After constant pressure - and the threat of losing millions of Fortnite players - Sony announced last year that they would be letting select games have cross-play with any platform. But the company hasn't exactly opened the floodgates since then, and developers are calling them out on that.
Taehoon Kim, chief executive of nWay Games (the team behind Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid), recently took aim at Sony during a panel at PAX East. The panel focused on esports and cross-play, and the role of cross-play in driving the esports industry forward.
Naturally, you couldn't bring up cross-play without talking about Sony. The company has been notoriously protective of its position as the dominant console of this generation, but the mass appeal of Fortnite eventually broke through. Studios have been grumpy about Sony's refusal to allow more games to have universal cross-play ever since.
"“We made many requests for crossplay (both through our account manager and directly with higher ups) all the way up until release month ... we were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen," the chief executive of Wargroove's creators Chucklefish, Finn Brice, said.
A couple of months on and not much has changed. During the panel, the nWay Games CEO noted that families like to play games together - and that Sony's policy really wasn't helping.
"Right now [cross-play isn't] fully there, because one of the biggest platforms out there, Sony, still isn’t fully opening up," Kim said.
"People want to play with their friends, and not all of your friends are going to be on the exact same platform as you are. Being able to do that is great. Also, families like to play together. One thing we’ve seen with games like Vainglory and Fortnite is that a whole family may want to play together, but nobody owns four PlayStations."
Sean Keith, head game lead at Tron Arcade, noted that it cross-play had a particularly democratising affect for gamers in Asia and South-East Asia. "You have a lot of countries where people don’t have PCs," he explained. "They only play games on their phones. Up to this point, before crossplay, they’ve been forced to play mobile games and only mobile games. Which are great, but if they wanted to play a game like Fortnite, they wouldn’t be able to play outside of something like a gaming cafe."
"As crossplay progresses, it’ll democratise, in some senses, esports. Suddenly, players who couldn’t participate in competitive games before now can through their phones. That’s at the grass-roots level."
The panel also touched on the idea of establishing weight classes or tiers - like motorsport - for people playing esports through different devices or platforms. It also covered different matchmaking techniques for cross-play, the concept of a shared metaverse between games powered by some form of blockchain, and more.
An abridged transcript of the panel can be read over at Venturebeat.