Sometimes, companies hide things from the people playing their games. These secrets can be innocent and beneficial, like Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando housing an Insomniac Museum that can only be found by using a hidden teleporter between 3am and 4am when you have all skill points and weapon mods. Then, there are more malicious and shady affairs, like what’s happened with Sony and Epic Games’ account system. In one of the industry’s more underhanded moves, Sony locks people’s accounts to their platform in such a way that it can really come down to a consumer rights issue.
Let’s go over what happened. When Fortnite launched on the Switch, people noticed a problem. If they previously played Fortnite on the PlayStation 4, they could not use that account on the Switch. But, if their account had been used on any other platform to play this particular game, they could. Upon using the Epic account on the PlayStation 4, it becomes irrevocably tied and locked to Sony, without any warning about what is happening. People were pissed.
They have every right to be mad! Epic Games has set up its account system so there is cross-progression and purchases. No matter what platform you are on, you are supposed to be able to pick up and go, with any skins you already have. Paladins is a similar situation. But with this Sony issue, things are intermixed forever. Even if you go into your Epic account and unlink your PlayStation account from it, the damage is done. No one said this would happen. Epic did not alert anyone. Sony didn’t either.
What’s worse is Sony’s response. In a statement issued to the BBC, the company said, “We're always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience.” It also noted, “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." Except, this is not a cross-play issue. This is some sneaky, shadowy attempt at sweeping the real issue under the rug. People are not upset with the lack of cross-play, though it does suck that Sony imposes those limitations. It is the account lock.
The real problem here is everything being hidden and presenting a problem that can kill a game’s longevity. People are making Epic accounts, which should not be connected to any platform. Epic Games themselves touts the play anywhere aspect as being a big part of the Fortnite experience. They go to use the accounts as intended, only to find out Sony is secretly dictating where they can and can’t be used after they are used with the PlayStation 4 version of a game. Then, after doing so, it does not offer an option to untie these knots that have been made! It even tries to avoid the real issue by bringing up the cross-play problem instead!
What happens when the next console generation comes? What if someone decides to pass on the PlayStation 5 and go with the Next Xbox instead? Instead of getting to carry over everything and continue, you will be forced to start over from scratch, paying for skins all over again. Even if you didn’t spend money or Fortnite does not carry over to future console generations, it means creating an entirely new Epic account, losing all of the people on the friends list you have accumulated on your past account, and maybe even missing out on potential bonuses for being a loyal Epic Games fan who has played multiple titles from the company.
Sony screwed up royally. The company tampered with people’s Epic accounts, not telling anyone about their influence along the way. Epic Games is at fault too, for their compliance and allowing this to happen. This is a huge problem and people should not ignore it. Something has to be done to make things right, both in terms of being more transparent from here on out and allowing people the option to completely cut the cord between Sony and Epic accounts.