Sony’s stance on cross-network play has received a fair bit of backlash as of late, especially recently when players discovered that Epic Games accounts previously linked to PSN accounts could not access Fortnite on Nintendo Switch.
This isn’t the first time Sony has come under fire either, previously Psyonix revealed that cross-network play for Rocket League was ready to go, but they were waiting for the go-ahead from Sony to make it happen. Microsoft on the other hand have been pretty open, bringing cross-play to various titles including Minecraft, Rocket League, and Fortnite.
On paper, cross-network play makes a lot of sense as players can play their favourite games with all of their friends regardless of platform. They can also spread progress across platforms too, which is perfect for games on the Nintendo Switch, for example.
Sony’s stance on all of this however boils down to one thing: Business. While their previous statements have mentioned keeping their player base safe from players from networks they cannot control, it’s come to light recently that the company seems to be focusing more on profit margins than actual players themselves.
In a recent Tweet from ex-Sony developer John Smedley, this statement couldn’t be more accurate.
“When I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money,” Smedley said in a now deleted Tweet. “They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. Simple as that. Dumb reason, but there it is.”
Simply put, Sony isn’t a fan of players purchasing something, say in-game cosmetics such as skins or loot boxes, on one platform and using it on PlayStation. This of course is something games such as Rocket League, Fortnite, and even Minecraft, offer.
This focus on business is echoed Karol Severin, lead analyst at MIDiA Research, who wrote over at MCVUK that while Sony is dominating the console market at the moment, but adoption has plateaued somewhat, so rather than looking ahead at future console sales, they’re now focusing on keeping that player base parting ways with their cash.
“The truth is that PS is not building a walled garden because it wants to aggravate gamers, but simply because it has incomparably less to gain from cross-platform than its main rival,” Severin wrote adding that Xbox has much more to gain due to a smaller install base.
From a business perspective, this all makes absolute sense. This walled garden keeps players on the platform the adopted rather than looking at greener pastures. That being said I personally find it difficult to see how Sony would lose out on this, especially if the worry is over a couple dollars spent on in-game cosmetics.
I feel that the pressure will truly be on Sony if and when more multiplayer games, previously on other platforms, find their way on the Nintendo Switch, and this is the big problem. Many are seeing the Switch not only as a fantastic platform, but as a secondary device to play games they love on the go. If players continue to be soured and hurt by the lack of cross-network play, there’s only so long Sony can cling onto offering big first-party titles.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you want to see cross-network play, or are you happy with the way things are?