How Epic Could Solve The PS4 'Fortnite' Lockout (But Incur Sony's Wrath)

By now the problem with the Nintendo Switch launch of Fortnite is well-documented. Not only is Sony keeping the PS4 out of cross-play with Switch and Xbox (which can play with each other), but the main problem is that if your Fortnite account has ever been linked to a PS4, you cannot use it to play on Switch, and are forced to create an entirely new account.

The blame for this has been placed squarely on Sony’s doorstep, and the company’s pitiful response to the situation issued yesterday has not helped matters. The pressure should be kept up on Sony to change its tune, but until then, I keep wondering what Epic might be able to do on its end to resolve this, and in the process win itself more fan love than ever.

Epic has accidentally (“accidentally”?) enabled cross-play on Fortnite in the past, seemingly something as simple as hitting the wrong button to activate play between Xbox and PS4 players, only to quickly shut it down with a wink and a nod a short while after it was discovered. I don’t think they’re just going to flip that switch again here, ignoring Sony’s demands, but I do wonder what they might do about the more important issue, the account lockout.

The account issue seems like a class-action lawsuit waiting to happen. Nowhere are you warned when you link your Fortnite account to PS4 that you will be subsequently banned from linking it to other consoles, and by creating a new account you’re not just losing all the time progress on your main, but also whatever money you’ve spent there on unlocks via V-bucks.

So, what to do?

I find myself thinking that Epic might be able to do some sort of mass account “migration” system, which would give players the option of purging PS4 from poisoning their account so it’s free to use on other consoles that do allow cross-play and account sharing.

While I don’t know how the technical end of this would work exactly, it would be something like:

  1. Players are given a one-time option to “migrate” their account, essentially creating a clone of their existing account complete with all their past progression, unlocks and their V-buck purchase history.
  2. Upon doing so, players would be able to pick a new “main” platform (PC, Switch, etc). and then re-link this new, “clean” account from there, obviously not making the same mistake twice of linking to PS4.
  3. This would only be able to be done once, with some sort of email/two-step authentication to avoid problems, and it wouldn’t allow rapid unlinking/re-linking/multiple migrations to make progress on PS4 but also other consoles. While you could re-link to PS4 if you wanted, that would obviously defeat the purpose. If Sony changes its mind later and allows cross-play/account sharing? Then sure, re-link away. But until then, this would solve the lockout issue.
  4. As part of this plan, or even if the rest of these steps aren’t implemented, it seems like Epic should be issuing some sort of clear warning to players who try to play on PlayStation or link their accounts to PlayStation that the account will never be able to be shared across other consoles, and progress and purchases will not carry over.

So no, this isn’t cross-play, but it’s a workaround to give players a “clean” account, given that so many of them didn’t realize that linking their Fortnite accounts to Sony would permanently ban them from playing on Xbox, and more pressingly, Switch, which is more of a desire among fans given its portability.

Would Epic actually do something this drastic? They’re a pretty pro-consumer company so I wouldn’t rule it out, but it would essentially be declaring outright war on Sony, the current console leader with an 80 million-strong playerbase which may actually boast the highest number of Fortnite players per platform.

And yet, this would be a huge PR win for Epic, and what’s Sony going to do if this happens? Remove Fortnite from PS4? Can you imagine the nuclear fan meltdown that would happen if they did that? Epic has all the power here. Sure, you don’t want to damage your relationships in the industry, and yet Sony is doing active harm to Epic and the Fortnite playerbase by tainting these accounts. Sony has earned some measure of retribution from the publisher here, and I’m not sure subtweet-shade error messages from Epic are enough.

I have to imagine that Epic and Sony are talking behind the scenes about all this. I’m hoping pressure will just mount on Sony to the point where it relents and opens up PS4, but if not, I think Epic should seriously consider more drastic measures like this.

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