Bottom line: Sony appears to be somewhat open to enabling cross-play with other console makers but only time will tell if they will actually deliver on that promise.
The biggest gaming news in recent days has been Sony’s reluctance to enable cross-play multiplayer and the inability to use Epic Games accounts on any other console if it was first connected to a PS4. Sony released a weak statement touting cross-play between PC and mobile but also highlighting its 80 million active users on PlayStation Network. The implication is that because of the sheer number of PS4 users, cross-play with other rival consoles is unnecessary. However, at a the recent Gamelab conference in Spain, Sony Interactive Entertainment President and CEO Shawn Layden responded to the controversy saying:
“We’re hearing it,” Layden said. “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.”
The statement “supporting our business” is an important one. Sony seems to be afraid of losing PS4 sales to people who play the same games on other platform. Perhaps Sony believes that playing with people on other consoles devalues the reason to buy a PS4 (even if the primary reason people buy the PS4 is because of the excellent single player exclusives). Former head of Sony Online Entertainment, John Smedley flatly said in a since deleted tweet, “They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a PlayStation.” This is a moot point considering the PS4 is by far the winner of this console generation.
Regardless, Sony has definitely been feeling the pressure from frustrated gamers who can’t play Fortnite on other consoles. Microsoft and Nintendo have also cheekily poked fun at Sony’s obstinate stance by releasing a trailer that promoted Minecraft cross-play between the Xbox One and Switch.
Sony has built up a lot of goodwill in the gaming community since the PS4’s 2013 launch. However, it seems that goodwill is quickly dissolving and could potentially affect future console sales, great exclusives or not.