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Why Sony doesn't want PS4 owners to play with Xbox and Nintendo Switch

This all stems from a couple of pretty big E3 2017 announcements by Microsoft and Nintendo. Minecraft, one of the biggest and most widely available games on the planet, is going cross-platform, finally unifying all the individual versions in one glorious block. Xbox, PC, mobile, Nintendo Switch, all will be able to play along together as one big happy family.

Rocket League developer, Psyonix, also announced Rocket League for Nintendo Switch. A great announcement on its own for Nintendo fans, but made even more exciting by the news that version will join the current Xbox One-PC cross-platform play family.

The notable absentee in both cases is Sony. It's not as if it can't be done, because it can. But why isn't it happening? Sony's 'defense' of the subject is pretty questionable.

PS4

It's rattled more than a few cages, and at E3 the folks at Eurogamer sat down with Sony's global sales and marketing head, Jim Ryan, to ask why PS4 players can't play with their buddies on other systems.

Jim Ryan: 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.Jim Ryan: Yeah. 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.

So apparently it's both a commercial decision and protecting the kids. Both sound pretty thin in terms of reasoning, especially considering that Nintendo has a pretty strong youth following. But beyond that, what about parents?

With my son, I control what he can and can't see, what he does and doesn't play (he loves Forza!). Sony is apparently happy to turn a blind eye to blatant under 18s playing and talking smack in Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, Battlefield 1 and other somewhat inappropriate titles for children. The whole "curated universe" thing sounds like a cop-out, frankly.

But again, the parents should be controlling that. Not Sony. After all, there are age limits to having a Sony PSN account, too:

"There are two types of Sony Online Network accounts: Master Accounts and Sub Accounts. You must be 18 years or older to create and hold a Master Account. Sub Accounts are for children from ages 7 to 17."

Xbox One X

The real best place to enjoy all your games. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Microsoft often gets a rough deal in the press and to some extent in the community over how Xbox does its business. But here's the thing. Microsoft buzzes about Xbox being the best place to play your games, whoever made them, and things like this are a solid reason to believe it. Instead of hiding from something which is a pretty momentous deal for gamers, Microsoft is actively encouraging it.

I have a PS4 and a Switch, as well as an Xbox One. I'm probably not alone there, but the point still stands. When it comes to third-party games, should it really matter which console you bought in order to play with your friends? There always needs to be a differentiator, but if a developer wants to ignore platform bias and let everyone play together, then the winner is us. The gamers.

Sony keeps saying about the PS4 that it's "for the players." Right now there are plenty of those players that are pretty miffed.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

