Following up on Sony’s changes to their PS Now game streaming subscription service, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan told Wired that cross-play functionality for the PlayStation 4 has passed its beta phase and will be available to any developer who wants to implement cross-play into their titles on the console. A few games currently support limited cross-play on the PlayStation 4, but these changes allow the ability to play across platforms to be open to all titles.
While discussing the PlayStation’s growth and adapting the PS Now platform to stay competitive with new services launching soon from Google and Microsoft, Jim Ryan added (but not “explicitly”) that cross-play’s beta testing is officially complete, and as long as development studios “provide the functionality” for their game players can party with their friends who chose another platform to game on.
The track record of the incumbent platform winning the next time around is not a great one […] So the major thrust of my executive energy is to avoid complacency.
Activision and Infinity Ward’s upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is one major title that will be taking advantage of the cross-platform cooperative environment, with players able to to play together via PC, Xbox One, or the PlayStation 4. Platform preferences will still factor in to Modern Warfare players, as the PlayStation 4 version of the game will controversially feature timed exclusive content with the Spec Ops Surivive mode.
Psyonix’s Rocket League‘s player base currently enjoys complete cross-play functionality after participating in PlayStation’s beta across all platforms, including the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One and PC. Sony was the last to join the Rocket League party, citing safety concerns until taking the plunge on adding cross-play to the force that is Fortnite.
Cross-platform success hasn’t been historically universal, with some independent developers stating that they were “passed over” for cross-play on the PlayStation, despite Sony Interactive Entertainment Chairman Shawn Layden telling Game Informer that cross-platform “is open for business” in February of this year.
Hey @Sony @PlayStation. It’s time to stop playing favorites and tear down the crossplay/progression wall for everyone. We have @SMITEGame, @PaladinsGame, @RealmRoyale ready to go when you are. https://t.co/KNDetpXPf5
— Stewart Chisam (@schisam) February 8, 2019
Chucklefish’s Wargroove is one example of a game where the development team wanted to expand cross-play to PlayStation 4 players, but claimed to have been shut down by Sony. Chucklefish CEO Finn Brice posted on ResetEra that they were “told [by Sony] in no uncertain terms that [cross-play] was not going to happen.” Hi-Rez CEO Stewart Chisam dramatically compared these issues with indie cross-play to the Berlin Wall, asking Sony publicly on Twitter why titles like Paladins couldn’t get cross-play approved on the PlayStation 4.
The option of cross-play is ultimately left to developers, and not every developer will be clamoring for complete compatibility. For some games the console you choose will still affect whether you can play with your friends online. Many Overwatch players want cross-play between the PlayStation 4 and Xbox, and cross-play still won’t be available when the Nintendo Switch port releases later this month. Of course, Blizzard will likely never open cross-play between consoles and PC players due to “balance and competitive issues” with controllers versus mouse and keyboard use, but Game Director Jeff Kaplan hopes to see console platforms “open up and embrace the way players want to play more.”
Cross-play on the Playstation 4 is a huge step forward for Sony, and comes at a critical time right before the wave of next-generation hardware hits the market in the holiday 2020 season. Sony’s really looking to keep their dominant position going into the next console generation, and cross-play for all games and improvements to their cloud options are sure steps in a smart and progressive direction.