Speaking to Eurogamer, Jim Ryan defended Sony’s policies over cross-network play that allow for PlayStation and PC games to interact – as in Final Fantasy XIV and Street Fighter V – but seem to actively obstruct connectivity with other console networks.
A hot topic in the middle of last year when Microsoft changed their own stance on this, it’s been brought back into the foreground by two announcements at E3. Firstly, Minecraft is going as cross-platform and cross-network as possible, uniting Xbox One, Switch, PC, VR and mobile so that they can all play together. Secondly, Rocket League is coming to Switch, and will tap into the cross-network play between Xbox One and PC, with PS4 and PC cross-network play cordoned off to one side.
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.
That’s fair enough. Business is business, and when Microsoft were market leaders, they had no inclination to open up their gates to outsiders. However, when pressed on the fact that gamers would like to see this, Ryan’s excuse was much weaker.
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.
As Eurogamer were quick to point out, this is a stance that doesn’t really tally when you consider that even Nintendo are actively engaging in this more open networking policy. As far as I’m aware, you can go and build monumental swastikas and penises in Minecraft on any platform, if you so desire, just as MMOs will often have an open chat channel and this can be a subject of abuse. PC gamers can quite happily text chat in Rocket League, for example.
The responsibility in that instance falls to the game developer to put in place satisfactory systems and policies to police objectionable material. Funnily, those systems and policies are already in place to deal with such material within PlayStation Network anyway.
On the plus side, the pressure is building, and when asked if these decisions were final, Ryan replied:
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.
My personal call to Psyonix, Microsoft/Mojang, Bandai Namco, Ubisoft, and every developer, both big and small, please keep putting requests in and pushing Sony to open the gates on this matter.