As the games industry continues to evolve and media becomes more and more digital, crossplay functionality seems the next logical step. In a recent article here at KeenGamer, we reported that the Fortnite crossplay problem likely won’t be going away any time soon. However, Sony need to accept this natural progression in the gaming landscape or suffer some loss of reputation. Now, another high profile game is shining a light on PlayStation’s negative policy on crossplay. Fallout 76 is strongly focused on online play and is the next in line to be screaming out for crossplay functionality. Game Director at Bethesda, Todd Howard recently stated an original intent to make it happen with Fallout 76 but that Sony were “…not as helpful as everybody would like. We would love to do [crossplay] but right now it’s just not possible.” This kind of statement from Howard, somebody with a high platform in gaming, will not be doing Sony’s PR any favours.
It’s no secret by now that hundreds of thousands of gamers were recently let down upon discovering they could not transfer their PS4 Fortnite save data to the Switch (or any other platform for that matter). In contrast to this, Microsoft and Switch have since fired shots in Sony’s direction, releasing a crossplay trailer for Minecraft on both platforms shortly after the Fortnite contoversy. This serves to inform the public that an insistence on refusing crossplay to PlayStation customers is not down to some baffling technical quandary. It’s a perfectly do-able function which leaves many asking why Sony won’t do it.
Leader of Online Division for publisher Daybreak Games, John Smedley recently learned the main motivator for Sony’s seeming shortcomings. Vague as it may be, it is the closest thing to answer we have received since the controversy originally gained traction with Rocket League. He stated in tweet, now removed, “…when I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money. They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. Simple as that. Dumb reason, but there it is.” Smedley later wrote “If we keep the pressure up, this problem goes away.”
This confirms prior fears that Sony is, for want of a better word, just being greedy. Their intention as it stands is to keep their player base all to themselves, selfishly insisting that they don’t enjoy any other platform. Similar to Apple's marketing strategy, they expect their customers to buy one PlayStation product and then use all the divisions of that product solely on PlayStation. It has worked well enough for Apple. Whether this tactic is viable in the games industry of today remains to be seen.
There is a chance that, in the face of all this backlash, Sony may change its tune. In a recent developers conference in Spain, President of Sony Interactive America, Shawn Layden stated that “we hear you.” Whether they have true intentions of bending to the greater will of gamers remains to be seen. In full, he stated “We’re hearing it. We’re looking at a lot of the possibilities,” said Layden. “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.”