The Cross Play Cavalcade
If you were watching E3 and the resultant post-show flurry of news outlets maniacally trampling on each other, rampantly airhorning into the echoing eternal cesspit that is the internet, to get the next big story out, which let’s face it Mum, you probably weren’t, you might have noticed there’s been a scintillating conversation about cross play.
Ah cross play. Cross-Platform play. Remember when we were all in school, lamenting the exclusives of the console we didn’t own, exclaiming with unhinged and youthful ignorance, ‘why can’t they ALL come out on [platform of choice]’. Cross play is kind of like that; the thing they’d never do; an answer to a question. A question of unification, of integration, of togetherness. A question we all stopped asking a decade ago.
Maybe. I did at least. Though it might be more pertinent in this situation than I’m giving it credit for…
To the uninitiated, cross play does what it says on the tin – affording owners of the same game on different consoles the opportunity to come together and hurl character assassinations at each other’s mother in the same digital playground. The game that’s stepping up to the plate to unlock such illustrious liberties this time? Minecraft.
In all seriousness, cross play is neat, right? It’s a good thing. I just doubt it’s going to many change lives, and for me the idea has become a bit of a non-issue – great to have, nice concept, I’ll survive without it. Maybe for some, perhaps those entangled in the tribulations of having chose their platform based on whether it’s good or not as opposed to what all their friends had, it might be the lifeblood of a multiplayer game.
The problem is, while Microsoft’s Xbox and PC platforms, and Nintendo’s Switch have all sallied together in enthusiastic agreement for the giant digital circlejerk, (interpolation party was the other thing I had for that but I’m feeling crude and, y’know, my show) Sony has said its PS4 can’t come out to play because it has chores to do. I have saddened and disgusted myself at how that mixed metaphor has turned out. Sorry.
When an excuse was demanded of Sony they sort of scuffed the floor with their heels, hanging their heads and murmuring something about not being able to ‘control’ the environment, ‘exposing’ them to the harsh realities outside of a ‘Playstation curated universe’ (Eurogamer), citing a ‘responsibility to their install base’. Honestly Sony, if that thing you call PSN is some sort of carefully curated and controlled family haven you need to have a word with some of your engineers – because I’ve seen and heard things I wouldn’t repeat in a prison in there.
Anyway, we all know how good Sony are at stammering out half-baked apologies; that sort of reaction isn’t exactly an earth shattering surprise. Seemingly though in the interview those quotes came from, the exec forgot to mention that, according to Mojang, in an interview over on Pressfire.no; all users, on all platforms, will actually be required to sign in to Xbox Live for crossplay. Whether you’re on Switch, or on Xbox, or, if Sony joined in, on Playstation 4.
If that’s right, then that seems like the kind of stipulation that would be the nail in the coffin on the subject of whether to get cosy with your rivals on this deal. Perhaps there was a subtext in the ‘commitment to [our] install base’ comment, in that they’d be pumping XBL’s install base numbers, with Playstation-owning Sony users. It’d give Microsoft a ton of data capture, including email addresses, and the chance to market directly to the competition.
Suddenly this crossplay proposition looks less like Sony being grumpy old stick-in-the-muds, and more like MS dropping by with a friendly smile and asking for a back door key to a slice of the competition’s userbase.
And if I were Sony, I would tell MS to jump up their own passages as well.
However. This theory, this excuse, shows little durability when sidechained to the fact that Sony also ducked out of a Rocket League crossplay opportunity as well. Perhaps there’s a similar requirement in place that Psyonix are being a little more tight-lipped about than Mojang?
What do you think of the prospect of Minecraft and Rocket League cross-play? Are you wounded that Sony are refusing to play ball? Are you largely indifferent to the entire thing because playing online with other people makes you want to be sick in your mouth? Let us know you lot.
More on Respawn soon!