Under pressure, Sony claims it’s looking into solving its crossplay dilemma

Under great amounts of pressure to reverse its anti-crossplay stance with the PlayStation 4, Sony has finally capitulated somewhat by saying that it is looking at possibilities and trying to come up with a solution that will allow its console to play nice with others. Now, what that solution will look like and how it will function is anyone’s guess.

“You can imagine that the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game,” said Sony Interactive Entertainment America CEO Shawn Layden. “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.”

While the PlayStation 4’s lack of crossplay isn’t exactly new, its stonewalling of Fortnite accounts from other systems brought it under heavy fire this month from players and media. Additionally, Microsoft and Nintendo recently released an unprecedented “Survive Together” crossplay ad that took aim at Sony by excluding the company altogether.

Former SOE President John Smedley tweeted last week about the historical reasons for Sony’s feet-dragging. “When I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money,” Smed said, referring to his time at the company prior to 2015. “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. […] If we keep the pressure up this problem goes away.” However, Smed pointed out he wasn’t necessarily talking about Sony’s current position. “I was just talking about when I was there. Nothing to do with Fortnite and I’m not saying that’s the reason now.”

Source: VG247
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23 Comments on "Under pressure, Sony claims it’s looking into solving its crossplay dilemma"

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Robert Mann

It’s funny, but mainly because way back when they learned the reluctance from Microsoft (who had the biggest hardware share and didn’t want to lose the money.) Amazing how tables turn, the same stuff happens, and the previous villains blame the new villains without any sort of acknowledgement of the past.

The only real difference was that Sony was sitting there going “Yeah, that’d be okay. We could do that. Microsoft has to get on board first.” Or, in short, they were cooler about it back then… and still went full cheesy villain mode once they had enough people to be in the other seat.

**There was a whole big kerfuffle over MS and statements around the time of the original Defiance beta. Back when the TV show was a thing.**

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David Goodman

Even if the crossplay thing wasn’t an issue, I still think the biggest problem is the locking out of Fortnite accounts that were registered/created on /played on other platforms.

That’s the biggest thing that boggles my mind; Sony has a playerbase large enough that it doesn’t need crossplay, but the account thing really should be more the issue, despite the sick burns by M$ and Nintendo. I feel it’s obfuscating a bigger issue — by requiring a new account, you make people who want to play on the playstation pay more to re-purchase any microtransactions they had previously, costing the consumer more money.

I want to know if THAT part is being blocked by Sony, or if it’s a decision on Epic’s part using Sony’s lack of crossplay as a shield? Bit tinfoil-hatty there. Either way, fix that part.

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Sray

Epic Games is definitely culpable in this. It might feel a little tinfoil hat-ish, but you’re not wrong: they’re definitely benefiting from the locked accounts, hence the reason why they’re not pressuring Sony for the platform sharing. However, this is far from just Epic Games that does this: an account for TERA, or DCUO can’t be shared across platforms; and both Minecraft and FFXIV require you to purchase the base game and expansions on both PC and Xbox/PS4 if you want share your account across the platforms. The companies do this because they know people will repurchase things they had on a different system.

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dinwitt

This. I think people were begrudgingly accepting of Sony not doing crossplay, it was lame but expected of the console leader. Locking accounts to the PS4 though? Especially ones that had only purchased things via PC or mobile? People should be outraged about that. Massively is doing the issue a huge disservice by constantly painting it as a crossplay thing when its so much worse.

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Christopher Angeles

It’s sad because at one point PS4’s slogan was “This is 4 the players”.

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Jack Pipsam

The further they delay, the worse they’ll look.

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Denice J. Cook

You wonder how quickly Sony’s Playstation will get left in the dust now that people can buy cross-play games for the Switch and Xbone. People won’t be cross-playing on the PS4, but they also may not be playing on the PS4 at all anymore except for console exclusives. ;)

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Jon Wax

you can hope but what’s gonna happen is rdr2 will destroy what lil life xbone has left and then subsequent releases will basically piss on ms tombstone. ms has a dumbass business model with xbox: they pit their own console vs their own pc. dumbass biz model.

expect a 2028 announce that they will switch from console to service based system: they will try to turn all your gear, pc, phone, tablet, etc. into “xboxes” by selling you some 20-50$ per month service for mobile gaming.

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Sray

It’s a handful of games that can be played cross-platform right now, and cross-platform is really only something that you “need” if your install base is too small to support you on a single platform. Combined, the Xbox and Switch still only make up about 3/4 of the PS4 install base. Furthermore, competitive console players don’t like, and don’t want cross-play with the PC. So the players looking for the largest number of people to play with on the console will still gravitate towards the PS4, because it certainly doesn’t “need” cross-play.

I’m not saying I agree with Sony’s stance on cross-play, as I’ve said elsewhere on this page, but the idea that suddenly millions of people will suddenly stop buying PS4s, or stop playing multiplayer games on their PS4, is a bit hyperbolic.

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Sray

While it seems stupid that Sony isn’t allowing crossplay, there is a reasonably sound business reason for it: for customers who only care about multiplayer games, crossplay means that one platform is just as good as another. Consumers will go after the cheapest platform they can get their hands on; which leads to price wars on already heavily subsidized hardware (a $175 USD PS4 or Xbox One might sound great to consumers, but it doesn’t to Sony or Microsoft). Crossplay not only nullifies Sony’s advantage, but it ultimately highlights the platform’s weaknesses (no backwards compatibility; a crappy catalog streaming service that is hopelessly outclassed by the Xbox Game Pass; the inability to natively play digitally purchased games on both the PC and console); so unless there’s multiplayer content that is exclusive to one platform, Sony’s present advantage evaporates.

