to be a quite reasonable “if you buy content for the game on the PS4, you’re not allowed to use it on other platforms”. Which Epic seem incapable of handling. Because that’d involve doing some extra work to stop you using it on other platforms, and I guess to stop things showing up to other players not on PS4. Are there not exclusive PS4 items? Could they not only allow those to be visible to PS4 players?

        It must be great to be in a situation where your game is so popular you think the rules shouldn’t apply to you. Especially when it’s the rules of the platform that was so important in your success.

        How many of the people moaning about it does it actually affect though? How much of the fuss is down to certain websites with a strong bias towards MS trying to stir up shit?

      • @Dave – Fortnite isn’t far off the Amazon comparison. It’s a free download and you can create a (theoretically) platform agnostic user account. You can purchase microtransaction currency on PC or mobile and then use that to buy the in-game skins and battle pass. Depending on which consoles you have it connected to, those purchases cross boundaries either PS4, PC and Mobile or XBO, Switch, PC and Mobile.

        @MrYd – We don’t know the absolute policies. No other game that I can think of has the same unified third party accounts as Epic, with the intent of letting you buy once from Epic and play anywhere. War Thunder, for example, lets people play across platforms but you need to have separate accounts on PS4, XBO and PC.

    • I dunno, seems to me like games sit separately from other services. We don’t expect to buy currency in any other online game and have it available in that same game on another platform, e.g. GTA shark cards, right? I assume you buy Fortnite stuff through the respective stores but even multi platform games like Elite that have their own stores don’t let you use your content on all platforms. Seems like Sony shouldn’t be getting so much grief for this.

      • I think for some people it’s more about their account being locked to PS4. It’s true that other developers offer content only for use on a single platform, but there’s a touch of playground antics in saying that you play with us once, don’t count on using your account with another platform holder.

        I also don’t thing the quibble is about something like Xbox access which is no surprise, but how Sony is not including the Switch which is not direct competition and is a second console to many people.

      • It’s just an excuse for the disgruntled, anti-Sony brigade to have a dig (including this obviously disgruntled former employee).

        Plus, some people just don’t like seeing a company they dislike doing well. Especially when their own personal allegiances have left them with far too much time on their hands, as a result of having too few games to play. Or too few games of any worth.

        I’ll wager most of the more vocal detractors, don’t even own a PS4. Or maybe they bought one and sold it because it was ‘gathering dust’. Right… More likely they had a bad experience with Sony customer services in the PS2/PS3 days and are still holding a grudge. Misreading Sony’s failure to meet their unreasonable demands as ‘arrogance’, when it is anything but.

        No, Sony are the bad guys… because after a few pretty rough years (financially) and rumors of bankruptcy, they managed to turn things around, following some fairly extensive restructuring. God forbid they want their company to succeed and do well.

        Sony worked hard to gain biggest share of the market, the best first party studios and arguably the greatest exclusive games. They have sculpted the Playstation brand into a desirable and exclusive platform. Removing that exclusivity potentially weakens Sony’s position IMO and has a direct impact on one of their key strengths this gen (market share – deserved market share).

        If you want to play with your Playstation friends but you don’t have a Playstation… buy a Playstation. Simple. More Playstations sold equals more profit for Sony equals more benefits for Playstation players.

        If you want to use your Fornite account on other platforms, having reaped the benefit of the increased player count and overall improved experience on the PS4, tough. I’m sorry, but sometimes in the real world, the answer is simply ‘NO!’

        Sony are right to protect their interests and the interests of their userbase, 99% of which are likely unaffected by what some would lead you to believe is a ‘huge issue’.

        It’s a non-issue and Sony should continue to treat it as such.

      • I hope that was a draft for a comedy sketch, and not a serious comment.

      • :D

  4. It’s not the cross play thats the problem. It’s the battle pass and progression. It wouldn’t hurt them to let you carry that between consoles. All the other companies with fortnite are letting this happen but not sony. This is the real reason for the anger. Not cross play.

  5. Most people own one console per generation and traditionally stick with a brand through the generations. Of course there are exceptions – the beginning of last gen PS3 lost some users to Xbox and this gen the opposite happened, perhaps on a more drastic scale. But unless i’m missing something, it would appear that this functionality would only serve a minority of gamers.

    But if it absolutely should be a thing – then i’d like Amazon and Netflix to allow me to stream for free all those movies i purchased on Bluray but have stored away inconveniently in my parents home 50 miles away.

    • There was an attempt to do that. Buy a movie on Bluray or digitally, and stream it from any service it’s available on. Assuming the service was available in your country. And had the film you wanted to watch. And worked on whatever device you wanted to use.

      Kind of failed, unsurprisingly. For being weird and complicated and not having Disney on board.

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