Sony Interactive Entertainment is softening its language when it comes to cross-platform multiplayer. While the publisher has spent the last few years defending its choice to prohibit people on PlayStation from playing with their friends on Xbox or Nintendo systems, PlayStation boss Shawn Layden now claims that his team is looking into it.
In response to a question from Eurogamer reporter Robert Purchese at the Gamelab conference in Spain today, Layden gave a short statement addressing a question about whether Sony is listening to fan concerns.
“We’re hearing [the criticism],” said Layden. “We’re looking at a lot of the possibilities. You can imagine that the circumstances around [crossplay and third-party accounts] affect a lot more than just one game.”
Players are upset with the lack of crossplatform support, and many are angry that the company is blocking PlayStation 4-linked Epic accounts from working on Xbox One or Nintendo Switch. You can use the same account on Xbox One, Switch, PC, and mobile, which means your stats and in-game purchases all carry over. But Sony only lets you use your Epic account (something it does not have any ownership over) on PC and mobile.
When I asked Layden about crossplatform play and Rocket League during a conversation at the Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in 2017, he said that PlayStation 4 already has tens of millions of players. Sony gave a similar answer this year, but that statement came across as even more tone deaf during E3 2018 because millions of players does nothing for players who cannot take their Epic account to a Switch to play Fortnite on the go.
But Layden sounds like he is starting to budge on this. Or you can interpret his Gamelab answer as him considering a change in this PlayStation policy.
“I’m confident we’ll get to a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community,” he said. “While at the same time supporting our business.”
When Layden talks about protecting PlayStation’s business or how crossplay affects more than one game, he’s talking about microtransaction sales. Sony does have tens of millions of people who primarily play on PlayStation 4 even if those consumers also spend money elsewhere, but Layden wants to ensure they continue buying items like the Battle Pass through PlayStation Network. It can let PC and mobile players bring their purchases with them because those are fundamentally different experiences, but if Sony let’s someone go from PS4 to Xbox One X, that person could permanently migrate away from the PlayStation ecosystem when it comes to Fortnite spending.
But Layden and Sony are feeling the pressure from players, and we may look back on the Fortnite debacle as the moment that broke PlayStation’s self-imposed crossplatform embargo.