While most of the more irate grumbling on cross-play has come from players, developers and publishers have been more diplomatic in their views. Over the weekend at QuakeCon, however, Bethesda’s Pete Hines took a stronger stance with regards to Elder Scrolls: Legends.
In an interview with Game Informer, Hines said that Legends supported cross-play and cross-platform progress. It was the developer’s intention that every version of the game had both of those things – and while he didn’t name Sony directly or intimate a specific platform holder, he added that was “our message” to all platform holders.
“It is our intention in order for the game to come out, it has to be those things on any system,” Hines reportedly said. “We cannot have a game that works one way across everywhere else except for on this one thing.”
“But those are essentially non-negotiable. We can’t be talking about one version of Legends, where you take your progress with you, and another version where you stay within that ecosystem or its walled off from everything else. That is counter to what the game has been about.”
Again, Hines doesn’t specifically name Sony or any platform holders in the interview.
But it’s pretty cut and dry: given that Xbox and Nintendo have been more than happy to come to the table on cross-play before – Fortnite and Rocket League for instance – it’s clear that Sony is the intended target. As Hines puts it, Bethesda are giving the same message to all publishers: some are just more receptive than others.
It’s worth remembering that Bethesda’s Todd Howard has called Sony out before, too. When asked earlier this year about cross-play for Fallout 76, Howard said Sony was “not as helpful as everyone would like”.
The change of language is interesting, though. It’s understandable why Bethesda might not want to ship Legends on PS4 if cross-play wasn’t enabled: having to create and maintain a second ecosystem to operate just within Sony’s walls would be immensely frustrating and an unnecessary duplication of work.
Of course, biting the bullet and forgoing the largest console platform of the current generation is another matter entirely. But Bethesda’s language is some of the strongest we’ve seen publicly from a publisher, which is welcome news for gamers frustrated by the status quo.