Sony made the big, unexpected announcement this week that it will finally allow cross-play between PlayStation 4 and competing consoles like Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. The first supported game is Fortnite, while others may follow later. Now, Microsoft and other companies have responded to Sony’s announcement, and it seems that nothing has been decided regarding other titles that may support cross-play down the track.
Starting with Microsoft, the company responded to PlayStation’s tweet about cross-play with the raising hands emoji. As of 1 AM ET on September 26. Xbox boss Phil Spencer, who has been one of Microsoft’s most outspoken proponents of cross-play, has not tweeted at all about the cross-play news. Neither has Xbox marketing boss Aaron Greenberg. That doesn’t mean much, though, as tweets are just tweets and not everyone has time or interest to tweet.
A Microsoft spokesperson responded to Sony’s cross-play news with a statement to IGN in which it says it is “supportive of new scenarios that enable more people to play and have fun together while gaming.” The statement added that Microsoft hopes Sony will allow cross-play for Minecraft, but added that it has “nothing further to share at this time.”
Minecraft, which Microsoft owns, currently supports cross-play between consoles like Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. On Switch, players have to create a Microsoft Account to play. If such a requirement was in place for PS4, that might be one of the reasons why Sony isn’t willing to connect PS4 with Xbox One for Minecraft.
IGN also spoke to Activision Blizzard about cross-play. The company remarked that it has already had a “great experience” with cross-play for Hearthstone, adding that the company recognises how cross-play is a “compelling” feature for many. However, Activision Blizzard said it still has “a lot of work to do” internally and with its partners like Xbox and PlayStation to decide if cross-play will be added to its other titles. “So we’ll be watching the upcoming [PS4 cross-play test for Fortnite] and will assess what the potential impact of this feature would be for our players and our games,” the Activision Blizzard representative said.
Another developer, Rocket League studio Psyonix, chimed in as well. VP of Publishing Jeremy Dunham said Psyonix is “really happy” that Sony is allowing cross-play for Fortnite, adding that it is a “great step forward” for the gaming industry. He went on to say that Psyonix is aware that Rocket League fans want cross-play between PS4 and Xbox One, but there is no word on when this could happen.
Rocket League supports cross-play on console between Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but not PlayStation 4; and it looks like it’s going to stay that way for a while longer. Psyonix was among the first studios to express interest in cross-play support on console.
Dunham added that cross-play support for Rocket League comes with a number of challenges, including political ones. He also said he wants to ensure that if Rocket League ever supports cross-play between competing consoles that players won’t have their accounts locked to one platform as other games have done.
We are looking into it. Not as easy to implement that some might think. Several political challenges as well. Wouldn’t want it to work the same way as Fortnite either; locking an account on one platform for a multi-platform setup is no bueno
— Jeremy Dunham (@DunhamSmash) September 22, 2018
One of the issues people had with Sony over its cross-play stance was that, in Fortnite, players were locked out of their accounts if they played the game on another platform. Thankfully, Epic Games is addressing this with an upcoming update. Epic is working on an account-merging feature that allows players to combine their purchases that should launch in November. On the more immediate horizon, in the next few days Epic will enable players to unlink their console from a Fortnite account and re-link to another account. This is all good news for people who frustratingly had to create multiple accounts to play on different systems.
Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson has also spoken enthusiastically about cross-play, though whether or not Battlefield V or other upcoming EA games support cross-play remains to be seen.
“We’re looking at key franchises in terms of how we should deliver cross-platform play … in a similar way that Fortnite has, especially … some of our titles have a broad and diverse player base,” Wilson said in July. “Households typically have one console, so the ability to bring PC to console and console to mobile into that play experience can bring families together, can bring friends together. And we think it’s an important part of our future development profile, both in terms of mobile games that we have today moving up per se to console and PC, and console and PC games being playable in mobile. And I expect more from us on that front in the future.”
Sony’s announcement of cross-play support comes a few months after the company said in July that it was confident it would be able to find a solution that makes gamers happy and preserves Sony’s business interests. The specifics about the deal Sony hammered out with relevant parties to make cross-play a reality have not been disclosed and likely won’t be.
In March 2016, Microsoft made the unexpected announcement that it had invited other networks, such as PlayStation Network and Nintendo’s service, to connect to Xbox Live. It was a major announcement, considering cross-play between competing consoles was basically unheard of until that point.
What do you make of Sony’s big cross-play announcement? Let us know in the comments below!