E3 2017 brought with it two of the most welcome announcements fans of online multiplayer experiences could ever get. Two of the biggest games in the world today are going to offer cross-platform play across consoles, computers, and even mobile devices in some cases. Both Minecraft and Rocket League are opening up their worlds. Minecraft will let people on Xbox Ones, Switches, Windows 10 PCs, and mobile devices play together. Rocket League will do the same with its Xbox One, Switch, and PC players.
Wait. Hold up. Where’s Sony and the PlayStation 4 in all of this? It’s a valid question, and one with an easy answer. They didn’t want to play ball. Which is horrible for absolutely everyone involved. Nobody wins when Sony decides to be selfish about cross-platform play.
This is absolutely abysmal for fans on every platform. People who have a PlayStation 4 are going to be left out. They’re the only ones who won’t have the opportunity to play Minecraft or Rocket League with anyone else. Instead, they’ll be locked in to only participating with people they already know on their own systems. Nobody likes to be left out. Especially if that means you could be missing out on great adventures and opportunities. Meanwhile, their friends on the Xbox One and Switch will be unable to interact with someone they might know with a PlayStation 4.
It will definitely hurt Sony. Think about it. If you have a PlayStation 4 and any of those other platforms, which version of the game will you buy? I would buy it for my PC or Xbox One instead. Better to know you’ll have access to this extra, important feature than miss out. That means less money in Sony’s pockets. They’re going to lose out on revenue because they’re being selfish.
Sony will also take a hit to their reputation. When speaking to Eurogamer, Jim Ryan, PlayStation’s Global Sales and Marketing Head, attempted to pull a “think of the children” excuse. More specifically, he said, “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.” Except Nintendo, arguably the most cautious company out there, went ahead and gave a big old yes to cross-platform play in Minecraft and Rocket League.
The thing is, I bet Sony would have readily approved this proposition if it got something more out of it. If Mojang and Psyonix ended up charging a fee for cross-platform play, which Sony could then have gotten a cut of, I guarantee we would have seen the PlayStation 4 versions of the games open their doors. Money talks. But, because these would be free updates for everyone to enjoy, that isn’t happening. When it sees cross-platform play, it is probably thinking people could choose another console over their own.
But it doesn’t understand that not offering cross-platform could still lead to lost sales and a bad reputation. People want to be able to play with their friends, and there is no excuse to wall off a game when every other platform is opening its doors. Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, and Google all went ahead to let Xbox One, Switch, Windows 10, iPhone, iPad, and Android Minecraft owners and Xbox One, PC, and Switch Rocket League owners play together. Blocking off the PlayStation 4 versions will only make people who own the console mad and less likely to purchase those iterations of the game.