Why Gamers Want More Freedom from Sony
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Sony has been fielding complaints and, supposedly, evaluating its stance when it comes to the cross-platform play of multiplayer consoles. Basically, the company was trying to decide if it wanted to play nice with other services, so that their gamers could play with other gamers. The company has now formed an argument as to why cross-platform isn’t so much a PlayStation thing. "On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that's our belief,” said Sony’s CEO, Kenichiro Yoshida.

Being that Sony’s primary goal is to make money, it presumably has a reason for its cross-platform stance. Maybe it has research supporting it. But gamers don’t like it and it would seem that stockholders are well aware; according to a video from Fox News, Sony’s stock fell shortly after the statement.

Maybe the company was trying to appear confident–flex on the competition, as it were. But the statement displays anything but confidence, because it doesn’t justify its belief that Fortnite, a game that is a virtually identical experience from platform to platform, is somehow better on PlayStation 4. Without that data, the whole statement is suspect to me. What is the company's motive?

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Currently, it can be difficult for a person to switch platforms. A significant portion of gamers play online and, presumably, they do this with their friends. Organizing a mass migration of your friend group seems like a nightmare, given that consoles are expensive, brand loyalty is a thing, and everyone has different tastes. So, to play with friends, there is a degree of compromise that gamers must accept. With cross-platform enabled for more games, gamers could more easily play with their friends. It seems like the pro-gamer stance.

Personally, I don’t play Fortnite on the PlayStation 4. I have a PlayStation 4. I love my PlayStation 4. But I don’t play Fortnite on it, because my friends largely play on other platforms. Even the PlayStation 4 players generally have a second option, so we’ve just found it easier to skip the PlayStation 4 experience. It’s a shame though, because I know that not everybody has that luxury and there are a lot of gamers bound to that system. I imagine Sony’s refusal can only lead to frustration for people who are just trying to play with one another. Most of the gaming world is out here having fun, and we’re just wondering if Sony will let its fans come out to play with us.

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That move would be wonderful–a temporary cease fire in the console wars where everybody can focus on the actual act of gaming instead of the banner they fly. I mean, sure, it’s an online shooter, so it won’t be all nice and toxicity tends to prevail, but, hey, baby steps, right? I promise you Sony, this is a good thing, unless your magic money math suggests otherwise. And if that’s the case, you do you and, if you get around to it, kindly explain how this decision is somehow in the best interest of your players.

And it’s not as though this is just an issue with Fortnite. Other gigantic games, like Minecraft and Rocket League, face the same restrictions when it comes to Sony vs the world. These are games with large communities, and it seems strange to keep them separated. Microsoft Executive, Mike Ybarra, believes Sony, “...isn’t listening to gamers,” and then said that “We run Windows and Console. Larger gaming audience who wants to play together. Gaming is diverse, if you only serve to bring joy to part of an audience then you are behind in many, many ways."

I would be hard pressed to disagree with Ybarra’s rhetoric. But I would then ask him if he could go back and look at the conversations Microsoft had with Naoki Yoshida when he was requesting that they meet his condition to allow cross-platform play on an Xbox One version of Final Fantasy XIV. Yoshida also requests Nintendo meet the same condition if they want a version of the game on their platform. It’s nice that everyone except Sony seems to be playing together, but if they want to hold the moral high ground from here on out, or claim that they are pro-gamer, then they should try to be clear about why they refuse cross-platform play on certain titles. This lack of a proper explanation is what Sony’s statement ultimately fails to do.

Benjamin Maltbie
Benjamin Maltbie

Contributing Writer
Date: 09/19/2018

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