Gamers have dreamed of the possibility of playing online games together with friends who have different consoles pretty much since Xbox Live launched in 2002. But while Microsoft has made some in-roads there with Xbox-PC-Switch cross-play, Sony has shown little interest in playing ball, and it sounds like the home console market leader isn’t getting any closer to coming around on the feature.
But that hasn’t stopped Microsoft from trying to win its most direct rival over. “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,” Xbox executive Phil Spencer told GameStop today at the Brazil Game Show. “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…”
Before placing the ball firmly in Sony’s court and trailing off, Spencer referenced how Microsoft has managed to make cross-play work in some games with its second-biggest rival, Nintendo. This past E3, Microsoft and Nintendo announced that Minecraft owners could play with each other across Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Ditto Rocket League.
But while Fortnite had PlayStation 4-Xbox One cross-play enabled last night, it was apparently a temporary accident. So, is the dream a lost cause? Spencer deferred to Sony, saying he didn’t want to speak for the company, but he doesn’t sound too confident Sony is ever going to come around.
“I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines,” continued Spencer. “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.”
From Spencer’s viewpoint, cross-play is a feature that makes gaming undeniably better for players and so he has “a hard time thinking why we shouldn’t go do this.” Sony, however, appears to feel there is a strong business case against enabling it.
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