79 Comments
  • "PlayStation curated universe" 😂
  • Sounds fun, right?! Kinda like iOS ;)
  • Well it makes sense to me, they have a point.
  • You're a fan PS boy because as the article pointed out, the account you're takes care of that because i had my children on the sub account with after limit on Xbox and I had to approve purchases, etc before they could get anything that was rate G. Just a lame excuse from Sony; cross platform is where it's at. When MS initially wanted to exclude the blue ray drive from Xbox one, they heard the communities outage and changes their plans putting the drive in it; that's what a gamer based company does, not make excuses; they did the same thing with connect too!
  • Makes sense to me also. I wouldn't want to play against players that disconnect often so ... #troll
  • That can't be controlled within the network... Not really. Xbox Live has the ability to prefer players, but that is the extent. If a player wants to disconnect, then they will. If players want to call names and say foul, annoying and silly things they can and do. You can mute them. As for Sony's excuse, I'm sure there are things in place that can protect the "children" from these things that they are already exposed to. Have you heard some of these kids? I've heard more kids saying foul things than the supposed adults Sony wants to protect them from. Now, granted, you will have a small percentage of the community that may or have preyed upon the youth within these communities. I would imagine that those perverts would shy away from such a network, because of the openness of communication between players. You would have to be stupid to do or say anything criminal om these networks.
  • Crossplay is awesome. I just hope EA will do this too with all of their sports games in the future.
  • They might. But not with PS4!
  • Somebody said here the other day Halo Wars 2 isn't cross platform between Xbox and PC (Store version), hope they change that at some point. They obviously are happy for it on 3rd party games would like to see it consistently applied to PlayAnywhere titles too
  • That would be awesome. It's hard to find a game in FIFA Ultimate Team on PC. But why stop there, make ALL of their games cross-play, that would be AWESOMER!
  • #4TheChildren
  • SONY is dead by 2025... this isolate platform will die
  • without the PS4 Sony would already be dead. They were really lucky that MS failed at E3 2013 and with the XboxOne launch.
  • Sony has a walled garden just like Apple.  
  • There is a reason why Sony has only 26 million PSN subscribers to it's 60 million ps4 sales and Microsoft manages to get 55 million XBOX live subscribers on 33 million XBOX One sales ;-)
  • That's not the number of Xbox Live 'subscribers'; it's the number of active users (Gold and Silver members), and it includes things like little Timmy playing Minecraft: Pocket Edition on his crappy tablet and Grandma Betty playing Microsoft Bingo on her computer thingy.
  • So are you saying Timmy and Betty are somehow invalid because of their age? I don't get it, gaming is universal regardless of age, so unless you're making a "filthy casual" pompous statement, your comment doesn't track.
  • At least give this guy directions to the nearest burn center.
  • No, I'm saying they're not subsribers, like 19Michael87 said. That's a very important disctinction, since only subscribers pay the monthly fee. I see many peopl e incorrectly parrot the statisitc of 'active users' as 'subscribers' when they are not the same thing.
  • The numbers Microsoft cite aren't about how many people pay to play online, it's about active engagement which is far more important for developers/publishers/shareholders to know.
    Just use the Wii as an example: It sold like hot cakes yet ended up gathering dust under most people's TVs pretty quickly.
    Install base is a good figure to go by when a format is first launched, but after awhile you want to know how many people are actually using that system.
  • Yeah you're right. But anyway, les then half of the PS4 users use PSN looks to me like a ****** adoption rate!
  • "The numbers Microsoft cite aren't about how many people pay to play online, it's about active engagement" That's literally the entire point of my post.
  • AHAHA Looks like you're mixing up all your numbers. There are around 52m active Xbox live active users on various MS systems/platforms (Win, X360, XB1,...). There are around 70m active PSN active users on various PS platforms (PS3, Vita, PS4).   There are around 26.5m PS+ users with 60m PS4 sold MS doesn't communicate much on the number of XBLive Gold members. The last time they said anything it was around 12.5m in late 2010 when they had around 40m X360 sold.   There. You're welcome...
  • I agree completely with this article, cross play is very important especially with ballooning game development costs. I know for a fact there have been a few games I've wanted to play with friends in the past but I haven't bought them because I didn't have the console to play them on, however if there was cross platform support then I would have readily spent that money. Sonny need to get off their arses, suck it up, and just agree to this, I can't think of a legitimate reason not to.
  • Because of the children!
  • The biggest takeaway from this article was the whole master and sub nomenclature for Sony accounts... Yikes.
  • I'm saying nothing!
  • You quoted Jim saying they've done it in the past. I think you should have also focused on that to point out they're hypocrites seen as they were happy to do cross-platform play with Portal 2, not to mention Final Fantasy 11/14 which are even harder to control being MMORPGs. And we all know how toxic PC players can be with their ridiculously childish "PCMASTERRACE" mentality.
  • so you guys think the Xbox One X would have enough power to run a virtual version of the PS4, like it's doing the Xbox360?  
  • No.
  • I think Sony won't let this happen.
  • I actually did wonder something similar; if the 1X would be able to emulate older generation consoles, like the PS2 or maybe PS3.  Not the current generation (PS4) though.
  • The PS2 and PS3 require more resources to emulate, since they are different architechtures. The PS4 would require less resources, since it's x86 with AMD graphics, same as Xbox1
