bidbic

Sony's Stubborn Stance on Cross-Play Is Embarrassing
Exit Theatre Mode
Next

Sony's Stubborn Stance on Cross-Play Is Embarrassing

Share.
Opinion: It's about time Sony gets on board with console cross-play.

From the battle royale craze to the push for streamed games, 2018 has already seen its fair share of gaming trends. But one of the most frustratingly consistent stories is Sony’s self-destructive unwillingness to allow games on PS4 to cross-play with other consoles.

This is by no means a new policy of theirs -- they’ve been doing it for years. But with a larger variety of places to play games than ever, this stance is becoming more noticeable and more disruptive. Games like Fortnite, Rocket League, and Minecraft (alongside the runaway success of the Switch) are pushing the issue into the limelight, and Sony is doing little to respond.

Exit Theatre Mode

The initial resistance to cross-play was understandable, especially back around the launch of the PS4 when platform separations were simpler as a concept. Microsoft hadn’t committed to bringing all of its games to PC with ‘Play Anywhere’ yet, and major new games really only had three places to release: PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

The truth of the matter is that this decision benefits no one, especially not Sony.

That meant not supporting cross-play still left things relatively balanced, usually creating an Xbox-PC community and a PS4-PC community. But that’s not the world we live in now, with mobile gaming and Nintendo’s latest system able to run significantly bigger titles. Now it’s often Xbox-PC-Switch-mobile against PS4, sometimes all on its lonesome.

The truth of the matter is that this decision benefits no one. It hurts players who just want to party up with friends, it hurts developers who want to utilize cross-play that now have to deal with issues like the recent Fortnite account lockouts from the Switch launch, and it hurts Sony by making the PS4 a less appealing choice for gamers that are considering their options for multiplatform games.

Exit Theatre Mode

According to the former CEO of Sony Online entertainment, Sony is scared of the idea of someone buying items or games elsewhere and then using them on PS4, essentially cutting them out of the transaction. Meanwhile, last year Sony claimed their lack of cross-play was out of concern for player safety — a statement Microsoft quickly called foul on. That drive to keep the PS4 a contained ecosystem has resulted in it becoming a less versatile option for players.

The policy doesn't seem to be connected to any sort of technical limitation, it’s just their decision.

I haven’t even installed Fortnite on my PS4 because I know I’d have to start a new account, or inextricably link my current one to that system. It’s an experience that has actually made me distrust playing any multiplatform game on PS4, and Sony is currently doing nothing to win that trust back, despite vague statements that they’ll find a “solution.”

The solution is simple, Sony: change your mind. As far as I can tell, the policy isn’t connected to any sort of technical limitation -- it’s a decision. Epic even accidentally activated Fortnite cross-play around its launch and it worked fine, so apparently it’s as simple as flicking a switch.

Exit Theatre Mode

We now have lovely videos of Microsoft and Nintendo working together, PC gamers happily playing with people on Switch and mobile, and even major developers like Epic and Bethesda publicly calling out Sony for their unwillingness to adjust.

Players want PS4 cross-play. Developers want PS4 cross-play. Essentially everyone in the world except Sony wants PS4 cross-play, and it’s getting embarrassing to watch as that world changes around them.

Tom Marks is IGN's PC Editor and pie maker. You can follow him on Twitter.