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Sony Really Needs To Talk About the PS4 and Xbox One Cross-Platform Play Issue

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The massive success of Fortnite Battle Royale has pushed it into the elite group of online multiplayer titles, and that in turn has ramped up the desire to see people play it together across consoles.

PS4 owners can play against the newly-released mobile version’s player base, as can Xbox One Owners, but the missing link remains between Sony and Microsoft.

Over the weekend, Phil Spencer once again poked the bear that is cross-platform play between the two consoles. Fortnite has been the battleground for the subject on multiple occasions, with cross-platform play actually being a brief reality in the game, albeit ‘by accident’.

Sony Holding Back On PS4 and Xbox One Cross-Platform Play

So with the latest jab, the topic is once again flaring up, and Sony are pushed further and further into a corner thanks to a fairly limp response to the issue.

Microsoft are naturally into the idea of cross-platform play. The Xbox One creators are lagging behind in console sales and boosted player counts on multi-platform multiplayer titles would top up the existing player base nicely. Make no mistake though, Microsoft are not pushing for this out of care or concern for the gaming community. There’s already a history of the shoe being on the other foot, and nothing changed then either. This is about competing, and finding ways to chip away at the PS4’s reputation as the console of choice.

Meanwhile, Sony are naturally hesitant to enter into such realms with Microsoft given the aggressive manner in which the two have competed in recent years. Microsoft pushed Sony as a company to the very edge last generation, and Sony fought back to reclaim the top spot in response.

Sony’s open refusal to discuss the matter remains a problem no matter how cautious the company are. The insipid reasons (think of the children!) given over a lack of cross-platform play on everything from ARK, to Minecraft, to Rocket League, and of course, Fortnite, with Microsoft in recent times have not done much to endear the Japanese giant to many fans clamouring to play the biggest online titles with friends and rivals across the console divide.

It isn’t as if Sony don’t do cross-platform play either.  While it wouldn’t be a popular thing to say, Sony can at least be honest and come out and state the reason is simply because it believes Microsoft is a direct competitor and any such deal would not benefit it at this time.

Cold logic says everybody should play happy families and work together for the benefit of the player. That would of course be wonderful. It is quite clear that this is an issue that will crop up again and again until there’s a definitive resolution. It is worth remembering this is two companies with a very different way of approaching respective player bases.

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You do wonder if Microsoft had perhaps focused more on creating its own titles, then it may not have needed the crutch of ‘uniting players’. Nor required enhanced backwards compatibility as a key selling point of the Xbox One family. It also bought short-term PUBG (Fortnite’s biggest rival) exclusivity, which of course denies PS4 owners the chance to play it with Xbox players. Not exactly the actions of a company driven to unite communities. This sort of thing occurs on both sides of course, but only one is currently nudging the other to ‘play fair’ in regards to cross-platform play.

While Microsoft’s faux-fawning over uniting communities is a somewhat shallow attempt to prick the PS4 success bubble with a contentious topic, Sony’s steadfast refusal to speak clearly on the subject only plays into the hands of its competitor. That may not matter right now, but it could have a lasting effect that impacts the standing of Sony in the next big console race.

Sony need to make it absolutely clear where they stand, because Microsoft have given no room for ambiguous statements or insipid excuses on the subject of cross-platform play.

  • Albert Belle

    Oh for the love of God just do the cross play. I don’t really care but if it will shut Phil Spencer and every whinny gamer up about it I am all for it. Also we all know why Sony is doing it and why Microsoft is pushing it so can we also stop pretending that Microsoft is trying to help anyone but themselves.

    • Chuck

      Xbox Live delivers the best entertainment experience unmatched by anyone else, with 35 million actively engaged members. We have a high level of expectation for our game developers to ensure that all Live experiences remain top notch. Because we can’t guarantee this level of quality, or control the player experience on other consoles or gaming networks, we currently do not open our network to games that allow this cross-over capability.

      This is what Microsoft said on the matter back in 2011, when they were dominating the previous console generation, and it would be enough for Sony to quote this to shut Phil Spencer up.
      Just to be clear, I’m not against cross-platform online play by any stretch of imagination. It would be the most consumer-friendly thing to do. But there’s clearly some hypocrisy on Microsoft’s side in the matter, and from that standpoint I can understand why Sony isn’t listening.

      • Tokumei Yamada

        It may be hypocrisy on Microsoft’s side, but it kind of is from Sony’s side, too. It’s clear that the one in the lead can make the rules, and the other one has to try desperate things, instead of both of them trying to make things better for their user-base.

        Back on PS3, we had UT3 with in-asset as well as model and texture mods. No outside scripting, of course, because that’s a security risk, but if someone wanted to download a hideous naked woman character or Mario or Cloud or Master Chief, that was their right. Modding on UT3 was the only reason to play it. Xbox blocked the mods, however. Come PS4, and they severely restrict mods on Skyrim and Fallout, while Xbox allows full mods. The message both companies are sending is “When we’re in charge, we won’t let you do fun things.”

        • Chuck

          This kind of behavior is exactly why I’ve been hoping for a console generation during which the Sony console at no point outsells the Microsoft console by more than 40% (as opposed to over 105% right now). Only then will we have proper competition and each company having to constantly work to outdo the other in order to try and take the customers away from the competitor. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s a very likely scenario considering the current situation.

      • Albert Belle

        Exactly. Microsoft rejected them when they were ahead of Sony and now that they are lagging behind they are trying to get a leg up on Sony by using the PS4 as a jumping point and trying to shame them into doing it. If Microsoft actually cared about gamers like they keep claiming they do I would be more than eager for them and Sony to work it out. But I knew a leopard couldn’t change its spots. Microsoft is just as fake, money grubbing and underhanded as they were from the beginning. I mean it’s not like we HAVE to have crossplay with the Xbox. We already have it between all the PS4 and PC and that is millions of people.

  • Al Buns

    Phil should be worried about making exclusives instead. Cross play won’t save the Xbox brand. This is another distraction as usual from the major flaw of the Xbox One.

  • Tokumei Yamada

    If Sony gives on crossplay, we may finally see Minecraft VR on PS4. Disagreements over crossplay were why Minecraft didn’t get shaders on PS4.