Xbox Boss Not Sure If PS4 Cross-Play Will Happen
Microsoft talks to Sony "all the time," according to Spencer, but the conversations haven't gone anywhere.
Back in March 2016, Microsoft extended an invitation to other online networks to connect to Xbox Live to allow cross-play between Xbox and competing consoles. The head-turning announcement made waves, as this has never happened before. At E3, Microsoft and Nintendo announced a partnership for Minecraft cross-play between Xbox and Nintendo Switch, but Sony has held out. The company says it won't connect PlayStation Network to outside networks, in part because it fears for the safety of its users.
Now, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has provided an update on where things stand with Sony. He told us at the Brazil Game Show today that Microsoft speaks with Sony all the time, but the conversations haven't amounted to anything--and they may never.
"We talk to Sony all the time. With Minecraft on PlayStation, we have to be one of the biggest games on their platform in terms of sales and gameplay," Spencer said. "Same with Nintendo. The relationship with Nintendo on this front has been strong. They've been great supporters and we continue to collaborate with them. But I think Sony's view is different. They should talk about what their view is..."
Asked if cross-play between Xbox One and PS4 is a lost cause, Spencer said he doesn't want to speak for Sony. Nothing is ever set in stone, but the way things are now with Sony makes Spencer believe the company may never come around.
"I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines. I know there is a certain view that says if my friends have this console, they can't play with people who buy another console. That's a reason they go buy my console," he said. "That reason is not going to go away. So we're putting Minecraft out there as one of the biggest games on any platform and allowing people to play together regardless of what device they bought. I don't think everybody is taking that same approach to the ecosystem. So I'm never going to call anything a lost cause but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios, they're not really going away. So I don't know what would change."
Speaking generally about the appeal of cross-play, Spencer said it allows the multiplayer environments for games to stay rich, because the player pools are larger than they otherwise might be.
"I think people look at [cross-play] and say is it better for gamers. If it's better for gamers, I have a hard time thinking why we shouldn't go do this, especially when you're trying to make the gaming business a bigger business; grow it, get more games, create more opportunity," he said. "Especially in the indie space, actually. If you're creating an online indie game and you're going to create five [shards] of your game--the Steam version, Xbox Live on PC, Xbox version, the PlayStation version, the Switch version creates hard matchmaking scenarios. We should help developers, not make their lives more difficult."
Getting cross-play up and running between Xbox One and PS4 is not a technical issue, as Epic's Fortnite accidentally added this recently before quickly removing it. It's a matter of politics and deal-making, it seems, between Microsoft and Sony. Rocket League developer Psyonix has said it's just waiting on Microsoft and Sony to give the go-ahead to unlock cross-play.
Our conversation with Spencer covered a number of other topics, and you can check out the stories below to learn more.
- Microsoft On Xbox One X -- "It's Not For Everybody"
- It's A Myth That Xbox One Backwards Compatibility Is Ignored, Exec Says
- Xbox Boss Phil Spencer Hasn't Beaten Cuphead Yet, But He Has A Good Excuse
- Phil Spencer Talks His Destiny 2 Power Level And The Weapon He Wants
- Xbox One's Original Xbox Backwards Compatibility Coming This Year
- Xbox Exec Speaks Out Against Exclusive DLC And Recognizes The Irony Saying That
You can also read GameSpot's full interview with Phil Spencer here. It encapsulates all the stories featured above plus a little more insight from the Xbox boss on 4K TVs, staying ahead of the curve in tech, and Microsoft's strategy for third-party games.