As more and more gamers take their talents and passion for gaming online, cross-play has become more and more important. Over the weekend Epic Games revealed its battle royale game Fortnite would soon feature the gaming mechanic. Giving players the opportunity to play with and against anyone no matter the console or platform they play on. Unless they’re someone who plays on Xbox One or Sony’s PlayStation 4.
On Monday, Microsoft revealed Sony is blocking cross-play between both of their consoles. Causing both communities to reach out to both sides to show they want to be able to play each other. Prompting Xbox’s Executive Vice President of Gaming Phil Spencer to tweet out “Me 2” in response and Epic Games replying with “We 3”. Microsoft also put out a statement via an email to Kotaku.
In the statement is the line “We’ve worked closely with Nintendo to allow cross-network play between Xbox One and Switch and our offer to do the same with PlayStation players still holds”. This, of course, is true as Microsoft announced at E3 2017 cross-play was coming to Minecraft and Rocket League. Breaking down the barrier between them and Nintendo. What was Sony’s response when pressed by Eurogamer on why they weren’t playing along?
PlayStation’s Jim Ryan said “We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft, the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. 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”. Now I understand that Ryan (who is head of PlayStation’s global sales and marketing) doesn’t want to expose kids to possible harassment.
Especially when over 144 million copies of Minecraft have been sold, and making it impossible to determine how many kids play the game. But as Eurogamer’s Wesley Yin-Poole pointed out to him, Nintendo is most known for being family friendly. To which Ryan replied, “Everybody has to take their own decisions. We’ll do that. Like I say, we have no philosophical stance against cross-play at all”.
Which is true. Sony does not fully dislike cross-play as PlayStation owners can play Fortnite with people on PC, Mac, and mobile. So why no hesitation there? Why the dislike of playing nice with Microsoft?
A company whose console has been outsold by over 37 million units when measured next to the PlayStation 4. This is Sony cutting off its nose to spite its face. They are Xerxes standing atop of a golden platform in 300, arms stretched out in pure cockiness. Thinking they are God-like and cannot be harmed, as Microsoft is looking up at them like Leonidas.
But the truth is Sony, just like the movie, you can bleed. By being petty, you are giving Microsoft more ammunition to lure gamers into purchasing their current-gen and next-gen consoles. Add in the fact E3 is only a few months away it makes the ammo, even more, deadlier, and the Xbox’s lure more attractive. Instead of viewing cross-play with them like the Yankees view the Red Sox, treat it like the Olympics.
View it as an opportunity for players from all consoles and devices to come together and compete with and against one another. Even put out daily, weekly, or the monthly number of wins on each platform. It’d be a cool way to measure each one up, and who knows maybe it’ll drive players to try each one out. By tearing down this digital wall you’re giving birth to new types of LAN parties, and you’re helping in the creation of new bonds and friendships.
Gamers including myself have been clamoring for these things, so you have two choices. Either be a part of a monumental achievement in gaming or do what you’re still doing. Staying silent and pissing off those who make your shareholders happy. Sony, TEAR DOWN THIS DIGITAL WALL!