In the days since E3, Fortnite fans have found that they can combat friends across PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Android and iOS devices. One major player is missing from this line-up. Sony has been resisting the swelling calls for gamer unification while hoping it can ride out the storm of negative commentary towards the company’s stance. The lack of cross-play with Fortnite between Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch has brought the issue front and center, once again.
The CEO and president of Sony Interactive Entertainment, Shawn Layden, has issued a comment on the issue. At this week’s Gamelab conference in Spain, Eurogamer boldly asked the Sony head why the company wasn’t listening to the players on this issue. This is what Layden had to say.
“We’re hearing it. 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.”
In an age of social interconnectivity, consumers are having a much larger impact on the direction companies choose to take, particularly in the video game industry. Just last year, massive backlash caused EA to pull microtransactions from Battlefront II before the title even released. It appears that similar disappointment among the players is starting to have an effect on Sony as the company rethinks its actions on the matter.
The History of Sony’s Battle with Cross-play
As most are aware, cross-play functionality has been a hot topic since E3. In particular, it’s been a sore spot for PlayStation gamers. Developers are pushing to connect their fans across any and all platforms. Last year, both Minecraft and Rocket League developers sought to connect the platforms for cross-play amongst friends with different gaming machines. At the time, Sony refused to allow cross-play functionality with PlayStation. There was a bit of outrage among fans and critics alike. One simple question was on everyone’s mind at the time. Why?
In June of 2017, Eurogamer put Sony to task asking that very question. Sony’s head of marketing, Jim Ryan, offered a response that didn’t help the situation. In fact, it left most people scratching their heads. In the exchange he stated the following:
“We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft – the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”
The response left Eurogamer’s own, Wesley Yin-Poole, confused by Sony’s approach of doing-it-for-the-kids mentality. Yin-Poole compared the most children-friendly console to this situation. If Nintendo is okay with it, why not Sony? Eventually, Sony rode out the storm and the issue faded.
Fast forward to E3 2018. As anticipated, Fortnite made its way to the Nintendo Switch. With that announcement came the inevitable. Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch would be able to cross-play with Xbox One, PC, and mobile platforms. Once again, PlayStation was excluded from that list. At first, the outrage started all over again as PlayStation gamers still could not play with their friends on other platforms. Keep in mind, this is involving the most popular game to hit the market in the past couple of years. Sony responded to the issue, once again. In a statement to BBC, this is what they had to say:
“We’re always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience. With… more than 80 million monthly active users on PlayStation Network, we’ve built a huge community of gamers who can play together on Fortnite and all online titles.”
The statement missed the mark for most fans. The issue wasn’t about the lack players to engage with. It was about being unable to connect with friends on other consoles. Sony went on to state that they have enabled cross-play with PC, Mac, Android, and iOS devices. It became clear that Sony’s decision was a business decision. The issue was further complicated when it was discovered that any Epic account used on PlayStation could not be removed only to be added to the Nintendo Switch or another platform. Gamers who are seeking to move away from Sony’s isolation and take all of their content to another platform will find that they are unable to do so.
The openness of Microsoft and Nintendo has been a strategy that works against Sony. Recently, a new Minecraft commercial boldly highlighted the absence of PlayStation cross-play from its title by emphasizing Nintendo and Microsoft’s cooperation. There is a lot of pressure on Sony to course-correct. Social interconnectivity is certainly the way of the future. And, it’s possible that Sony won’t simply be able to ride out the storm this time without damage to its own brand.
What are your thoughts on the cross-play issue? Let us know in the comments below.
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