Lately, Sony has been feeling the heat as fans demand that the PS4 platform holder should enable cross-platform play with Xbox One. Sony has refused to budge despite the pressure, which has only increased after Epic Games accidentally enabled Fortnite crossplay.
So as fans continue to call on the company to change its stance and as Sony continues to discuss the situation with Microsoft, could this be enough to make crossplay a reality? And what are the benefits of crossplay happening?
From Destiny 2 to Battlefield 1 and from Friday the 13th: The Game to Overwatch, some of the biggest games right now are best enjoyed with friends. But a lack of cross-platform play between PS4 and Xbox One means that anyone who has a friend on another system is out of luck.
It means that entire friend groups are split up, unable to take on Raids, move payloads or fend off Jason Voorhees together. It’s unfair that players should miss out on the multiplayer fun.
A multiplayer game can only survive for as long as it has people playing it and crossplay only increases a game’s longevity. Even if players on one console are busy playing the exclusive title du jour, a game can still continue on that platform if its players can play with and against those on the other console.
The greater the number of players in a game, the greater the level of competition. Cross-platform play between PS4 and Xbox One should allow players to go head to head with people on the same skill level as them.
This means no more cannon fodder as players are forced to go against those significantly poorer at the game than they are, or thundering defeats as better teams absolutely destroy weaker opponents.
In addition to the better competition, a larger playerbase should also result in faster matchmaking. In games like Overwatch, those in the Competitive queue can often find themselves having to wait it out as the game finds players on a level playing field. And this only gets worse the higher the player’s rating.
With more players to be matchmade with, it should mean that the game has an easier time finding people to stick players in games with.
If a game can make matches in seconds, if the competition is fierce, and groups of friends can play together, it means that everyone is bound to spend more time playing these connected multiplayer games.
This can only mean good things for game developers and publishers as players will be encouraged to spend more money on these games as well, whether that’s on premium DLC or optional cosmetics. As Sony and Microsoft take a cut of digital purchases too, the PS4 and Xbox One platform holders reap the benefits too.
Being unable to play a game with friends on a different console is massively disappointing. But this disappointment helps to sell consoles as those who are desperate to play the latest shooter with their pals may just buy the other console too.
Peer pressure also impacts those who have yet to buy either console. ‘Where are my most of my friends playing?’ can be as important a factor as price and the exclusive games.
For those who do already own both a PS4 and an Xbox One, the deciding factor for which version of a multi-platform game they are going to get usually comes down to their friends. With crossplay enabled, they would be able to buy that multi-platform game on either system, without fear of not having anyone to play it with.
With crossplay enabled, they would be able to buy that multi-platform game on either system, without fear of not having anyone to play it with. It means that the other platform holder misses out on a cut of any in-game purchases or the entry fee, if it’s bene purchased digitally.
As mentioned, one of the primary benefits of cross-platform play is that it increases the longevity of multiplayer games. But if a game was to run out of players and die off on either PS4 or Xbox One then the opposing system stands to benefit.
Die-hard fans who desperately love a game and are interested in wringing more fun out of it may well buy the opposing platform just to keep on playing. Reports and complaints from fans about a game’s dwindling playerbase could encourage prospective buyers to steer clear too, for fear of it happening to a game that they love too.
The PS4 and the Xbox One are already embattled in a bitter war as players of either platform insist that their console of choice is much better. With cross-platform play, these needless comparisons will only increase.
Players are prime to compare everything from the feel of the controllers to the power of the hardware, and the skill level required to succeed at a particular game on a particular system. These kind of arguments are never healthy and risk turning people away from a game, rather than welcoming them.
In a recent Game Rant article on PS4 and Xbox One cross-platform play, the point was raised that Sony would be better off working on crossplay with PC or Nintendo Switch, as these are not direct competitors.
Sony may argue that enabling cross-platform play only aids its direct competitor as Microsoft would look like the victorious hero for securing the feature. Moreover, as more people own a PS4, it’s the Xbox One that would benefit as it’s more likely that multi-platform games are already being played on PS4. If friend groups are fragmented then it’s probably because the majority of the friend group owns a PS4, forcing the fewer Xbox One owners to buy a Sony console and not the other way round.
At this point, it’s unclear whether Sony will stick to its anti-crossplay viewpoint forever, or whether the company will eventually give fans what they want. But what is clear is that there’s a strong case for either side, and Sony will surely take all of this into account when making any future PS4 and Xbox One crossplay decisions.