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Why is cross-platform required on Fortnite?

Cross-platform play is a requirement in Fortnite because it combines the player base across platforms for faster matchmaking, better skill-based matchups, and an overall better connected experience. Enabling cross-platform is key to a thriving, competitive Fortnite environment.

Introducing Cross-Platform Play

Cross-platform play, often shortened to "cross-play," refers to the ability for players on different gaming platforms to play together. This breaks down barriers and allows friends and competitors across PC, consoles, and mobile devices to squad up or face off in the same match.

Fortnite fully supports cross-platform play across PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS devices. This brings the once fragmented player base together into unified matchmaking pools.

According to Epic Games, over 350 million Fortnite players have registered accounts across all supported platforms as of May 2021. Unified cross-platform play is what keeps this massive community connected.

Why Cross-Play is a Requirement

There are a few key reasons why enabling cross-platform play is a requirement rather than optional in Fortnite:

1. Larger Combined Player Pool

By combining the player base across all platforms, matchmaking pools gain millions more potential players. This results in faster queue times, better geographical matchmaking, and availability across different server regions.

A segmented player base without cross-play would mean fewer available players to matchmake with in your skill range and location. Queue times would suffer significantly.

2. Balanced Skill-Based Matchups

Fortnite uses skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) to create competitive matches. SBMM analyzes player skill level based on stats and performance rather than platform or input device. This means great console players will get matched with equivalently skilled PC players for fair fights.

Without cross-play, the platforms are isolated and matching players of similar skill across a single platform is far less consistent. Having the entire player pool to draw from enables better accuracy in matching skill.

3. Squad Play Across All Platforms

The social experience of playing with real-life friends is a big part of Fortnite‘s appeal. Enabling friends on PS4 and Switch to squad up with their pal on PC brings players together.

Cross-platform support means you don‘t have to fragment your friend group or play without teammates just because you‘re on different platforms. It makes coordinating play sessions far easier.

4. Shared Progress and Unlocks

Your Fortnite account, progression, purchased items, and unlocks are shared across all platforms with cross-play enabled. You can unlock the battle pass playing on mobile then enjoy your new skins on console later. No starting fresh each platform.

Having a unified account progression adds incentive and value in playing on all compatible devices without losing your effort‘s worth. It’s a big perk of the cross-platform experience.

How Matchmaking Works

Behind the scenes, Fortnite’s matchmaking logic is key to making cross-platform play work well. Here is some insight into how it functions:

  • Skill tracking – Analyzes stats like kills, wins, accuracy to estimate skill
  • Platform identification – Detects your platform (PC, PS4, etc)
  • Input matching – Separates mouse & keyboard vs. controller lobbies
  • Skill tier assignment – Ranks you into a skill tier bracket
  • Lobby filling – Matches you into a lobby with players of similar skill tier

This matchmaking logic allows for cross-platform play while keeping fights as fair and competitive as possible. It’s not perfect, but works reasonably well.

Platform Populations and Player Count

To get an idea of the scale cross-play brings, here is a breakdown of the Fortnite player population across platforms as of January 2022 according to Epic Games:

  • PC: 90 million registered accounts
  • PlayStation: 115 million
  • Xbox: 65 million
  • Nintendo Switch: 38 million
  • Android: 135 million
  • iOS: 115 million

That combines to well over 550 million total registered Fortnite players across all major platforms. This massive player pool is what enables great cross-platform matchmaking.

The peak concurrent players in 2021 hit over 15 million simultaneously connected at once. That level of populous lobbies and fast matchmaking relies on cross-play being a unified player base.

Room for Improvement

Cross-platform play in Fortnite is excellent, but still has room for improvement including:

  • Better implement skill-based matchmaking – The current system is decent but flawed, allowing some lopsided platform skill matchups to occur. Fine tuning the algorithm could help optimize cross-platform balance.
  • Stronger anti-cheat measures – Cheating remains more prevalent on PC. Better anti-cheat specifically focused on cross-play could help console players feel more secure.
  • Performance optimizations – Closing the performance gap between platforms with optimizations and new engine versions could help equalize frames per second across devices.
  • More competitive integrity – Competitive and tournament playlists may need to restrict cross-platform to create a more even playing field at the highest skill levels.

The Future of Cross-Play

Cross-platform play has become standard in most major multiplayer games following Fortnite‘s influential adoption. It provides players with the most opportunity to play together and brings isolated platforms into a shared ecosystem.

Fortnite is sure to continue improving the integration and fairness of cross-play matchmaking. And new technology like cloud streaming will further blend the lines between platforms.

Cross-progression and account syncing across devices also brings major convenience. Overall, Fortnite’s cross-play support represents a huge step forward for multiplayer gaming and connects players in a way that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.