All By Themselves: Does Sony Hate Cross-Platform Play?

If there is one thing that all can agree on, regardless of the platform, it is that they want to become an eventual reality. We all want to see a world in which , , and, at times, players are able to play games in a shared online universe together.

The idea of cross-platform play was once again brought up at this year when it was revealed that and would be made  compatible, meaning that players on PC, , the and  will soon be able to play with each other on a shared server.

There is one very notable name missing from that list: PlayStation.

Yes, the only hardware developer that will not allow cross-platform features with their consoles and networks is, once again, .

This notion had me asking two questions. Firstly, why did Sony say no to cross-platform play on Minecraft and Rocket League? Then, secondly, what would Sony have to gain by not allowing cross-platform play with Xbox in particular?

So, Why Did Sony Say No To Cross-Platform Play?

PlayStation Global Sales and Marketing Head, Jim Ryan, provided Eurogamer with an interview in which the decision to bar cross-platform play for Minecraft and Rocket League was discussed.

Rocket League.jpg

Rocket League. (Credit: Psyonix)

A lot of news articles and videos that I’ve seen covering the topic seem to have zoned in on the very odd explanation that Ryan gave for Sony not allowing cross-platform play.

The explanation suggested that the reason that Sony has been hesitant to say yes to the feature is that the company has the responsibility to protect its consumers from exposing consumers to external influences that will be outside the realm of control of the rules and forces governing the .

Ryan made particular reference to the fact that Minecraft is a game that is exceedingly popular with children and thus it was imperative to ensure that they were not exposed to inappropriate content.

Minecraft 2.jpg

Minecraft. (Credit: Mojang)

Obviously, a lot of people think this reason is ridiculous because if – the hardware developer that is most associated with creating consoles aimed at younger audiences – is capable of agreeing to such a deal, what is preventing Sony?

Coincidentally, Minecraft Is One Game Sony May Actually Have A Legitimate Reason To Say No To

Ryan’s statement was probably made with Minecraft in mind, which coincidentally, is probably the only known game that Sony may have a legitimate reason to say no to including cross-platform play features.

In order to make use of Minecraft’s cross-platform play features, one will need to log into Microsoft’s service. This means that even if you’re not playing on an Xbox One (or ), you will need to log in to a service run by .

Xbox Live 2

Xbox Live. (Credit: Microsoft)

In this very particular instance, the ideas that Ryan suggested of the environment not being in the realm of control of the PlayStation Network were quite legitimate.

Regardless of whether the reason for not allowing cross-platform play is to protect the innocent children or underlined by some financial interest, I’d say that perhaps it’s fair for a company to say no to a feature with regards to that particular game if it attempts to draw users away from your own product to that of your biggest competitor.

This excuse, however, doesn’t really explain why cross-platform hasn’t been allowed with other titles that Microsoft doesn’t have an invested interest in, such as Rocket League.

So, What Would Sony Have To Gain By Not Allowing Cross-Platform Play With Xbox?

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Gwent: The Witcher Card Game. (Credit: CD Projekt Red)

Over the past year or so, quite a bit of focus has been placed on cross-platform play. Last year, Rocket League developer, , announced that they were ready to allow cross-platform play for the title, but were facing hesitation from Sony.

A few months later, , reported a similar situation in trying to get permission to make : The Witcher Card Game a cross-platform play title.

The weird thing about these two cases (and many others) is that Sony is already allowing for cross-platform play for certain titles – at least between PC and /PS4 players. This is why it is so weird that they will not allow and Xbox One players to mix.

The suggestions made by Psyonix and CD Projekt Red last year actually did prompt me to have a look at and write about what Sony would have to gain by not allowing cross-platform play with Xbox One players.

The only real explanation I could find in that piece was that allowing cross-platform play would take away from that need to purchase the same console as one’s friends as with the feature anyone would be able to play with anyone on any platform.

Multiplayer has become a big aspect of modern gaming. There is an argument to be made that it is currently the most popular aspect of gaming overall. By creating divisions in a community based on a piece of hardware, basically, ensures that certain factors will be created that will make a consumer more likely to buy a certain brand of hardware.

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Battlefield 1 multiplayer. (Credit: EA)

Despite all of the console war rhetoric, there are probably many gamers out there who don’t really care about the differences between the Xbox One and PS4 because they perhaps only play a few multi-platform multiplayer titles.

If you’re one of those types of gamers, you’ll be more likely to base your choice on which console to buy on the basis of what your friends own so that you can play with them.

Perhaps, this is an aspect that Sony is focusing on by not allowing cross-platform play as they feel that it may impact the sales of the PS4.

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War. War never changes.

Another argument I have seen suggested by some is that Xbox Live provides a better and more stable online experience, and while I haven’t really seen any notable differences between online play on the Xbox One and PS4, maybe Sony does feel as if Microsoft provides a better online experience and that the deficiencies in their services will be highlighted if they do allow cross-platform play.

An argument that I was only made aware of recently is that some believe that Sony doesn’t really want to allow cross-platform play because it could result in weakening the security of the PlayStation Network, making it vulnerable to outside attack.

If one remembers, there was an attack on the PlayStation Network in 2011, which resulted in the information of 77 million users being stolen, and obviously Sony would definitely not like a repeat of that situation.

I do think that these last two arguments aren’t really all that valid as Sony has shown a willingness to allow cross-platform play before, just not with Xbox players.

Perhaps, as Jim Ryan also suggested in the interview, the problem is with obtaining permission from Sony’s stakeholders. We will never really know if this is entirely true or not, but what we do know is that it is unfortunate that for the time being there will be no cross-play between PS4 and Xbox One players.

With no clear reason as to why Sony doesn’t want to allow cross-platform play, this will be a situation that is soon to change.

Why do you think that Sony won’t allow for cross-platform play with Xbox users? Please share in the comments down below.

[Sources: BusinessInsider; The Guardian; Eurogamer; TechCrunch]

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