Slowly I glance between my PlayStation 4, my Xbox One, and our families Nintendo Switch, letting out a somewhat distraught sigh. My friends are spread out, a few on Xbox One, a handful on PlayStation 4, and even a few on Nintendo Switch. After a few minutes, I settle for PlayStation 4 as my choice for the night. I’ll boot up a title such as Warframe, Fortnite, or Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood as I normally would.
But the disappointment remains as it always does; I can’t game with my friends as they have their platforms of choice, and they refuse to give the one of my choice a shot. Selfish as it sounds, it’s a true resentment I’ve had for quite some time with consoles. On a accidental occasion, I was free to experience a few joyous moments of cross-play between PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC due to a hiccup in Epic Games’ Fortnite. Except within hours, the problem was fixed, and once more I was stuck sharing experiences once more with my PC friends only.In recent days, Sony has been defiant upon the request of gamers, Microsoft, and an industry that is ready to move forward with a single goal in mine: Unification of gamers despite their chosen platform. Microsoft and Nintendo have opted to close those boundaries with Mojang’s title Minecraft, which Microsoft recently acquired, and even Psyonix’s smash-hit sports title Rocket League. The company sitting this one out? Sony with the PlayStation 4 due to their concern over “safety” due to cross-play features.
According to an interview with Eurogamer, Jim Ryan, PlayStation’s global sales and marketing manager, stated the following, which made my raise my brow:
“We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”
While I certainly understand his reason for concern, Sony has to realize something valuable, one thing that everyone takes into consideration the moment they go online with any service: These services are not rated, age restricted, nor do they require consent for any actions others may commit. Instead, companies have implemented a tool known as “parental controls” to keep such things from happening. Even Nintendo, the family friendly company, has implemented such resources.
Nintendo should be the company to throw their hands in the air and going on a tangent, but instead, it’s questionable as to what Sony has to lose from one such situation. When asked about Nintendo’s actions, Ryan stuck a foot in his own mouth, with a statement that could cause more controversy for Sony in the long run:
“Yeah, that’s true. Everybody has to take their own decisions. We’ll do that. Like I say, we have no philosophical stance against cross-play at all.”
Wait, what? Mr. Ryan, I’m confused by your statement you’ve made. First, you are worried about the safety of children, but we already have tools such as parental controls to keep such actions from happening that could cause harm to children. Secondly, you’ve now stated that Sony has no philosophical stance against cross-play features. So what the Hell is holding you all back?Truth be told, Sony doesn’t have any room to be worried at this time. They’ve continually outsold Xbox One for almost three solid years and are still doing so without batting an eye. Secondly, their only true competitor at this time is Nintendo with the Nintendo Switch, which is struggling to even meet consumer demands at this time. The only concern they should have is Microsoft’s Xbox One X when it launches, if it even sends a rallying call to their fans, and those that have sat this generation out thus far.
The benefits of cross-play significantly outweigh the negatives due to what they will offer both players and developers. Communities will be broader, gamers will find less downtime between choosing PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Nintendo Switch. Instead, they’ll be relaxed, they will be able to choose the console of their choice by gauging the exclusives, performance, and cost efficiency.
Secondly, player bases for games will grow, wait times for cross-platform games will be cut by less, which will drive the competitive spirit for competitive titles, and provide richer communities. The larger player bases also will see a trimming of inconsistent player bases due to decayed interest.
Let alone do those two benefits help both developers and gamers, but it also helps comfort those whom purchase games. They know their communities will live longer, DLC will not be as heavily required for various titles, and their fans will ermain engaged and focused upon a single time for longer. The biggest bonus? Exclusive titles won’t have to be shared across all available platforms.
The exclusive titles can remain as just that: exclusives. Third party games can certainly remain cross-play if the developers so choose, which will benefit them more than it won’t. But this added benefit will also help Sony build stronger relationships with their fans, but also fans of the other console developers, allowing them to benefit from one another. The biggest example is the fact that Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Vice President of Gaming, has reached out on multiple occasion’s in order to attempt bringing cross-play to life between both Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The response from Sony? Closing the door on the offer and turning their backs to the competition. But why do we need cross-play and why do we need it now? Is it even going to even have a resounding effect on the industry immediately?The biggest approach to cross-play has several added benefits versus where we are now. Developers like HiRez Studios and Digital Extremes won’t be scurrying to continue their game on future generations by moving players unlocks across multiple platforms, instead they can do as Epic Games has been doing with their titles Paragon and Fortnite, which saves player data on a mega server while only storing system data on the platform of choice.
This alleviate’s the stress needed to maintain such fragile data, but also offers longevity and a clean relationship with developers. If a PlayStation 4, for example, is unavailable, gamers can log in on an Xbox One or even a PC to pick-up where they left off, even if required to purchase a new copy of the game in order to support both developer and console manufacturer. These simple little tasks also offer a less stressful situation for gamers when the next generation gets announced.
With knowing Sony has their backs, gamers will be able to look forward on the PlayStation brand with pride; knowing that Sony helped innovate the future of the PlayStation family. While rumors have circled that both Microsoft and Sony are talking, I wouldn’t count all my eggs and put them in the basket yet. Sony has been adamant this won’t happen any time soon, and that their current stance is where they’ll stay if Jim Ryan’s statements hold true.
Truth be told, Microsoft and Sony will begin to pave way for building the future with their communities where cohesive environments will exist. Environments that developers will become apart of while moving forward. For now, Sony has a lot to take into consideration if Microsoft and Nintendo find their cross-platform partnership beneficial, and well received by fans globally.
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer of 31 years. He’s a dedicated PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. He has a keen love for all things DOOM and a profound love for Pizza, JRPGs, Anime, and handheld gaming. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.