The console cross-play talk is a conversation we’ve been having for a long time. The last couple of years have been peppered with on-again, off-again stories about the potential for cross-play. Many developers want it, hell, even Xbox wants it. Sony is notoriously shut down on PlayStation cross-play with any platforms other than PC at this point. Cross-play is not a huge technical challenge to overcome. Epic proved that by “accidentally” enabling PS4 and Xbox One cross-play on Fortnite last year, something I’m still certain was done deliberately to show that it was possible.
At last week’s E3, more controversy ensued when Fortnite was released on the Nintendo Switch, complete with fully functional Xbox cross-play. Not only can other platforms play together, but Sony is actively blocking Epic accounts that have touched the PS4 from even being used on other consoles. Xbox has responded. Nintendo has responded. Even Sony issued a statement on the controversy that failed to placate many players.
Nintendo and Microsoft are really leaning into this cross-play partnership, releasing a co-branded trailer for Minecraft on Switch. There’s no subtlety at all here, and the trailer ends with the quote “Better together.” Clearly Microsoft and Nintendo are done talking about it, instead taking action to not just enable, but promote cross-play on applicable games.
This isn’t the first time they’ve taken low-key jabs at Sony. The Nintendo UK and Xbox UK Twitter accounts had an exchange about playing Fortnite together during E3. While none of the marketing-side interactions are aimed directly at Sony, the red and green together clearly highlights the absence of blue.
@NintendoUK wanna play some Fortnite later?
— Xbox UK (@xboxuk) June 12, 2018
Most interesting is what this could portend for the future of console partnerships. Waypoint Editor in Chief Austin Walker mentions some collaboration rumors passed around at E3 that are now supported by Nintendo and Microsoft both having their brands in one trailer.
The branding on this, plus some rumors passing around during E3, have me super curious about future Xbox/Nintendo collabos https://t.co/xRyzSCc2wL
— austin walker (@austin_walker) June 21, 2018
For now, PlayStation players are feeling a little bit left out. A former Sony developer has said that the decision to not support cross-play is all about the money. Sony’s market lead makes moves like this unnecessary as a business decision, but when the other kids are out playing together on the playground, it impacts players the most.
With Microsoft and Nintendo flaunting their cross-play partnership, we’ll have to see if Sony takes notice and decides to ease up on their stance. One thing is for certain about cross-play right now: this conversation is far from over.