So, the whole Cross-Play mess is going on. You don’t have to look far to see headlines such as “Is bad Sony back” or any other hyperbolic statements, but is Sony any worse than any other games company for any of this mischief? I’d say nope, they are doing the same thing everyone else did, they picked an awful time to do it.
If there is one company, that before the last couple of months, was synonymous with doing their own thing, not playing well with others, and being a closed system, that company was Nintendo. Famously, you bought a Nintendo console to play Nintendo games, for a long time. There was always an expectation that they didn’t fight, or care, about their competition, they did their own thing. This has led to moments such as the Wii and the Switch but also moments as the Wii U, so you win some and you lose some.
Then there is a company, that had an online game not release on their console because they weren’t willing to incorporate cross-play. No, this one isn’t Sony either, but a little old tale of Final Fantasy XIV being released on the PS4 and PC to critical appraise… after its first bungled launch. At the time, the game makers advised the game wouldn’t come to Xbox because Microsoft wasn’t willing to allow cross play, and they didn’t want any split in their audience. Word got around, but it never eventuated into that big of a deal.
So, bring on the PS4, where Sony is doing gangbusters well. Massively outstripping its opponents in sales and retaining a lot of loyalty thanks to an excellent series of exclusive games, and plenty more to come – not long until Spiderman people. Like their opponents they have denied cross play outside of their current arrangement with PC. No different to the others, yet “Bad Sony is Back”. Why is this getting blown so big?
The short answer is because of timing, and it’s as simple as that.
When Microsoft did it, people weren’t any where near as readily vocal or angry, and more importantly online games weren’t what they are now. “Games as a Service” was still a horrifying future buzzword we hadn’t heard yet, and while there was plenty of multiplayer games on console, they didn’t have the necessity they seem to have now, but more importantly Fortnite didn’t exist yet.
When Sony said no to Minecraft cross-play, it was revealed you would need a Microsoft account on your PS4 for it to work, so the world understood. Fortnite on the other hand has become a behemoth of a game, and it’s everywhere, including our phones…well not mine yet. The ability to play with anyone and everyone is a big draw for fans, and what’s the one system locked away from so many friends and family members, PlayStation 4.
Now Sony has done themselves no favours by giving some weak answers that don’t quite stack up, but the whole kerfuffle where your Epic account is locked out from any other systems if you have ever used it for Fortnite on PS4, is embarrassing
But despite these messes, I can’t help but feel sorry for Sony. Sure, they could allow cross-play and we can all move on, but when we have shaken our heads and laughed at Nintendo in the past and Microsoft hardly got a slap on the wrist for the Final Fantasy XIV mess.
Sony isn’t any more of a monster than all their competition, they picked a bad time to be the only competition.