Epic’s Tim Sweeney Is Positive The Day for PlayStation 4/Xbox One Crossplay Will Come


Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, considered the father of the Unreal Engine, is certainly one of the most respected programmers in the industry. In 2012 he was inducted into the AIAS (Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences) Hall of Fame, and last year he received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Conference.

Sweeney is once again attending GDC this year. In fact, he appeared on stage yesterday during Epic's State of Unreal presentation to deliver both the opening and the closing speech.

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It's the latter that proved to be more interesting, though, when Sweeney talked about the importance of connecting users from all platforms. He cited the recent cross-platform announcements for Fortnite as the result of a huge diplomatic effort Epic made behind the scenes with Microsoft and Sony, but he also went on to say that negotiations continue to allow PlayStation 4 gamers to play with Xbox One (currently prevented due to Sony's existing policy) and he's positive the day will come when this wall crumbles, too.

What's happening here with Fortnite and Rocket League and PUBG really highlights that games are now becoming social experiences in that they're much more fun to play when you're playing them with your real world friends. So, Epic has been working on a really extensive diplomatic effort on Fortnite to lead the way to interconnecting all users on behalf of all developers.

We're really grateful that both Sony and Microsoft have agreed to allow cross-platform play between each of these platforms and PC, Mac, iOS and Android. We have six platforms with thirty-six possible connections. There's only one connection that's not enabled yet and it's the PlayStation to Xbox connection. We're working on that with all these folks and we're optimistic the day will come.

Underlying all this, there's a great value to interoperability for everybody. For gamers, for game developers and for the platform companies themselves. There's an economic principle here that was first stated by Mr. Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet. It states that the value of a network for each user is proportional to the number of nodes that each user can connect to.

Essentially, the more connection there is the more value for everybody. That's all in abstract, but what we're really talking about here isn't nodes and networks, it's people. These are customers, kids at school who have friends in real life and want to play games along with them. And now almost all of the platforms are connected together and we're making really great progress.

Based on all the economics we've learned, many of the most valuable companies in the world are companies that help connect users socially now, and deservedly so. I think that there's great value in PlayStation players connecting with Xbox and vice versa, everybody in the industry would be better off with these connections in place, so we'll continue to advocate on that behalf. And you should too - it's feeling pretty lonely up here! (laughs)

But you know, at Epic we really believe this is the future of gaming. This isn't speculation, it's happening right now across several games, many powered by Unreal Engine technology.

Will Sony's barrier against connecting with other consoles fall? Let's hope so. If and when it does, you'll hear it here on Wccftech.