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Opinion

Fortnite Battle Royale And Why Sony's Stance On Cross-Network Play Sucks For Gamers

Tear down this wall.

The topic of cross-platform play was thrust into the spotlight once again this past weekend thanks to Epic Games’ Fortnite. A “configuration issue” on the developer’s side meant that Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players were cropping up in the same Battle Royale sessions and even able to specifically team up. The fact that Xbox gamertags allow spaces while PlayStation Network IDs do not led users to investigate further until it was finally confirmed.

Having spent a couple hours in Fortnite’s Battle Royale, I honestly didn’t notice this strange phenomenon. All I knew was that, for a pre-release mode in an early access game, finding 100 players to drop into a match took next to no time at all.

Epic’s supposed accident has stirred up the debate once again. What’s perhaps most important here is that they make it sound trivial, as if someone at Epic Games HQ simply flipped a switch or forgot to uncheck a box. Previously, I had thought cross-network play would require meticulously planning and reworks when it comes to server tech and creating a forbidden gateway between Xbox Live and PSN. Yet here it was, fully operational with both tribes of gamers united for a weekend-long affair.

It didn’t take long for people to latch onto the story, reaching out to Fortnite devs and execs/reps from both Sony and Microsoft. The most interesting response came from Xbox frontman Phil Spencer who, when asked what he thought about the joined Fortnite servers said, “I would have liked to see them leave it on”.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft has wanted to play ball, only for Sony to turn them down. Rocket League currently allows cross-platform play between PC and consoles, independently between PC and Xbox One or PC and PS4, developer Psyonix having mentioned how easy it would be to connect the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 communities.

Then, of course, there was Minecraft, where its own Better Together patch released earlier this week, letting Xbox One, PC, Mobile and VR players group up – the Switch update has been delayed for the time being. Sony are sitting this party out, despite stating that they’re all in favour of cross-platform integration. Jim Ryan pointed to the need to police the content allowed on their platform for younger eyes, while there will also have been objections to needing a Xbox Live log in to participate.

To me, the actual answer behind this cross-play conundrum is straightforward though Sony won’t come out and say it themselves. Since the start of the current console cycle, the PlayStation 4 has been number one with no signs of letting up. Sony’s install base is big enough as it is, without needing to join hands with its leading competitor and sing kumbaya around the campfire. In other words, cross-play doesn’t mean as much to Sony as it does to Microsoft right now.

However, this sucks for both gamers and developers alike. By closing the gates, Sony is effectively putting a cap on the maximum playerbase for various online games. Even when it comes to newer releases, we’ve all sat there staring at matchmaking screens, wishing there were more players to connect with. This is perhaps a bigger issue for developers, especially with so many games having online features nowadays. Being able to group users together in a single bloc could be a huge benefit to them and create a more active community as a whole.

Conspiracy theorists will tell you Epic Games had a similar notion when it “accidentally” united House PlayStation and House Xbox. Fortnite is great fun, but it hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm and would definitely prosper from cross-platform play. Epic’s slip-up and comments such as those from Phil Spencer have only put more pressure on Sony, but it’s unlikely they’ll give in. At least not right now. The backlash isn’t quite strong enough to force their hand.

If cross-network play between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 does ever happen, it will need to be on Sony’s terms. It seems like a real no brainer, but there’s no doubt a degree of internal bureaucracy at Sony as well as a corporate culture that may not approve of potentially given their rivals a leg up.

It’s also worth considering if Microsoft were in Sony’s current market position, would they adopt the same stance?

18 Comments
  1. JR.
    Member
    Since: Apr 2013

    Is this what we have become? A generation of spoiled brats who, if they don’t get their own way, attempt to damage the image/credibility of the thing that stands in their way? If Sony don’t want to embrace cross platform play, that’s their business. No one is forcing anyone to buy a PS4, so if you don’t like their policies, buy an XB1 instead and have even less gamers (and games) to play with.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 16:31.
    • MOVE
      Member
      Since: Mar 2010

      I endorse this message.

      Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 16:35.
    • double-o-dave
      Member
      Since: Nov 2008

      +1

      Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 16:57.
    • skibadee
      Member
      Since: Oct 2009

      +1

      Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 22:44.
    • bennibop
      Member
      Since: Aug 2014

      +1 people seem to forget it is the company that is in last place kicking up the fuss. Also Sony have been doing cross play for years and actually have more cross play games than any other console.

      Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 18:58.
    • Jim Hargreaves
      Member
      Since: Nov 2009

      Spoiled brats? Bit extreme.

      I don’t see anything wrong with boosting player counts in online games and Sony generally adopting a more pro-consumer stance. It benefits gamers and developers.

      If MS were in their shoes, doing the exact same thing (which they probably would, let’s be honest) I’d be aiming my complaints at them in the same way.

      Comment posted on 24/09/2017 at 11:59.
    • sampson3121
      Member
      Since: Apr 2015

      plus when he says

      “Even when it comes to newer releases, we’ve all sat there staring at matchmaking screens, wishing there were more players to connect with.”

      I don’t think i have ever thought that playing the MP games on the PS4 except for Driveclub and that’s an exclusive.

      perhaps it happens more on the Xbox more often.

      Comment posted on 24/09/2017 at 17:09.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      Maybe, but I feel it emphasised my point.