Making deals for exclusive content is what Sony has been doing, but that probably won’t continue if there’s widespread crossplay. The reason why companies Activision-Blizzard puts timed exclusives out on the Playstation for games like Destiny and CoD is because each platform is its own ecosystem: PC players play only with other PC players, P4 players only with other PS4 players, etc. That’s fine when one ecosystem has something that another doesn’t because you’re not splitting your player base (which is already a big problem for games that sell map packs). However, this is not ideal when dealing with a single ecosystem of players, which crossplay creates, as you create have and have-nots within that ecosystem based on their choice of hardware, which creates unhappy customers who go looking for other games that don’t do that. Crossplay severely hampers Sony’s ability to cut deals for exclusive content.

I could go on further spelling out the complexity of this for Sony, but this is starting to turn into a novel. The point is, there is a sound reasoning behind Sony not allowing crossplay. Do I agree with it? Not necessarily: it shows very little consideration for their strengths (such as the best single player game library of the generation; superior integration of services like Twitch and Spotify; and a more responsive OS, which makes for a superior streaming media experience), and also ignores the importance of simply having consumers within your ecosystem.

Ultimately Sony is probably just going to waffle it’s way through the rest of this generation, probably washing its hands of responsibility to put the onus on the third party publishers, while also making it a crap deal for those publishers and their players (doing things like taking a bigger cut of microtransactions done on the Playstation, and making the players of cross-platform games have to sign into an account with the publisher every time they log in [huge pain in the ass on a console]). So yeah, I think they’ll allow it, but make it such a crappy deal that many publishers won’t bother.

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xanadox

Ok about crossplay, but why are they blocking accounts?
What benefits are they looking for?
I won’t start playing on PS4 any non exclusive PS4 game as I won’t be able to continue playing in another platform.
And I can’t agree to the Sony’s ownership of the account that has been developed by my time and my money.
Fornite can harm heavily PS4 status and Sony has to react quick.

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Sray

They’re blocking accounts because they want you to spend the money on their store. If you buy Fortnite V-bucks on the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo gets a piece of that money, yet you can use those V-bucks on the PS4 and Sony gets nothing. That’s a tough pill for any company to swallow. Nintendo doesn’t do much on their e-shop yet to feel like that hurts them; Microsoft is lagging so far behind that they need crossplay to have the same size of player base as Sony; and PC gamers don’t jump platform much, so the PC is often not even seen as a direct competitor. The other platforms have little to lose by allowing the account sharing, but there’s not a lot of upside for Sony, from their perspective.

Again though, I don’t necessarily agree with Sony: they’re not wrong per se, but when you take a look at companies like Google, Apple, and Amazon, you can see how beneficial it is simply getting customers into your ecosystem. This is an issue that’s not very important to a lot of gamers, most play on a single platform and the majority of Fortnite players are completely unaware of this controversy; but for the players who do care, in my opinion Sony would do better to have them playing on the PS4, even if they bought their V-bucks on a competitor’s platform: allowing the account sharing gives Sony a chance to sell cross platform players more V-bucks or something else that those players can’t get from Nintendo or Microsoft.

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Jon Wax

probably because the game is going free to play at the end of the year so they have some focus on getting as much profit from it as possible?

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xanadox

Sorry, I don’t undestand you.
Fornite Battle Royale is free to play now.
What game are you talking about?

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Sray

Fortnite Save the World (PVE campaign) will be free to play by the end of the year. Apparently ownership of it right now gives battle passes for Battle Royale, so many players are buying the Save the World package to save money on buying battle passes. I think it might only work for the deluxe edition, but that’s probably what he’s referring to.

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Sorenthaz

Weird. I was under the impression Fortnite already was crossplay with PC, PS4, and XB1. Unless they left out XB1 players from that? ’cause I’m 90% sure that when you queue in Fortnite you can have crossplay set to where you can even face people playing on tablets/phones.

I think in general though this just highlights how silly these “console wars” have become. Wasn’t it Microsoft a few years ago that was giving excuses for not doing crossplay while Sony was the one pushing for it?

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Robert Mann

Yep, back when they were the primary hardware (or software OS) involved and they stood to lose a lot of money just like this. Sony was less aggressive about pushing it though.

But people’s memories are short, and a new villain is easy to hate.

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Kay

“Wasn’t it Microsoft a few years ago that was giving excuses for not doing crossplay while Sony was the one pushing for it?”

Not really. Microsoft was against it with other consoles and Sony was basically silent on it. Sony was never like Microsoft is now, being actually for it and actually pushing it.

Andrew Ross
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Andrew Ross

Actually, from devs, PR, and marketing I spoke with during that time, Sony was in the position of, “We’ll do it if they’ll do it.” They already allowed cross-play with their MMOs like the FF MMOs.

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Matthäus Wey

At the moment the situation should be like everyone can play with each other except PS4 as they can only play with PC players together.

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Schmidt.Capela

Actually, PS4 can play with anything except XBox and Switch.

XBox and Switch can play with anything except PS4, and every other platforms (PC, Mac, and Mobile) can play with all platforms.

And yeah, those restrictions were in place since way before the Switch version was released. If you ever played with a Fortnite account on the PS4 it wouldn’t be usable on the XBox, and vice-versa.

The issue wasn’t as noticeable before the Switch version because players are unlikely to have both a XBox One and a PS4, and even less likely to alternate between those home consoles when playing a single game; the Switch, though, being a portable, fills a different niche, so it’s far more common for players to not only have both a PS4 and a Switch, but also to choose a different console to play a given game depending on their current circumstances.

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Dug From The Earth

Solution to allow it?

Developers have ALREADY shown how easy it is to do and that it works

The ONLY thing holding it back from happening is business policy. IE: Sony feels it will be a financial loss if they start allowing cross play.

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Darthbawl

Dear Sony, it’s 2018… Quit being so tight wadded over things like this cross play.