- Microsoft and Sony directly compete in the video-game market, where the PlayStation 4 has a commanding lead over the Xbox One in hardware sales numbers.
- Since last year, Microsoft has been pushing the concept of “cross-platform” play: the ability to play games like “Minecraft,” “Fortnite,” and more with friends on PC, smartphone, and even Nintendo’s Switch.
- Sony refuses to allow games on the PlayStation 4 to work with games on Microsoft’s Xbox One and the Switch.
- Sony president Kenichiro Yoshida reaffirmed that stance in a recent interview: “On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. ‘Fortnite,’ I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief.”
“Fortnite” is the biggest game in the world, and you can play it on pretty much any device that plays games – from the PlayStation 4 to the Nintendo Switch to the Xbox One, and even on smartphones.
And, on most of those platforms, you can play the game with anyone else. Xbox One “Fortnite” players can play with Nintendo Switch, and iPhone, and PC (and vice versa).
There’s just one exception: Sony’s PlayStation 4.
Sony doesn’t allow PlayStation 4 “Fortnite” players to interact with players on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, specifically because Microsoft and Nintendo are Sony’s competition in the video game space. And it sounds like that stance isn’t going to change, despite repeated calls from PS4 owners and game creators for Sony to open its platform.
“On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play,” Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida told the Press Association in an interview last week. “‘Fortnite’, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that’s our belief.”
In the case of “Fortnite” on PlayStation 4, users are actually locked to Sony’s game console.
If you tie your “Fortnite” account to the PlayStation Network, you’re unable to use that account – and anything you’ve earned in game or, more importantly, purchased in game – anywhere else. That isn’t the case on any other platform where “Fortnite” is available.
It’s a move that sparked outrage earlier this year, even spawning a hashtag: #BlameSony.
And PlayStation 4 owners weren’t the only ones upset – major game makers and publishers have repeatedly, openly criticised Sony’s decision to silo the PlayStation 4 multiplayer experience from competing platforms.
“We cannot have a game that works one way across everywhere else except for on this one thing,” Pete Hines, a Bethesda Game Studios senior vice president, said in a recent interview with Game Informer regarding the upcoming launch of “The Elder Scrolls: Legends” on game consoles.
“The Elder Scrolls: Legends” is a competitive card game, similar to Blizzard’s “Hearthstone,” that’s the same across all platforms, visually and gameplay-wise, whether you’re playing it on an iPhone or a PC. The game is turn-based, so it doesn’t require precise, reaction-based controls.
In so many words: There’s no technical reason it couldn’t work across competing platforms like the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.
But it sounds like Sony isn’t budging. “We decide based on what is the best user experience,” Yoshida said. “That is our way of thinking for cross-platform.”
In the case of “The Elder Scrolls: Legends,” Sony’s thinking may interfere with the PlayStation 4 getting the game at all. “It is our intention in order for the game to come out, it has to be those things on any system,” Hines said.
In other words: If Sony doesn’t allow cross-play for this game, Bethesda won’t publish it on the PlayStation 4. And that doesn’t sound like a great user experience.
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