[NOTE #1: It’s fair to note Sony has a plethora of online games with PS4/PC cross-play enabled. Any time “cross-play” by itself is stated it’s not trying to pull a sleight of hand, but rather for brevity’s sake.]
This issue sure has reared its ugly head again! And before having to deal with the sneering rebukes from the crowd, as I'm riding the enthusiasm of this regurgitated topic, it's fair to note this wouldn't exist were it not for more nonsense PR on the topic. But I also wanted to discuss the issue of Sony's (console) cross-play restraint—along with their overboard grip on Fortnite—as an exercise against faulty takes I've seen. Perhaps also as a catalog when this debate comes up.
A preface before starting: no matter how stupid the action, company execs and/or PR will say whatever they must to save face. This is not exclusive to any one company. All have done it in the past and will do so in the future. And no poster is immune from maintaining a vendetta-based rationale on this console war stuff so hopefully nothing gets too personal. Fair enough? Okay. Onto the meat of this blog.
This past weekend, The Independent ran an article quoting Sony's Yoshida about why they don't allow cross-play on Fortnite. To no one's surprise, it was a silly response:
“On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that's our belief.” (1)
The topic of cross-play has gradually gained popularity, especially over the past year as Switch has opened its doors for console cross-play on Minecraft and Rocket League (2) (3). And there were the subsequent blunders from Sony damage control back then (4). But today, I want to use some generalized stances and attempt to rebut them. Let's get started.
1.). "You're only interested because of who's being targeted!"
Rebuttal #1: The tactic of distraction. We should focus on the PRINCIPLE of the matter & whether this consumer-friendly idea should be implemented more broadly. Personifying the company not doing the beneficial thing in question as a victim of selective criticism continues to be ridiculous.
2.). "Convenient timing to start talking about it now, ain’t it?!?!"
Rebuttal #2: For starters, *see Rebut #1*. The trend of recycling this discussion is heavily inspired by games’ online-only setup much more often today. Such ‘subtle’ suggestions disregard the history of cross-play’s popularity among vocal developers as well, which is why I can only recall learning about this stuff during the 8th generation. It’s a topic that hadn’t really latched on with mainstream outlets outside the rare examples of 7th gen console MMO’s anyways; expecting the same kind of firestorm as there is today isn’t reasonable given those circumstances.
3.). "That's funny. I don't remember PlayStation fans causing a ruckus about this when M$ put hurdles on potential cross-play titles!"
Rebuttal #3: Again, *see Rebut #1*. You're also incorrect, as there's proof on this very site. While it's harder to track down cross-play articles from 7th gen, many posters took issue with MS when Square Enix discussed it as the reason FF14 Online didn't get a Xbox One version years ago (5) (6). Even if you want to decry how YOU personally weren't engaged in that discussion, strengthening my Rebuttal #2 in the process, the fact remains: it was talked about here and the majority thought it was a foolish stance to have. If you have now read this portion and seen the easily-provided links I ask you to stop spreading disinformation.
4.). "Wow...MS was initially the problem when it comes to this but now the tables have turned and Sony's just doing the same business."
Rebuttal #4: In my view there's two strands of reactive arguments going on here: comeuppance and financial.
In respect to getting back at MS: then you're implicitly agreeing that having a walled garden from other consoles IS a blemish. You see where this goes, right? If such an action by MS is considered a dark blot on their past—with similar reasoning as Yoshida currently has—then why should it be hunky-dory now? You can't have it both ways.
Further, one can now posit the claim that Sony may not have been all that sincere in suggesting cross-console play with the 360 were the roles different. After all, why not?
Publisher X: Began a hardline stance of keeping online service a walled garden, which has now changed its tune and has been open to cross-play across virtually everything (when appropriate like with Minecraft).
Publisher Y: Began with a more open stance to cross-console play, which has now changed its tune to remain a semi-walled garden (with the same flawed reasoning from publisher X of years past)
Neither have remained consistent in their intentions; only one has moved forward in a positive way.
And if we're going to provide defense for Sony based on a business lens well...you're hitting a few inconsistent strands here:
• If taking down the walled garden with other consoles SUPPOSEDLY is like helping your competition, then why did MS get dragged through the mud on this to begin with?
• If you're striving to be consistent, finding the ideal most beneficial for consumers should be the focus. It’s easy to decry yet another round of EA’s newfound DLC tactics, yet the tune becomes more relaxed and considerate of how this effects Sony’s bottom line.
• BONUS: If the PS4 is “the best way to play” then their business should continue to flourish regardless of enabling cross-play.
5). "This is essentially a non-issue that I, and many others, don't see what the ruckus is about."
Rebuttal #5: Well, if you're one of those who's never had a strong opinion on it—regardless of who looked worse at the time—then I appreciate the honesty; but at the same time, just because you're apathetic to the issue doesn't mean we're all now obligated to be in lockstep with you. This is the strangest phenomenon when looking at this topic too: the bizarre demand for everyone else to have the same indifference as you do.
We can simply look at the issue, acknowledge how it one less functional thing that COULD be in this version of the game, and how obnoxious justifications have been for this in the past (1) (4). If it's just a minor deal then it should be of no concern to acknowledge this chink in the armor.
If you're one of those apathetic to this whole charade perhaps I can implore you to have a more comprehensive approach too. You see...maybe consider less of the topic of cross-play itself and more of the arrogance that seems to be guiding the decision. Because hubris has a nasty habit of not staying in one place forever. Fortnite on PS4 is an example. This issue doesn't/didn’t only include cross-console play but also the locking of Epic accounts on their system (7).
What's important—and also somewhat depressing—is this topic isn't of earth-shattering infamy. Even I knew this before typing. I've expanded my thoughts on the topic just as a send-off from this previous week's top article (8). Even if minor, their stance is looking more archaic as more of the industry harps on it (9), and the reasoning utilized to support said decision mirrors the same sneering attitude that *enter your most hated game publisher here* has employed before. When you see others criticizing such actions consider this, whataboutism may not be the best way to approach this going forward.