Former Head Of Sony Online Entertainment Lays Out ‘Dumb Reason’ For No PS4 Cross-Play

Posted: June 19, 2018 in Opinion Piece

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by Paul  Tassi via Forbes

The storm around a lack of cross-play on PS4 has not abated in the wake of the news out of E3 that not only can you not play with Xbox or Switch players if you have a PS4-linked Fortnite account, but that you cannot use that account at all on either of those platforms.

Sony has issued a statement that somehow manages to boast about its sales numbers while dodging the account-locking part of the problem entirely. Epic has now thrown up error messages throwing indirect shade at Sony for the problem, but don’t seem to be interested in picking a fight other than simply saying “we wish this could happen.”

But now someone else is making news. That would be John Smedley, the former head of Sony Online Entertainment (and current head of Amazon Game Studios), who seems like he’d have some pretty good insight into the situation. And it appears he does.

After calling for “pressure” on Sony to make the issue go away, Smedley went on to explain via Twitter the reason that Sony gave for why they don’t want cross-play:

“btw when I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money. They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. simple as that. dumb reason, but there it is.”

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This is, of course, what many people assume is happening, despite statements like the one below, given by then head of PlayStation global sales and marketing, Jim Ryan after E3 2017 when it was Minecraft cross-play being debated:

“We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe,” said Ryan. “Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”

No one really took this seriously at the time, and “we’re doing it for the children” practically became a meme afterward. But combined with the statement from the former president of SOE, this really does not look great for Sony.

I get it, it’s a business, Sony wants money and wants everyone to own games on PlayStation and buy all their games on PlayStation. And yet clearly that’s not what fans want and where the industry is moving as a whole. Sure, Microsoft may be able to embrace the whole cross-play thing because they’re behind in sales, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t pro-consumer all the same. Sony, after years of besting Microsoft at almost every turn this generation, is clearly on the wrong side of the issue here, and now with Nintendo getting involved, a market leader itself with seemingly no qualms about cross-play, it makes them look even worse.

I have to imagine that there are frantic discussions behind the scenes here between Epic, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo to try and work this out, and yet as has been pointed out, if Sony caves for Fortnite, they’ll have to cave for all games that want cross-play, and it’s very clear they do not want to open those floodgates. At this point, I’d put more money on them trying to ride out the storm than actually changing anything, but clearly this is not going to be the last time this issue comes up.

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