      If Sony want to do this off their own back, fine. But they shouldn’t be shamed or guilt-tripped because a bunch of entitled gamers want the best of both worlds.

      As for being pro-consumer, how have they not fulfilled their obligation to their user base? They have more exclusives than any other platform, the best, most varied exclusives than any other platform (IMO of course), the best independent studios etc., all of which costs money. It’s one of the reasons they have the lion’s share of the market – because they invested in it. So why should they allow the competition to benefit from their hard work because the competition failed to invest in their own platforms? It’s not Sony’s responsibility to lend a hand when their competitors fail to create a desirable product of their own, under the misguided belief that we are all gamers in this together. Give me a break.

      Who does this stand to benefit the most? The people who don’t support the platform but want to leech the benefits of a huge install base? I know this doesn’t benefit Sony at all, no matter how far you reach. And making Sony out to be the ‘bad guys’ because they won’t share their hard earned success with the assholes who wouldn’t share theirs last gen, is wrong.

      People complaining that they can’t play with their friends who don’t own a PS4, well diddums. Sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes we don’t get everything we want. And sometimes we have to hear the word ‘No’.

      #sNOny

      Comment posted on 24/09/2017 at 20:37.
  2. double-o-dave
    Member
    Since: Nov 2008

    Like I said in a previous thread, if I was Sony I wouldn’t allow it…

    “I don’t blame Sony at all – After all, its business.

    10 friends – 9 have BF on PS4, 1 has an Xbox and wants BF. ‘1’ goes out and buys a PS4 & BF to play with friends & rejects his Xbox – Sony make an extra console sale.

    Lets say Sony allow cross network play – 9 have BF on PS4, 1 has an Xbox and wants BF. ‘1’ buys BF for his Xbox and plays with friends – Sony lose a potential console sale.”

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 17:02.
  3. skibadee
    Member
    Since: Oct 2009

    if I owned Sony I would do the same! I make Playstations for people to buy just that. I really have 0 interest in playing people on Xbox as well or any other console that wants to do this.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 22:47.
  4. colmshan1990
    Member
    Since: Apr 2009

    If I owned Sony, would I do the same?

    Maybe.

    That doesn’t mean they’re not still assholes.

    And an argument could be made that happy customers and a pro-gamer image are valuable in their own right, especially for generating brand loyalty.

    Comment posted on 22/09/2017 at 23:30.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      But all businesses are assholes. I’d argue that Microsoft are even bigger assholes by prentending to care about the gamers when all they care is about is all any business cares about… money. Let’s not forget that not too long ago, Sony were in the red, they had their credit rating downgraded and staff had to be laid off. It’s probably taken a massive effort to turn things around and they were lucky the PS4 was such a huge success. So why, after just getting back on their feet would Sony now choose to help the competition? And more importantly, why would we make them feel bad about not doing so? Sony’s main priority right now is to strengthen their own position in the market, not Microsoft’s or anyone else’s. I say boo hoo to anyone who bought an XB1 or a Switch who can’t find anyone online to play with. Make a more informed decision next time and don’t act out when you realise you made the wrong choice.

      Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 00:10.
      • colmshan1990
        Member
        Since: Apr 2009

        I as a PS4 gamer receive zero benefit and in fact lose out on playing with a large chunk of my real life friends because of this policy.

        I don’t care one bit about Sony or Microsoft. Why should I tie myself up in knots justifying them when they make a decision which is bad for me?

        Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 11:13.
  5. Starman
    Member
    Since: Jul 2011

    Unless you’re a Sony shareholder there’s literally no legitimate reason why you shouldn’t want this.

    More people to play against, which is always good when playerbases dwindle, and team up with your friends, irrespective of platform.

    Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 06:56.
    • leeroye
      Member
      Since: May 2012

      I cant think of any instance on any game where i have found problems connecting to other players due to “player shortages” This simply isnt an issue at all so why should any sony gamer care. Can you tell me of any games you have played with a low player count. If such a game does exist then its probably because its rubbish and no one wants to play it, or its an older game that has just had its time.

      If no one is playing a PS4 MP game then how many added players are you going to get by adding in the xbox userbase, there will be even less playing on that platform most likely.

      Everyone is making such a big deal out of this non-issue.

      Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 10:53.
      • Starman
        Member
        Since: Jul 2011

        For Honours playercount dropped on all platforms not long after launch. Battlefront and Battlefield 4 I’ll struggle to get a game in certain modes. Even if you don’t care and it’s not affected you, surely you can still see how it would benefit others. Also it wouldn’t negatively affect anyone already on PlayStation. Games sales aren’t that much more on PS4 so there will be games on it with small playercounts.

        Comment posted on 23/09/2017 at 13:18.
      • Jim Hargreaves
        Member
        Since: Nov 2009

        There are hundreds of smaller, older, or at least not as popular, multiplayer games with low server counts.

        Even if the Xbox One share of players is lower than PS4, joining the two would benefit that community and the studio that developed the game.

        Comment posted on 24/09/2017 at 11:54.
  6. Dominic Leighton
    Member
    Since: Mar 2012

    Maybe that’s a future answer. One/two years of platform exclusivity before they open the gates and enable cross network play to refresh the community/boost sales.

    Still, Sony have all the impetus, and I just don’t see them ever doing something that might give even a little leeway to Microsoft, or Nintendo.

    Comment posted on 25/09/2017 at 11:06.

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