Sony has defended its decision to block cross-play between PS4 and Xbox One after coming under fire from gamers this week.
During its E3 2017 media briefing, Microsoft announced that cross-platform play is coming to Minecraft, one of the biggest games in the world. It means Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, mobile and VR Minecraft players can all play together.
And today, Nintendo announced Rocket League, another of the world's biggest games, is coming to Nintendo Switch, and developer Psyonix confirmed cross-platform play between Xbox One, Switch and Steam.
In both cases, PS4 was absent from the list of consoles available for cross-play. So what's up?
Microsoft previously talked about the possibility of cross-network play, and said the ball was in Sony's court to allow it. And, certainly, going by this tweet from Minecraft spokesperson Aubrey Norris, the desire was there to get PlayStation on board:
We would love to have PlayStation players along with the unified Minecraft, hope that we can. https://t.co/hRGPG8Aj8a— Aubrey Norris đĽ´ (@Chupacaubrey) June 11, 2017
Today I put this issue to PlayStation global sales and marketing head Jim Ryan to get an answer. The upshot is Sony's not keen on cross-play, and it doesn't look like it will change its mind any time soon.
The exchange is below.
Minecraft works cross-platform between Switch, Xbox and PC. Today, Rocket League was announced as working cross-platform between Switch, Xbox and PC. Both don't work cross-platform with PlayStation. Now, is this Sony not playing ball? What is actually going on here?
Jim Ryan: It's certainly not a profound philosophical stance we have against this. We've done it in the past. We're always open to conversations with any developer or publisher who wants to talk about it. Unfortunately it's a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I'm not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance. And I can see your eyes rolling.
Well, you must see that PlayStation owners are upset. They want to play with Switch owners, PC owners and Xbox One owners for these two big and important games, and they don't have an explanation for why. That's what I'm getting at, really.
Jim Ryan: Yeah. We've got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft - the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it's all ages but it's also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it's something we have to think about very carefully.
It doesn't seem to be a problem for Nintendo, perhaps the most mindful video game company of the protection of children.
Jim Ryan: Yeah, that's true. Everybody has to take their own decisions. We'll do that. Like I say, we have no philosophical stance against cross-play at all.
Is this a done deal? Or are you leaving the door open, perhaps?
Jim Ryan: I don't think anything is ever a done deal. Anybody who is dogmatic in that manner is typically a fool. That said, to my knowledge, there is no live conversation ongoing at the moment.
So there you have it. If you're playing Minecraft or Rocket League or any other game on PS4, don't expect to play with Nintendo Switch or Xbox One owners.