Fortnite Storms PlayStation’s Walled Garden, Forcing Sony Shift

(Bloomberg) -- Sony Corp., in a big policy shift, is allowing Fortnite fans on PlayStation to compete with players using rivals’ consoles and use in-game goods they purchased elsewhere.

The move is an acknowledgment of Fortnite’s huge success. The game, which is free and playable on consoles, PCs and mobile devices, has become a global phenomenon with a record 78 million players online last month. Fans buy “battle passes” that give them access to in-game features and can purchase outfits and other decorative objects in the game, making it a big financial success.

“They left a lot of money on the table,” said Matthew Kanterman, a video-game analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “Hopefully this will allow more customers to come back.”

Sony had been reluctant to allow outside access because it wanted to keep players and purchases within the PlayStation community. The company previously allowed Fortnite fans on PlayStation to compete against rivals on personal computers and mobile devices. PlayStation 4 is the top seller among the current generation of game consoles. Wider use will boost Sony’s sales.

Sony said in a blog post Wednesday it has sought to provide a “uniquely PlayStation perspective” for its customers. “Today, the communities around some games have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players.”

Fortnite has forced video-game publishers to add every-man-for-himself-style competition to their titles. It’s owned by closely held Epic Games. The company has kept the title out of Google’s app store, in part to protest the 30 percent share the site keeps.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.