  • you have put a wrong picture for the best place to enjoy all of your games its should show a PC
  • That's just wrong. A lot of people can't afford/don't want a gaming PC.
  • You are correct, sir. I could buy two Xbox One X consoles for the price to build one similar gaming PC.
  • PC has the biggest selection of game therefore you can enjoy all of your games and you dont even need something amazing budget build exist for a reason and can work on 1080p either 30/60fps
  • You are wrong too though. There is no "best place to play" or "real best place to play". All these are subjective...
  • Lol I bought a $1300 Surface Book so that I could have a sleek, comfortable and usable computer for writing notes in class without lugging around a giant ugly gaming laptop. I game at home casually when I'm not on campus working on homework or studying. I don't have the desire or need for a $1500+ gaming laptop or desktop but if I can get a console with the same power of one for $500 that also is a 4K blueray player and emulates all of my old Xbox games, it's exactly what I want to buy.
  • https://www.reddit.com/r/pcmasterrace/comments/6h96rt/yes_the_xbox_one_x...
  • I guess they don't want their players to create and sync an Xbox Live account with their PSN as it's needed for Minecraft (crossplay enabled versions) regardless of the platform you choose. 
  • What's their excuse for Rocket League, then?
  • They hate fun?
  • Basically he said use our platform use our platform use our platform.
  • Sony makes it sound like it is all about protecting kids from anyone online. I get that, but Nintendo is all in, and I'd say they target kids more than anything. As a parent, I can say that the parent is ultimately responsible. My son plays Minecraft. He's yet to go on-line, but if he did, I would assure that he would only be able to play with his known/neighborhood friends. His neighborhood friends all play Minecraft too, but they may play on different platforms. Cross-platform would allow him to play with friends regardless of platform; but only with his known friends and that is my responsibility. Edit: Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure that I set up his account so that he can only communicate with "friends" on Xbox, which currently is only me. Also, if I remember right, I have to approve all his "Xbox Friends" first before he can start to play / communicate with them. I don't know how much safer a console could be.
  • I agree with you on this.  I myself keep an eye on my daughter's online activity.  I get weekly updates on what she does and any pending friend requests I have to approve.  It's up to the parents to keep their kids in check.  MS, Sony and Nintendo bring the platforms to us, and we have to know how to navigate through it not just for ourselves, but for our children as well.
  • Sony, For the Players* *as long as what they want is exactly what Sony tells them they want and doesn't include things like EA Access, cross-platform gaming, changing their usernames, not being charged to play games they already own, or not getting hacked.
  • I would have more respect if they were honest about it. Instead Sony chooses to make a fool of themselves, giving far-sought ridiculous explanations. Let the marketeers do the talking and you hear nothing but stupid ****. Can't take them seriously ...
  • Microsoft gave exactly the same reasoning for why they require all players to login via Xbox Live to play Minecraft via cross play (i.e. Microsoft want to control the online experience for their customers - regardless of platform). Then Phil Spencer had the gall to call out Sony for saying the exact same thing.
  • I think Sony views crossplay as something that would help Microsoft more than it would Sony. I doubt Sony would ever allow it.
  • That's exactly why they're doing this. As the market leader Sony benefits from people having to buy a PS4 to play with the majority of their friends. If a person with an Xbox can suddenly play with their Playstation friends they have no reason to switch.
  • Personally I'd just stop playing with those friends. Or find new friends. Both are cheaper than buying a new console!
  • Sony's position is the classic one for the market leader -- they only see downside to "helping" make competing systems less obscure by supporting cross-play on their market-leading console. By taking this stance, they hope to steer someone on the fence to buy the PS4, because that's what their friend plays (which is probably true, because Sony has the leading position in terms of units sold). Of course, their choice here is exactly the kind of resulting arrogance that is likely to contribute to their losing that market leadership position. It's a reasonable business strategy, but has high risk to backfire, encourage customer backlash, bad press, and sales of competing systems. I don't know the numbers, but I doubt Sony has a significantly dominant position compared with Xbox + Nintendo + PC gamers who play the same games. Unless its online players significantly outnumber all of those other players, it's a highly flawed strategy.
  • The Minecraft situation itself is worth highlighting. One of the most played games on the planet. This effectively says "don't play it on PlayStation anymore." Sure it's only two (massively popular) games right now, but what happens if/when more developers jump on this. That'll be telling.
  • Yep. It's the second-best-selling game of all time, a game with 55 million active monthly users across a variety of platforms, and what Sony just did is ensure that everyone who plays it on PS4 now has the worst version of the game. They're now isolated socially and unlikley to receive the same updates and features as everyone else. If I were a Minecraft gamer on Playstation, I'd be furious at Sony.
  • Sony have ensured that millions of Playstation owners aren't required to use an Xbox Live login to play Minecraft. If Microsoft didn't try to use this as a way to steal customers from Sony I'm sure Sony would have joined the fun.
  • Aka, "we've been dominant in this console generation and would like to keep it that way."
