Cross-platform multiplayer has now become a hot new feature in a lot of big titles such as Rocket League and Minecraft. It’s something that most gamers never would’ve thought that they would see, but it is definitely a reality. But, things aren’t completely seamless just yet.
While Nintendo and Microsoft are perfectly fine with the idea of Switch and Xbox One owners playing together, so far Sony has only been willing to allow PS4 players to connect with those on PC and mobile devices. The company’s firm stance against widening out their policies on cross-play has been met with a lot of backlash from the gaming community. It seems like all the negative PR is finally getting the higher-ups to pay attention.
Recently, a Gamelabs conference took place in Spain. There, a presentation was conducted by Shawn Layden, the President and CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment America and Chairman of SIE Worldwide Studios. He was joined by Mark Cerny, the System Architect behind the PlayStation 4. At the end of the presentation, a reporter from Eurogamer posed a direct question to the two Sony executives about the company’s stance against allowing cross-platform multiplayer with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. It was Shawn Layden that decided to respond to the question, saying that Sony is now “looking at a lot of the possibilities.” Here’s his full statement:
“We’re hearing it. We’re looking at a lot of the possibilities. You can imagine that the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game. I’m confident we’ll get to a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business.”
This is an interesting response. It does appear to give some hope that Sony is willing to change its policies, but this really isn’t a definitive “yes”.
All Layden basically said was that the company is “hearing it”; that is, Sony is definitely aware of the backlash that it’s been facing online in recent weeks. He elaborated a little more by saying that “the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game.” What Layden probably means here is that having this functionality will create new challenges on a game-to-game basis. It’s likely that he’s referring to it from a financial perspective. For instance, while Rocket League allows cross-platform multiplayer between PC and consoles, even if you have an account on more than one version you cannot transfer any content (such as DLC) between them. This is likely Sony’s main concern as it is the market leader, so any potential threats to its revenue stream would be concerning to the company. That ties in with his last sentence: “I’m confident we’ll get to a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business.”
The wording is a little vague, but it sounds like the goal is to strike a balance between possibly appeasing the demands that gamers are making while also doing it in a way that doesn’t hurt Sony’s bottom line, as mentioned before. Ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see if Sony actually ever does do anything about this or if Layden’s statement ends up simply being damage control for the time being. In any case, having cross-platform multiplayer is a great feature. It’s convenient for both the players and the developers. But, Sony’s main concern will always be its business first and if cross-play with other consoles is something that’s going to get in the way of that, it just might not happen on PS4.