Sony Is The Only Remaining Obstacle To PS4-Xbox Cross-Play

In recent days, the developers behind Rocket League and The Witcher 3 have both called for Sony to break down the walls separating PlayStation Network and Xbox Live and allow cross-platform multiplayer. This idea kicked off in March, when Microsoft announced native support for cross-platform play between Windows 10 and Xbox One. It also allowed for "other console and PC networks". What they meant, though, was PlayStation 4.

Microsoft's statement was vague, with the company praising how Rocket League on Xbox One could connect with PC players, leaving "an open invitation for other networks to participate". (PS4 players could already join those on PC.)

At the time, Sony told GameSpot it was, at least, open to the idea:

PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play.

What's changed in the last few days are developers making an open call for Sony to make good on having that conversation with publishers and developers.

In an interview with IGN, Psyonix president Jeremy Dunham explained how the Rocket League developer had already taken care of the technical side of things.

"We're literally at the point where all we need is the go-ahead on the Sony side," said Dunham, "and we can, in less than a business day, turn it on and have it up and working no problem. It'd literally take a few hours to propagate throughout the whole world, so really we're just waiting on the permission to do so."

In another statement to IGN, CD Projekt RED CEO Marcin Iwiński supported Psyonix. (Props to them for asking developers about their stance on it!)

"Our upcoming Gwent: The Witcher Card Game will launch in closed beta for PC and Xbox One later this year," said Iwiński, "and Microsoft already confirmed Gwent's cross-play feature not only between Xbox One and PC, but also other consoles if they allow it. We also do have a technical solution in place for PS4 and would love to add Sony's platform to cross-play at the start of open beta. All we need is a green light from Sony."

Sony did not respond to my request for comment.

Of course, it's easy to argue there's not much in it for Sony. It it good for players? Sure! Might it encourage developers to make more Xbox games? Possibly! Maybe, just maybe, the first one will be enough for them.


Comments

    Here's hoping. Half my friends are on Playstation, the other half Xbox, and we're all a bit too old and busy to justify owning two consoles.

      Busy I can understand but too old?!?! hell no man! Age is a state of mind!
      I got my grandad (ex-military) on to RTS games, i think i created a shut-in now...

        “Too old” might not be the right term, but I can certainly relate to being someone with too many responsibilities and commitments to own multiple machines.

        If it was still N64 days (when I only owned a Nintendo console) then sure, but these days the Xbox, PS and PC get swamped with so many massive, quality titles that you really need to have a lot of spare time to get through all the quality on offer for a single system.

        Sony have the upper hand here because the PS4 is so far ahead of the Xbone in terms of sales. If you want a new console to play with your mates, chances are they’ll have a PS4 which means chances are YOU’LL buy a PS4.

        As soon as you add cross-play you lose that advantage, someone who wants to play Rocket League with their friends but who’s a racing fan might by an Xbone, for example, instead of waiting an eternity for the next GT game. That said, a person who’s friends have Xbone’s will probably buy a PS4…. because it’s generally better console.

        Hey we game, I just mean we're really too busy to justify two consoles, time for one can be struggle enough. You'd end up with one collecting dust, plus it doesn't help if half of you buy a game on one platform and the other half on another, or if half of you prefer one controller and the other half the other. The only reason my Wii-U gets any love is being able to play directly on the controller without the TV, I can't remember the last time I used it on the TV. Xbox hogs that time.

    This has never been a problem for me. The best thing about console multiplayer was always the evened playing field. IMO, that is good reason to decide to implement this on a title by title basis and not the platform as a whole.

      I think thats the idea, with the developers making the decision. Problem in the past was Microsoft isolating the Xbox range specifically to isolate them from PC, as they tried to establish the brand, with Sony happy to go cross platform, and now we've come full circle.

      It makes sense for some games to be cross platform, and from a developer angle its not that hard - PS4 and XBone are pretty close to each other hardware wise.

      Be more interesting to see if any of the 3 platforms dominated, and why. We've talked for years about mouse/keyboard being better in FPS games, so would that be borne out if this happened with a big franchise like COD or Battlefield?

        I suspect that twitch shooters would have to restrict cross-platform play, either to console vs console or at least require controllers if you want to play cross-platform from PC. For something like Gwent, it really shouldn't be a problem.

          There's the catch though. They're the games most people would be screaming cross play for. Its those big franchises that are the obvious candidates for this.

          And once Sony crosses with one of the rival platforms theres no strong argument not to cross with the other. Which is where it gets interesting. If I was Sony, I'd leave Microsoft to do cross platform thing first under their Live accounts, and see how it plays out.

          If there isnt some dominance due to controller issues, go ahead, otherwise, point to the dominance and use that as their reasoning. And I'd openly use that as the excuse now. Microsoft is pushing on this to get a market benefit, Sony needs to take some of that initiative away.

