Sony’s Crossplay stance was right, but time is running out
Is Sony’s crossplay stance right? Craig argues why blocking PlayStation owners from playing with everyone else is ok. For now.
At the start of the generation Sony were able to ride on a wave of consumer enthusiasm by fighting against change. They ensured that the PS4 would play used games, not require online authentication and still made a commitment to investing in wholly single-player focused games. All of which they’re very much still providing their PS4 owners with today.
Another feature that Sony has stuck with is crossplay, or rather, the lack of it. The widely publicised decision by Sony to not allow crossplay for various titles between PS4 and other consoles has received widespread criticism and much disdain. Is it entirely fair though?
While Fortnite and Rocket League have been in the focus by allowing crossplay between Xbox and Switch users, Sony’s refusal to allow it to happen on their platform now makes it an easy target for some; turning the once lauded console-maker – who stuck to their principles at the start of the generation – now being a target. This time, however, their policy is not in the interest of players.
For the moment though, it makes sense for Sony to stick to their principles from their own selfish point of view.
If they allow players of multiplayer games to play with owners of other consoles then Sony harm their own ability to sell PS4s to new customers. For an Xbox One gamer to play with a PS4 gamer they need to buy a PS4. If Sony blocks crossplay between different consoles – which they have -then the Xbox One gamer has no reason to purchase a PS4 and enter the PlayStation eco-system.
While we as gamers might want a utopian multiplayer answer, the companies that make what we love so much, need money to survive. At the end of the day, they’re all businesses and Sony, as the market-leading console manufacturer is trying to maximise their profit.
Is it fair to gamers? No, of course not. Consoles are extremely expensive for a piece of technology that can’t be easily expanded to do more. Paying significant amounts for consoles that do basically the same thing isn’t a smart decision financially.
As the market leader by some considerable distance, blocking crossplay with other consoles may seem like the smart move from Sony’s point of view, but as the console war for this generation starts to wind down and the next one begins, Xbox are beginning to position themselves as the more welcoming and open console.
Trust is built over a sustained period of time. You can’t buy it, you have to earn it. Microsoft threw a lot of that away at the start of the generation but with initiatives like Game Pass and crossplay at the front and centre of Phil Spencer’s new forward-thinking Xbox division, will Sony only realise the harm blocking crossplay will do when it’s too late?
Head of Sony’s Worldwide Studios Shawn Layden has acknowledged that Sony has a big decision to make regarding the situation, “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.”
The crossplay issue is starting to affect Sony’s share price and get major news corporations talking and reporting on it. Sony’s next move on the crossplay saga could make or break their next console.