  • So I guess Microsoft and Nintendo game can start sporting a crossplay symbol on their game packaging. I wonder if companies will start releasing specal crossplay DLC. Like letting you pick team by console or giving console players special clothing so you can tell them apart. Like Microsoft players and us Halo skins while Nintendo players can use Mario World skins. 
  • I would not be surprised if that happened.  I don't buy physical games anymore, but if I were to walk into Gamestop, I'd see XBOX and Nintendo games with a special CrossPlay logo on it or a special CrossPlay section, I'd go for that.  And you wouldn't see any PS4 cases there as they want to stay away and become the loner of the bunch.
  • Why Sony doesn't want? Because it isn't beneficial for them.
    MS didn't want when they with the 360 because that didn't benefit them. If friends want to buy a console to play with friends they will most likely buy the best selling console because there is more of them out there. MS and Sony are businesses that seek more profits. MS wanting cross-play only benefits them. I would like to have cross-play but lets not make MS an angel because of that, because if the numbers reversed we would see Sony asking for that and MS denying.
  • You know what game I really want to go cross play? Elite: Dangerous.
  • Thanks for this article. Sony needs to get smack for this. "For the players" my hiney.
  • Sony want to be in control of the online gaming experience for their players. Microsoft wants exactly the same, except Microsoft wants to control the online experience for Sony's players (in Minecraft) too.   Microsoft require anyone playing Minecraft cross-platform to use an Xbox Live login (even on non-Microsoft platforms). And Microsoft's reasoning? Exactly the same as Sony's reasoning - they feel they should be in charge of the player's experience/safety when using their product. And who can blame Sony for not wanting Playstation players to be forced to use their main competitor's online service/login?
  • Nice complaining why Sony is not compatible with other consoles. Reason why i never changed to Xbox was that all their features were windows exclusives and a lot of years later they are on Iphone, Android and on Windows pc. Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo has never worked together on getting multiplayer working Sony only managed to do it with Portal 2 which proves its not impossible but like Cs Go which was supposed to come to consoles and be compatible never came. Now when Sony is leading way ahead on this generation console sale and Nintendo which keeps making bad decisions whit their consoles being way too outdated tries to team up with Microsoft. Xbox One is doing ok but they are way too behind in sales and next gen consoles will arrive in couple of years which is a point why Sony hasn't really tried to make Ps4,5 with their Pro console since there might be a lot of performance issues when developers either try to make great games for the "pro" versio.
    Also i dont like that you cant be friends with Nintendo or Xbox live gamers unless I use their app, ingame list or some other service. I haven't read any other games but minecraft to work with other systems and its been one year since Microsoft announced about trying to make other systems work together.
  • My favourite line in this article was the quote, " And I can see your eyes rolling."
  • PS4 is "for the players"?
    Ummm... sorry, Sony. I'm moving to Xbox. 😛
  • Come on in, we have cookies.
  • Connecting PlayStation to the dominant Minecraft platform PC/XBox would be a great move for Sony. Actually it is a no-brainer. It will strengthen their own platform. Playstation is not the platform kids prefer to play Minecraft and Minecraft being a Microsoft product it will probably never be. So better join the "enemy" and enable cross-platform-play, offering the best Minecraft experience you can.
  • For me, crossplay would get me to buy a console before any exclusive would.
  • "cough" BS "cough" it is about Sony not liking that microtransactions on a different ecosystem would carry into theirs without them getting a cut.
  • They simply want to avoid another 2011 drama.. Sony is routing around this and believes connecting to other platform result in people doing things with bad intentions. That is what they said multiple times. How can that be when Xbox, PC and Nintendo are enjoying cross-play without security risks? Sony is Flat and just refuses to play game for the gamers needs and believe the boogie man will ruin their Playstation platform completely. If anything happens, there is that cooperation between MS, Sony and Nintendo to engage these risks and hackers. So Sony.... FFS listen and give players what they want.
  • This is a typical SONY move.  Anyone remember Betamax, The MiniDisc and Super Audio CD?
  • How long until MS buys Nintendo?
  • Not a chance, Nintendo has monstrous cash reserves and even in bad times (WiiU) they managed a profit most of the time. Sony has a more tenuous position than Nintendo will have. Sony HAD to have the PS4 succeed, Nintendo can weather multiple bad launches and still be liquid.
  • Building a PC is the best thing I ever did when it comes to games.  Before, had just a PS4, and I wouldn't stand for this crap.  No matter, just use the PC then. My PS4 will collect a bit more dust.
  • Sony is utterly full of crap.
  • What a joke of an excuse. Seriously. I worked with former Sony executives on infrastructure side.  They want to horde their player base and their money.  Remember the big Sony PSN hack?  Yeah, they were told they were vulnerable; that sensitive personally identifiable information was vulnerable.  What did top level execs do?  They sat on their arses doing nothing.  Finally, when things started to move - HACK.  By then it was already too late.  Sony will eventually come around to cross platform; but not before it becomes necessary and expected by gamers and not before they've extracted what they can from their base.
  • If we roll our eyes enough times, will Sony relent?
  • While they have the right to be genuinely protective about children......what is it other than financial reasoning stopping them from allowing crossplay on M and R rated titles like FPS etc. ?