(Update: It’s been pointed out to me that Xbox lacks the motion controls that PlayStation controllers use for Dreams creation, which is a fair point. However, I still think that figuring out how to make a multiplatform release work, as well as providing it free through various subscription services would be an ideal way to bolster the community of both creators and players.)
I know I’m about to endure a lot of hate for that headline alone, but bear with me here. My thoughts are entirely about the health of the Dreams and its community.
With today’s MLB The Show 21 unveiling, finally fulfilling a year-old promise to bring the formerly PlayStation-exclusive series to other platforms, including Xbox, it’s sparked conversation about what other traditionally exclusive first-party titles should get the multiplatform treatment. While of course the major single-player games are being tossed around by Xbox players who want God of War, or PlayStation people who want Halo, may I present an argument for Media Molecule’s Dreams? Moreover, in addition to bringing it to other platforms, put it on PlayStation Plus and Xbox Game Pass.
MLB The Show 21’s release across PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S is not just bringing the game to other consoles, but opening up the community while breaking down barriers. Cross-play and cross-progression for all platforms means you don’t have four or even just two communities of players separated by platform and/or generations. You now have one MLB The Show community, a complete pool of people on all platforms, no matter where they decide to play. That decision is key in longevity and strength of the community and multiplayer aspects for the game. It’s not just about making an exclusive multiplatform, but about reinforcing the community with even more players. It’s a win for everyone.
Looking away from MLB The Show 21 for a moment, let’s look at how PlayStation Plus (and Xbox Game Pass) have bolstered multiplayer communities in ways that requiring players to purchase the game simply can’t. One of the oldest examples of exceptional success was the PS Plus launch of Rocket League, which propelled the game into a position of prominence that it’s enjoyed for more than five years. It eventually got cross-play, and last year, the game shifted to free-to-play, again an effort to blend and grow the community and pool of players, rather than let the communities on independent platforms dry up, stuck behind paywalls and barriers between platforms.
Similarly, the PS5 exclusive Destruction AllStars, a game rooted in multiplayer, is launching free on PS Plus tomorrow, and will reamin free for two months to give as many people a chance to try it as possible. At a $70 premium—yes, it’s one of those PS5 games that got a price increase—on a console that people are having a hard time getting their hands on, I’d argue that Destruction AllStars would have been doomed to fail. The decision to put it on PS Plus is an opportunity to have an instant player base and community full of people who may never have even tried it at a premium. Boosting it as a free PS Plus title on release gives Destruction AllStars a chance to thrive where so many other games that really on community and broad player bases have failed. There are a number of other multiplayer games that have enjoyed similar perks thanks to being given free on Plus and Game Pass.
So when the conversation turns to what exclusive games could benefit from releasing on other platforms, I’m not thinking about games like God of War or Uncharted. I firmly believe there is still a place for exclusive experiences. But when the game, the community, and the developer can benefit in a major way from a multiplatform release? I’m not one to stand in the way, which is why I would love to see Dreams not only come to other platforms, but have full cross-play and cross-progression, as well as be released via channels like PS Plus, PS Now, and Game Pass to maximize its reach.
Dreams is amazing. But it’s also not the kind of thing you can effectively sell the more casual gamer on. LittleBigPlanet at least had Sackboy on top of its Create Mode aspects, an icon who’s gone on to star in games separate from the weight and pressure of making things. Dreams has… no such thing. At a glance, Dreams is this ethereal thing. You can see some cool videos online of games and scenery and ways creators are using the development tools, but those are often not enough to drive the average player to want to pick up Dreams for themselves, especially if they have no interest in the creative side of Dreams.
In fact, that’s been one of the primary complaints from creators right now. There are plenty of people making stuff in Dreams, but there just aren’t a lot of people actually playing what’s there. Discoverability is limited, because Dreams being sold as a creative platform—a suite of development tools for anyone to play with. But for those who have no desire to make something? It’s hard to convince them to spend the money for a library of player-created experiences. Dreams‘ near-untethered freedom in creating means it doesn’t have the solid anchor of “main mascot character with platforming gameplay” to catch the interest of the layperson.
So Dreams is the ideal PlayStation title that could benefit from community. It could benefit from wider reach. It could benefit from bringing a much higher visibility to not only it’s suite of tools, but its community of creators and experiences across platforms. Consider games that you never would have played were it not for their inclusion on a service like PS Plus or Game Pass. Tomorrow’s launch of Destruction AllStars immediately springs to mind for me. It’s a game that I wouldn’t have given a second glance to at a premium price point, but with its free inclusion on Plus, I’m actually excited to hop in and play.
Platform exclusives will always be a thing. They sell the ecosystem, an exclusive experience that you can’t get anywhere else. I think we’ll continue to see Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo lean on exclusives in some surprising ways, while breaking down some of those barriers in even more surprising ways. When it comes to focusing on what’s best for the health of the game and the community, I think Dreams would do well to position itself as an open experience without barricades, getting it into as many people’s hands as possible in as many ways as possible. And yes, to me, that means releasing on Xbox with full cross-compatibility, and the possibility of being offered as a part of PlayStation Plus, PlayStation Now, and Game Pass to get it maximum coverage to reach its potential.
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