Fortnite will debut on the next-generation video game consoles as those machines launch this fall, according to Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.
In an interview with GamesBeat today, Sweeney said that the company is using Unreal Engine 4 to adapt Fortnite to run on both the PlayStation 5 and the Xbox Series X when those consoles debut late this year. That’s important for both consoles, as Fortnite has more than 350 million users over seven different platforms.
Over time, Epic Games will migrate Fortnite over to the Unreal Engine 5, which Epic gave a glimpse of today with the release of a demo video. Unreal Engine 5 will debut in 2021. But Sweeney said the transition from Unreal Engine 4, which first debuted in 2012, to Unreal Engine 5 won’t be that difficult. This version is the same as the existing one, but Fortnite will be optimized to take advantage of the new hardware and features on next-gen consoles. Epic promises better performance and visuals.
“We’re launching Fortnite on next-generation consoles this year on UE4,” Sweeney said. “We’re moving it to UE5 over the course of next year. Fortnite will continue to support the seven platforms it supports now, plus the two new ones that have been announced. We have to support the game on all hardware, and we have to do that without game developers ever having to build any asset, any content twice.”
Sweeney said the rest of the industry can piggyback on the pioneering work on Fortnite, which is a testbed for the Unreal Engine tools.
“Our goal since the very early days has been to connect all the players across all the platforms,” he said. “We pioneered this in Fortnite, which was the first to connect Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, Google devices, every device, and enable everyone to play together. We’ve taken that entire stack of online technologies and we’re opening it up to all developers, including the nuts and bolts game services like matchmaking and data storage. But also the account system and the friends graph we built up for Fortnite, with more than 350 million players across seven platforms, and more than 2.2 billion social connections.”
He added, “That’s now open for everybody. You can piggyback on all of Epic’s efforts to build up this multiplatform audience and then contribute back to it by using it in your game, having your players add your friends to it. Everybody benefits together by building up this non-walled garden version of things that have existed on each platform and on Steam in a locked-down way in the past.”
Epic said it will support cross-progression across console generations and platforms so that player accounts, progression, and items carry over. Epic intends to support crossplay on all platforms, including current and next-generation consoles.