Sony Caves: The PS4 Will Soon Begin Supporting Cross-Console Play

from the advertising-works dept

Back in June, we talked about a fun little bit of trolling that Xbox and Nintendo teamed up for at the expense of Sony and its PlayStation 4. At issue was Sony’s longstanding stance against inter-console play for multiplayer games that would otherwise allow for it, whereas Xbox and Nintendo players all over the world were happily playing MineCraft and Fortnite against one another. The end result of Sony’s stance has been both a decent level of frustration by gamers that expect modernity in their console’s features, and several YouTube videos and Twitter exchanges between Xbox and Nintendo highlighting that their own consoles had inter-console functionality. In that post, we said it was an open suggestion whether or not this public ribbing would change Sony’s stance on the subject.

Narrator: it changed Sony’s stance on the subject.

After what it calls “a thorough analysis of the business mechanics required,” Sony announced on Wednesday the first crack in the PlayStation Network’s walled garden approach to cross-console functionality. Starting today, Fortnite on the PS4 will allow for “cross-platform gameplay, progression, and commerce” with versions on the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One (in addition to the Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac platforms where such support was already integrated).

By all accounts, the thorough analysis mostly consisted of high level executives sitting around a table, asking one another if the Playstation should finally support inter-console play, and then sort of staring blankly at one another for days on end until one of them quietly muttered, “Yes?” And this isn’t the account of pissed off gamers without an understanding of how this works on the backend. Rather, publishers and developers have basically been screaming at Sony about this for several years now.

Sony has kept the PlayStation Network stubbornly closed off from other consoles’ online platforms, despite complaints from multiple game developers that Sony’s policy was the only thing stopping them from adding such support to their games.

Things started coming to a head earlier this year, when Fortnite players found that merely linking their game accounts to the PS4 version of the game locked them out from using that same account on the Nintendo Switch version. More recently, Bethesda issued what it called a “non-negotiable” demand that any pending console version of its Elder Scrolls Legends card game must have full cross-console support.

So, while Sony can’t credibly take credit for listening to fans, it can be said to have happened indirectly, with developers being the ones wanting to bring these features to their customers, and then pushing and threatening Sony over it. Now, of course, Sony will want platitudes for giving its customers what they’ve wanted for two or so years, but it likely won’t get them.

By stubbornly choosing protectionism in the form of a walled garden, Sony has made even its eventual good moves come without reward.

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Companies: sony

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Comments on “Sony Caves: The PS4 Will Soon Begin Supporting Cross-Console Play”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Yes. But, general consumers don’t know about that, and if they do they don’t care that something happened with CDs when they want to play on a console. Bringing that up every time they’re mentioned is not going to change corporate strategy.

The correct strategy is the one that’s looks to be working here – make it clear that they have real competition, and they need to start giving customers what they want if they want to keep them.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Is this the same SONY that bricked thousands of computers with their root kits

Bricked? Not that I know of. Installed rootkits and spyware and opened them up to various other kinds of malware, though.

and didn’t get preosecuted or recompense consumers?

Prosecuted, no, but they were sued (including by the State of Texas) and settled out of court. They did recompense consumers, though as usual in class action suits most of the money went to the lawyers.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There was a firmware update Sony sent to PS3s that removed the as advertised feature of being able to load alternate operating systems, this pissed off a lot of people.

Then there was the rootkit which came, no extra charge, via CD that rooted the machine but afaik the machine still worked.

There are many more Sony horror stories.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Well, apart from Nintendo first-party games, console exclusives aren’t as common as they used to be”

Given that Sony are currently riding high on Spiderman, and have built the PS4’s base on things like the Uncharted series and God Of War, among many others, it’s still very notable that they have been convinced to join cross-play despite being the long sole hold-out.

Also, these should be things that are unrelated. If a person happens to prefer the Forza games to Gran Turismo, that shouldn’t mean that they’re segregated away from their FIFA friends when they could be playing cross-platform. Letting those guys play football together doesn’t affect exclusivity of the driving games.

Thad (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

or Gameboy as long as that’s still supported.

I’m…assuming you mean 3DS?

