Nearly one month ago, it was made clear that PlayStation and Xbox players could play together. A small error in Fortnite allowed players from both consoles to play together, allowing friends, families, and complete strangers to interact in a way that has never been done before – the two communities rarely mix online.
While the Fortnite devs quickly resolved the issue and put the wall back up between consoles, Microsoft has been talking to Sony about making cross-play a thing.
Recently, Microsoft has brought together PC, Nintendo Switch (the update has yet to release on the Switch), and Xbox players in Minecraft with the Better Together update. The update is far from perfect, but it does exactly what it set out to do bring multiple online communities together.
All the while, Sony has not been too keen on the idea of playing together and has effectively blocked PS4 gamers off from Xbox and Nintendo players, claiming that they are thinking of their fanbase in doing so.
Xbox head, Phil Spencer, has come out to comment on the cross-play scenario. Spencer won't comment on Sony's motivation, but he says that cross-platform play is better for gamers and if it's better for gamers, that's what game developers and console makers should be aiming for.
In fact, allowing cross-play could even be better for developers, as they wouldn't have to create multiple online environments.
"I think people look at [cross-play] and say is it better for gamers. If it's better for gamers, I have a hard time thinking why we shouldn't go do this, especially when you're trying to make the gaming business a bigger business; grow it, get more games, create more opportunity. Especially in the indie space, actually. If you're creating an online indie game and you're going to create five [shards] of your game–the Steam version, Xbox Live on PC, Xbox version, the PlayStation version, the Switch version creates hard matchmaking scenarios. We should help developers, not make their lives more difficult.
"We talk to Sony all the time. With Minecraft on PlayStation, we have to be one of the biggest games on their platform in terms of sales and gameplay. Same with Nintendo. The relationship with Nintendo on this front has been strong. They've been great supporters and we continue to collaborate with them. But I think Sony's view is different. They should talk about what their view is…"
"I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines. I know there is a certain view that says if my friends have this console, they can't play with people who buy another console. That's a reason they go buy my console. That reason is not going to go away. So we're putting Minecraft out there as one of the biggest games on any platform and allowing people to play together regardless of what device they bought. I don't think everybody is taking that same approach to the ecosystem. So I'm never going to call anything a lost cause but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios, they're not really going away. So I don't know what would change."
It doesn't seem like Spencer quite understands (or agrees) with Sony's train of thought on why blocking cross-play is vital to the PlayStation ecosystem. Hopefully Sony allows it in the future or at least explains why in a way that doesn't sound like a lame excuse.