Early access game Fortnite accidentally demonstrated the ease with which cross-platform play can be implemented. Over the weekend, console players noticed that not everyone on their server was using the same platform; something that is supposedly impossible due to technical limitations.
PlayStation 4 players were the first to note that something wasn’t right with their games due to strange gamer tags. This is notable because PS4 tags don’t allow spaces, which is something that happens on the Xbox One. Later experiments with the error clearly showed Xbox and PS4 players on the same server, including one image with a father and son playing the game side-by-side on different consoles.
According to developer Epic Games, the cross-platform play came as a “configuration issue” that has since been fixed.
Still, this only disproves many claims that cross-platform play requires a large investment from all parties involved. Especially since it looks like it can happen unintentionally and without severe compatibility issues.
For the most part, Microsoft is already pushing to unify gamers across Windows and Xbox. Minecraft developer Mojang has already announced a Better Together update that will allows players from Android, iOS, Windows, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch to share the same server. Similarly, Rocket League already allows cross-platform play with PC and Xbox.
If anything, the real reason for keep PlayStation and Xbox players apart looks to be a business move from Sony and Microsoft. Because we now have concrete proof that there really is nothing stopping the programmers from pulling it off.