So Rocket League and Minecraft now make 2 games that Sony has blocked crossplatform play:
Sony defends decision to block PS4 cross-play with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch
"We've got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base."
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?
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.
Rocket League dev: PS4 cross-platform play is done, Sony just needs to say yes
“Right now it’s just a political barrier”
Developer Psyonix is hoping to get the game running at 60 fps in both the Switch’s docked and undocked mode, running at 720p. The performance of the game, the developer argues, is more important than pure visual fidelity.
They also want every player on every platform to be able to play against each other. And right now the only company keeping that from happening is Sony. So what’s holding it up?
“The honest answer is PlayStation has not yet granted us permission,” Jeremy Dunham, VP of publishing at Psyonix, told Polygon. “We are hopeful that being able to play cross network is still something we can go for, we think we’ve been big champions of this for the last two years trying to get people behind the idea ... we believe it’s the future of the industry, and we’re hopeful that maybe the community and the media can actually help get around the idea of pushing it forward and doing what we can to make it reality. It’s our dream.”
They’re trying to make it as easy on players and the platform holders as possible. “We run all the servers,” Dunham stated. “The way that it works is we connect everyone through our own system, we handle everything ourselves.” So far Microsoft had the highest and “most complex” requirements for security, so meeting those barriers made it easier to deal with the requirements of the other platforms. The hard work has been done.
So why would Sony tell them no?
“I wish I had the answer to that,” Dunham said. “The only thing that we know is that we can’t do it yet. I can tell you this: From Psyonix, we would do whatever we would need to do to make it possible to be cross-network play with all the other platforms and PlayStation 4. They just need to tell us what that is.”
He’s hoping the PlayStation community is loud enough about wanting this to happen that Sony decides to let it happen. Cross-platform play, including the PlayStation 4, could happen today if Sony told them they could do it.
“It’s literally something we could do with a push of a button, metaphorically,” Dunham told Polygon. “In reality it’s a web page with a checkbox on it. All we have to do is check that box and it would be up and running in less than an hour all over the world. That’s all we need to do.”
It would be a great thing for Rocket League, since the game continues to grow and more players means a bigger community and better competition. Multiplayer games would fill up even quicker. Players would be brought together instead of being kept apart. Microsoft and Nintendo are comfortable with it, but Sony is not.
“Technically it’s possible,” Dunham said. “There are no technical limitations. Right now it’s just a political barrier we need to help figure out how to crack.”