          As a PC gamer, I wouldnt play a FPS where I couldnt use mouse/keyboard. As a PS4 gamer, I wouldnt want to play a game where PC players dominated because of it. Tough spot for all, from developers (who dont want to hurt their brand with balance issues) to the manufacturers (ditto).

            Agreed, I myself love playing with DS4/ XB controller. I prefer it over Mouse+KB. I use one even on PC. It's a subjective thing that's related to experience and not performance.

            What I would hate, is to have to resort to M+KB for the consoles, just for that competitive edge which by the way is significant for obvious reasons. Which is why don't play multiplayer shooters on PC.

            PC has it's charm, but an even playing field for all, is not one of them.

      Just don't allow a mix of kb/mouse and controller players in shooters. Me personally? I tore my dorsal ligament on the right arm, I'll never be any good with a mouse again due to cramping. I also prefer movement on controller vs keyboard, it feels far more natural. However I know a controller will never be competitive vs mouse in a shooter, so my PC shooters are single player only. Adding mouse players to console games would ruin the balance, with mouse players trick shotting the playfield and controller players having auto aim assist.

    No reason for them to do it. We realllly do not want Xbox players on the PS4 platform... heard nothing good about the Xbox community at all.

      Uh huh. Tell us all about the enlightened, civil conversations the PlayStation folks have while sipping port, smoking cigars and voting for Donald Trump, will you?

    I find it an odd stance from Sony, especially as they are ahead in sales and have the more powerful console (and before the fanbois jump in, I own both so am not biased on way or another)

    At the moment the number one reason imho to buy an xbone or buy games on xbone over ps4 is to do with where your friends already are. Case in point, I got Overwatch on Xbox as I know people on Xbox playing it. If I could have played "cross play" I would have got it on ps4.

      As I understand it, the issue is more that Microsoft is pushing with both rival platforms, not just Xbox. Their dominance with Windows 10 is playing a part in this, and Sony is being careful with this one. Its not just PS4 v Xbone, its effectively PS4 v Xbox Live, so Xbone and Win10 combined.

      Its a decision that cant be undone once its made, I dont blame them for hesitating.

        You've hit the nail on the head. They need to consider the fact that consoles themselves only have, at best, another 5-10 years in them. Microsoft is very smart positioning Xbox as a service rather than a product, and they'll weather the storm. Xbox is essentially a less profitable (but still profitable) arm of a profitable company. PlayStation is the only profitable arm of a company that is loosing billions and they couldn't cope with one of their consoles failing as appetite for console-gaming decreases. Stalling on cross-platform might stop some next-gen leakage.

      Yeah but they're ahead and looking to capitalise on their growing lead by forcing players to take a side. Right now my friend is looking at upgrading from a 360 and she is leaning towards the PS4. If she goes with the PS4 then I'm going to play my PS4 more often. A few years of that and the XBOX One becomes a ghost town.
      It's a way of using all the early adopters who jumped ship when Microsoft botched their launch to pressure current buyers to follow.

      Meanwhile Microsoft are in favour of it publicly because A) Sony's early converts are hurting them and B) they think Sony have too much to lose from it to do it. Microsoft might not want it either, but they can get all the good publicity from asking for it because they know Sony aren't very likely to call their bluff.
      It's like if they were to tell Nintendo they want to eliminate console exclusives and make all games available on all consoles. Both sides would consider that a huge loss to their ability to sell consoles so Microsoft would never actually do it, but as long there's no chance of Nintendo saying yes Microsoft have nothing to lose and Nintendo look bad for not giving gamers what they want.

    Sounds good to me, increased functionality would always help sell a product.

    The PS4 is a bit more expensive so maybe Sony are worried that casual gamers enticed in by this new functionality would pick the cheaper console rather than the one that *hypothetically* all their friends are on?

    So if they achieve XB/PS cross play, will this be the first polished true cross platform game? im not aware of any others

    The one with smaller market share quietly pushes for cross platform while the one with larger market share wants to leave it as is. Same as last gen with the names reversed and it will be the same result.

    A larger install base is a selling point that converts into more sales. Doing this would just remove that benefit for them. Unless there is some other benefit to offset that, I really cant see this happening.

    It would help in certain parts of the world. In Asia, the PS3/4 is the dominant console, which means that Xbox players don't get a lot of server love. Cross-platform multiplayer would make it easier for Xbox players to get decent match ups.

    If the Black Friday episodes of South Park are anything to go by, Sony had better come to the party. Otherwise, Bill Gates is gonna fuck them up.

    This would definitly help with the way games multiplayer communities have rapidly died off after launch this gen (anecdotally).

    There's no way Sony goes for this.
    They're in the lead, and forcing people to play where their friends are only serves to benefit them whilst they have more market share.

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