It’s not a good idea to disturb avid gamers, but Sony’s PlayStation is doing just that and even Wall Street seems to be taking notice of threatening social media rants by irate gamers.
Epic Games released “Fortnite” last year and it quickly became a big hit, available via PlayStation’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One and with 125 million players worldwide. No problem with that so far.
Then, earlier this week, it became available via Nintendo’s Switch, a console that easily transforms from a home system to a portable, and it was downloaded two million times.
And that’s when a cross-play problem erupted. Gamers discovered that if they signed up for a “Fortnite” account via PS4, they can’t use that same account if they later try to play the game on their Switch unit.
That means any in-game purchases or progress they made playing “Fortnite” on PS4 won’t carry over if they then try to play it Switch. That was seen as unsportsmanlike corporate conduct.
Gamers howled on social media. Sony responded, sort of, to the BBC, the only statement it has made on issue as of Friday morning:
“We’re always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience. With more than 80 million monthly active users on PlayStation Network, we’ve built a huge community of gamers who can play together on Fortnite and all online titles. We also offer Fortnite cross-play support with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, expanding the opportunity for Fortnite fans on PS4 to play with even more gamers on other platforms. We have nothing further to add beyond this at this point.”
That corporate reaction didn’t cut it with gamers:
“Roughly 24h before the community starts canceling PS Plus subscriptions, and still no answer from you guys: @PlayStation @Sony on the #Fortnite lockout on Switch. No, I’m not counting that ridiculous comment you made today…” read one Twitter comment on Thursday. Other outrage erupted on Reddit and other sites.
Sony stock declined two points on Thursday and continued to drop on Friday.
PlayStation has some room to flex but some challenges, too. There are about 80 million PlayStation 4 consoles out there, and only about 38 million Xbox One units. But the Nintendo Switch in its first year sold 14.8 million units and some reports say it will sell 20 million this year, making it the fastest-growing gamer console in history.