Briefly: The entire internet seemed pretty disappointed with nearly every. single. publisher at this year’s E3 Expo (save for Nintendo, surprisingly). As wrong as the internet was about the convention as a whole (it was super great and I can’t wait to buy Skyrim two more times for two distinctly different reasons), every gamer on Earth rightly jumped for joy when the once pipe-dream that was Cross Platform play suddenly became a reality.
We’ve heard a lot of talk of building walls over these past six months — but this weekend, a longstanding virtual wall humbly began to crumble, and this is a trend that I certainly hope garners even more support over time.
The wall begins to crumble, that is, unless you’re playing on Sony’s platform.
Microsoft showed off their first Cross Platform title during their Keynote on Sunday with a gorgeous new version of Minecraft. It’s trailer began by showing off the Xbox One X version’s fancy new still-very-blocky graphics and talking about massive new server upgrades, among other things, before showing off a pixellated iPad, iPhone, Nintendo Switch, and a window (for Windows, duh).
That’s right. Later this year Xbox Owners will be able to play Minecraft with their pals playing on another platform, including Nintendo’s latest console. Yep, Nintendo, that company that makes the best games, but is so conservative with online capabilities that they’re typically not even worth trying. The same Nintendo that’s never really offered any useful form of online voice chat because you shouldn’t swear at kids when they beat you at Mario Kart 8. That Nintendo.
Today, the way-more-fun-than-it-has-any-right-to-be Rocket League was revealed to be coming to the Nintendo Switch, with developer Psyonix noting that Cross-Platform play would be supported on every platform that Rocket League can be played on… again, except Playstation.
Eurogamer had the chance to speak with PlayStation global sales and marketing head Jim Ryan about cross platform play, who noted:
It’s certainly not a profound philosophical stance we have against this. We’ve done it in the past. We’re always open to conversations with any developer or publisher who wants to talk about it. Unfortunately it’s a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I’m not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance. And I can see your eyes rolling.
Sony had to have been one of the first companies to support some semblance of cross platform play, with Final Fantasy XI having PS2 and PC players playing in the same servers. Obviously I’m speculating here, but Ryan’s response almost sounds like he thinks that it’s silly that he doesn’t have a different answer to give. He mentions stakeholders specifically — could this have been shareholder led decision? In any case, I don’t think that Sony or anyone else would have guessed that Nintendo would have been announced as a cross platform partner. Maybe the Switch truly is the rebirth of the company from a core values level.
When asked about Minecraft specifically, Ryan gives a canned, classic Nintendo answer (except that he works for Sony and Sony is totally being the Nintendo in this situation):
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. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.
This entire debacle just seems like an extremely shortsighted move from Sony — if Sony’s decision to block cross platform gaming is a monetary one, I don’t really see how it will benefit the behemoth in the long run, especially if we begin to see cross platform multiplayer become a more regular occurrence. Naturally, I’m going to pick up the version of a game that will let me play it with the most friends, which won’t be Sony’s console in most cases. On top of that, if I’m a parent looking to buy a new console for the family, am I going to choose the one that will allow my kids to play Minecraft with their iPad touting friends, or limit them to just other Playstation owners? That’s a pretty easy decision to make.
Thankfully, while it doesn’t sound like support is being actively talked about, it doesn’t sound like it’s been completely ruled out, either. Ryan closed saying “I don’t think anything is ever a done deal. Anybody who is dogmatic in that manner is typically a fool. That said, to my knowledge, there is no live conversation ongoing at the moment.”
As a gamer whose Dualshock 4 controller has a permanent place on my coffee table: Sony, we’re disappointed in you.
Which multiplayer titles would you like to see made available on all platforms? Be sure to sound out below.