“For the Players”. A motto expertly devised at a time where there was uncertainty about the direction the gaming industry was heading in, with talks of DRM, always online and not being able to trade games with your mates doing the rounds. As Microsoft started to inch the blade closer to it’s abdomen with the Xbox One launch, Sony used the motto to propel itself in the graces of its now ever-growing “PlayStation Nation”, another one of its constructs, carrying favour with its denizens. Facing near bankruptcy, Sony went all out to win the favour of its fanbase with impressive success, far beyond what even it anticipated. Since then, it has seemingly stayed true to it’s saying. Until now.
Investors > Gamers
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. As it’s grip on the industry gets tighter day by day, we see chinks in the armour of what now appears to an emperor concerned with the preservation of self above all else. In a way, this was always the case and quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with it to an extent. However, Sony has now adopted a stance that only the most diehard of its followers can defend. Have a gander at Sony’s Jim Ryan and his response to Eurogamer regarding Sony’s refusal to allow cross play with Nintendo and Microsoft:
Unfortunately it’s a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders
What then followed was an excuse by Ryan about concerns for children only for that to be immediately shut down by the interviewer as he correctly referenced the fact that Nintendo, the most child-conscious of companies was agreeable to cross play.
What is Cross Play and why should you care?
Cross play allows players on all platforms to play together, if the game is available on the respective platform. In an industry where an artificial barrier has existed for far too long save for some exceptions, this would be the biggest moves to bring together a gaming community usually separated by hardware. Have you got mates on COD, Fifa, Titanfall or any online multiplayer game that you can’t play with because they play the same game but on a different platform? This could alleviate the problem so that regardless of platform, you get to play together.
This is the first time we are seeing a push for cross play at such a scale and involving so many platforms. Minecraft is a behemoth in the gaming industry and Rocket League has worked it’s way into the hearts of over 25 million gamers, with that number only set to grow as it makes its debut on the Nintendo Switch console.
Excusing the Emperor
So who on Earth and on what basis would anyone other than Sony, defend the company’s stance here when cross play would obviously benefit gamers? There have been some pretty flimsy excuses doing the rounds and some of these are as follows:
1. It’s because Microsoft wants Sony to Use Xbox Live
False. Just look at Rocket League. Whilst Microsoft use Xbox Live servers for Minecraft, that shouldn’t really be a surprise considering the fact that it owns the IP! I have seen some ludicrous defenders completely and wilfully ignoring Rocket League as evidence contrary to the assertion that Microsoft mandates use of its own servers cross play titles. Rocket League’s Jeremy Dunham quickly hammered the nail into that argument:
We run our own matchmaking. None of the platforms are aware of what’s going on in the other’s ecosystem. We control all that
2. The PlayStation Player Pool Is “Big Enough”
The PlayStation 4 having the biggest player pool for most games doesnt mean that we don’t need cross play. That’s not the point of cross play; it’s not there just to bolster numbers. Even still, this would benefit PlayStation gamers too as Rocket League’s Dunham stated:
One, you can have faster matchmaking. The bigger the pool, the faster the matchmaking. It benefits everybody. Two, you get better quality opponents. In a bigger pool you have better people who are closer to your location
Take Titanfall 2 as an example of an excellent title but with a relatively small player pool across all platforms, including the PS4. If the title were to have a unified player base with Xbox and PS, this would surely benefit everyone?
you can’t claim to be “for the players” and then shaft them because of concerns for your investors
Regardless of the above, the ability to one day play only with your mates irrespective of the platform you play on is the real benefit of cross play. That’s what this is all about.
3. Why should Sony pander to it’s competitors?
This one really irks me. We’ve all seen people bend over backwards for their favourite corporation in this industry but something that benefits gamers should be encouraged not excused on the basis that the corporations profits would somehow be affected. Even so, how would this negatively impact Sony?
The longer this goes on and the more alienated the Sony fanbase is from the rest of the world, should cross platform games become more commonplace, this would actually serve to harm Sony than benefit it. PlayStation Nation would then be more akin to North Korea but with some visas allowing cross platform play on PC alone.
Besides, you can’t have your cake and eat it; you can’t claim to be “for the players” and then shaft them because of concerns for your investors. Sony’s proclamation will always be subject to scrutiny.
4. “But Microsoft refused this last gen!”
So? Just like Sony is in the wrong now, Microsoft was back then. Are you really telling me that Sony is so vindictive that it won’t play ball because of Microsoft’s stance on cross platform play last gen? This is a shoddy excuse unless you are simply just drawing attention to the fact.
Call to Action
Due to the fact that Sony commands a massive lead in the gaming industry, should they refuse to budge on this stance, I fear that we will lose the opportunity for a fully unified online gaming community.
There are some technical challenges ahead but none of these can really be addressed if Sony continues to reject cross platform gaming with other consoles. Jim Ryan states that the policy is always up for review and therefore, this isn’t set in stone so we should apply pressure on Sony to rectify this. Make your voice heard and please, don’t excuse Sony here. Use the hashtag #PS4Crossplay to make your voices heard. Cross play benefits us all. We have enough borders in the real world for them to also exist in our digital realm.
Do you think Sony are wrong here? Are you one of those who excuses Sony? If so, let us know your thoughts on comments below. No registration necessary.