'Fortnite' Gets Crossplay on PS4, but Here's Why Most Games Likely Won't Use It

Fortnite fans and the games industry rejoiced Wednesday morning when Sony announced it would implement crossplay and cross-progression features on select PS4 titles. While this could end up being a watershed moment in the medium's future, here are five reasons its adoption on PS4 won't be as swift as some would like.

1) Sony is Still Cautious: Sony's announcement of this "major policy change" comes with obvious air of caution from the hardware maker. The feature will roll out as part of a nondescript beta that only includes Fortnite. That name carries a ton of weight these days, and it's precisely why Sony chose to use the game as an example.

But not every game is as big as Fortnite. Sony's restraint on the matter seems to imply that only the largest of juggernaut franchises will be able to take advantage of crossplay in its early months. We're already seeing signs of hesitation from Sony in the case of Fallout 76. Despite Bethesda's pleas for freedom, that game still won't support it. At least for now, crossplay opportunities seem to be very, very exclusive.

2) Development Difficulty: Given the various server outages and glitches that happen in our favorite multiplayer games on a daily basis, it's no secret that developers continue to find managing virtual environments with large audiences difficult, even on segmented platforms. With the introduction of crossplay, you're asking network engineers to design games in ways that may be foreign to them. Because of that, the feature will likely take some time to adopt.

In order for crossplay to work on all third-party games, developers need to create their own separate account systems that carry the bulk of the weight a hardware maker like Sony or Microsoft might normally handle. Larger publishers are pretty well equipped for a shift like that, but they may not want to spend the time on it until the tech improves. Games take long enough to make as is. Initially, crossplay is probably a bridge too far for many teams to consider.

3) Exclusivity Deals: As platform exclusivity slowly fades away, many developers are increasingly starting to favor timed DLC deals. It offers a nice perk for owners of the beneficiary console, but can create a serious headache when it comes to something like crossplay.

Destiny 2 Wavesplitter PS4 crossplay
How do timed-exclusive weapons like this exist in a world with crossplay? Bungie/Activision

Take a game like Destiny 2, for example. The sequel continues its established relationship with Sony, and that means it features timed-exclusive Strikes and Exotics on PS4. How can that work when playing with others on Xbox who don't have the same progression opportunities or guns as you? Crossplay potentially creates problems for balance in competitive play. As such, it might not be worth the risk of thinking about.

4) Monetization is Messy: A big part of the reason crossplay was such a sticking point with Sony is because the monetization behind it is still fairly messy. In Fortnite's case, someone can purchase a Battle Pass on Switch, for example, then use it on PS4 without Sony ever seeing a cent of profit from that purchase.

Fortnite Battle Pass
Sony is fine letting money go on Battle Passes, but would it feel differently about a larger Season Pass? Epic Games

That dilemma still exists today as much as it did on Monday, but Sony seems willing to forfeit the cash for a free-to-play game as massive as Fortnite. The economics get far messier, though, when purchases are larger than a few bucks at a time. Is Sony really going to allow someone to purchase an entire Call of Duty Season Pass on Xbox and then use those maps on PS4? That's a much larger shift of money, which could further complicate the transaction.

5) Performance: While most gamers seem to be OK with disregarding this particular hurdle, it's going to be another question in the minds of developers when they make games with crossplay. Especially as the initiative moves forward with service-based experiences, where does one draw the line when hardware differences potentially make competition unfair?

Today's developers only have to consider SKU shifts between PS4 and PS4 Pro or Xbox One and Xbox One X. Once the online ecosystem opens up, there are many more variables in play. How does a PS4 player stack up against someone on Xbox One X? Looking further into the future, does a PS4 player of Fortnite stand a chance against someone playing on PS5? These issues are partially solved by a manual opt-in, but they could cause chaos if crossplay is not perfectly tested.

That's why we think crossplay will take some time to mature, but what are your thoughts? What other games should follow Fortnite's lead? Tell us in the comments section!