It wouldn’t be far from the truth to state that the dream of every gamer is to simply have the ability to play any game they want on any platform. Why would anyone want to sit and worry over compatibility and ecosystems?
When it comes to gaming, it’s easy to bash Microsoft for many things. The ridiculous pricing for PC games as part of Microsoft’s Play Anywhere platform (Over Rs 7,000 for Forza on PC?), the painful and pointless Games for Windows Live (which, thankfully, died), Windows Store restrictions and the complete lack of comparable AAA titles on the Xbox One.
The one good thing that Microsoft is championing, however, is cross-play. With cross-play, Microsoft is aiming to bridge the gap between platforms (PC or console, it doesn’t matter). The company’s most recent announcement stated that the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One will support cross-platform play for Minecraft.
The other big gaming platform, the Sony PlayStation, has been very quiet about cross-play. In an interview with Gamespot during E3 2017, Microsoft’s Dave McCarthy praised Nintendo’s willingness to participate in cross-play, but refused to comment on Microsoft’s talks with Sony, which were ongoing at the time.
At Gamecom 2017, the head of marketing for Xbox, Aaron Greenberg discussed Microsoft’s plans with Game Reactor. In the course of the interview, Greenberg mentioned that Microsoft was still talking to Sony about cross-play, notably with regard to Minecraft. Regarding Sony’s interest in the feature, he only says, “we’re hopeful that they’ll be supportive of it.”
At E3 2017, Sony did comment on why they weren’t willing to support cross-play. Sony’s Jim Ryan told Eurogamer that, “it’s a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders.” Ryan also hinted that Sony wanted full control over the experience as Sony was “responsible” for the online experience on its platform and that young children could be exposed to “external influences”.
That last certainly seems specious given that Nintendo, arguably the most family-friendly of game developers, is perfectly fine with collaborating with Microsoft. The argument also insinuates that Microsoft is less concerned about the safety of its users than Sony. It's more likely that Sony doesn't see how such support is beneficial to the company.
Whether Sony should enable cross-play is a different argument altogether. PlayStation gamers might be perfectly happy staying within the Sony ecosystem. And anyway, Microsoft appears to be pushing for cross-play on Minecraft, which is a Microsoft IP now.
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