The Game Boy family was discontinued in 2010 (with the last Game Boy Advance game having been released in 2008), and none of them ever had network connectivity. (There was a wireless adapter for the GBA, but very few games supported it, and it could only connect to other GBAs at close range; it wasn’t wifi.)

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right – but, this kind of negative attitude is going to be more of a hinderance than a help going forward. The takeaway here should be that publishers are finally looking at things other than restrictive walled gardens may not be the way they try together and keep customers going forward, not to complain that the walled gardens haven’t been removed from everything on day one.

It’s early days yet, but once the cat is out of the bag and large publishers are not shy to demand that the likes of Sony play ball with what their users actually want, this is going to be a good thing. While the games people actually want to play are coming from 3rd party developers who are happy to demand they play ball rather than just allow them to be bought out and restricted, this should be a good thing.

Anonymous Coward says: share...shoe on other foot...

Nintendo and Microsoft, most likely, only support cross console play because they are not the leaders in console sales currently. If the shoe were on the other foot, and Microsoft or Nintendo were currently leading console sales, they would probably be just as likely to resist console cross play. They don’t care about us; they care about them $$$ tho.

I’ve been gaming since the Atari 2600 and currently have a Switch and a PS4 (my first Playstation), so don’t judge me.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: share...shoe on other foot...

Yes, but this not only increases choice, but likely also represents the thin end of the wedge to some degree. Before this announcement, a gamer had to choose whether to pick up Forza Horizon 4 today or play against his PS4 owning friends on Fortnite. He could not do both without owning 2 consoles, 2 online subscriptions, etc.

Now, he can do both from the Xbox One. Microsoft had already decided that this was worth the lack of a walled garden, now Sony have done as well. It benefits the gamer massively, even if the ideal situation of Forza being on both platforms isn’t here yet

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 share...shoe on other foot...

OS as a service coupled with the corporate desired mandatory internet connection and you have a really crappy experience regardless of the game qualities. This is where MS is headed, apparently. It would be nice if game publishers would port to alternative OSs.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 share...shoe on other foot...

What I hear you saying is that because you don’t like where you think Microsoft is going with it’s OS, that’s why it’s not a good thing that they are the leader in PC gaming platforms? Not based on the actual experience itself?

OS as a service coupled with the corporate desired mandatory internet connection and you have a really crappy experience regardless of the game qualities.

Sorry but not even Windows 10 works like this. Windows is not a service and it does not require an internet connection. And the experience of most gamers on Windows is pretty positive. There is a vocal minority who can’t stand Windows but they are just that, the minority.

This is where MS is headed, apparently.

We can spar back and forth on whether Microsoft will ever actually pull the trigger on making it online mandatory and "as a service" in the future but as of today, it does not work like that. And today, they are the leader in PC gaming platforms. Partially because of their ubiquitousness. Which brings us to your next statement:

It would be nice if game publishers would port to alternative OSs.

Devs make games for the most used PC platform, and some do port their games. However, Apple and Linux can’t touch Microsoft’s OS market share, so why make games for them? And Apple and Linux can both dual boot and run Windows VMs. So even if you have an Apple OS or Linux OS, you can still play Windows games. The reverse is not always true.

The fact of the matter is, Windows is the BEST platform for gaming in the current OS market. If any of the other players want to change that they are welcome to, but Apple and Linux really aren’t interested in that, and haven’t been for years. But just because you don’t like where Microsoft is headed, doesn’t make it a bad thing that they are the leader in PC gaming platforms. It just means they are doing it better than anyone else.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It was, especially before public outcry got them to remove the “you’ll lose access to everything you ever “bought” if your console doesn’t report back regularly, even if it’s a single player game on physical media” rubbish that sent many people over to PS4 instead.

But, there’s multiple things involved here, some of which is DRM, some is just normal compatibility issues between different hardware and OS infrastructures and some just a case of getting these companies to play nice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Despite the title of this page, there was no “PS4” problem. The PS4 does not have or lack support for cross-platform play, and even Sony won’t have to “support” it—they will merely stop blocking it by policy. (Cross-platform play had already happened on the PS4 “by accident,” then Sony made the developer remove it.)

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