Microsoft surprised the gaming industry Monday by announcing it was opening the Xbox One to cross-play with other platforms beyond the PC. Naturally, the question was how Sony would respond to the invitation to allow the PlayStation 4 to interact with its direct competitor. The company responded Tuesday with a vague comment that appears to be receptive to the idea on its face.
“PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002,” Sony told GameSpot in a statement when asked if it would be interested in working with Microsoft.
“We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play.”
Unfortunately, the statement from Sony appears to purposefully lack necessary details. It avoids mentioning Microsoft or Xbox LIVE by name and only references cross-platform play in terms of being between a PlayStation console and the PC. Other platforms aren’t mentioned.
Microsoft at least mentioned “other console and PC networks” in its announcement on Tuesday despite not directly referencing the PS4 or PlayStation Network. Of course, this is all part of the legal game that is happening behind the scenes. As corporate competitors, both companies will avoid announcing anything directly until all the necessary legal paperwork is signed. That’s all part of the joy of being publicly traded companies.
The PlayStation 4 already supports a number of cross-platform games between the console and PC. Street Fighter V is the most notable recent release, but the list includes the surprise success Rocket League along with MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV.
Incidentally, Xbox Head Phil Spencer stated on Twitter after yesterday’s announcement that he would love to have Final Fantasy XIV on the Xbox One. Again though, this is dependent on multiple hurdles being leapt successfully.
Microsoft has only confirmed Rocket League as its first cross-platform title so far. The fact it already supports both the PS4 and PC should at least be seen as a positive, though more details will have to wait until later in the spring.
“It’s up to game developers to support this feature, and Xbox Live players will always have the option of choosing to play only with other Xbox Live players,” ID@Xbox Director Chris Charla explained in the announcement opening up the console. “We’re thrilled to confirm that Psyonix’s Rocket League will be one of the first games to take advantage of this new capability by enabling cross-network play between Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation for other networks to participate as well.”
Cross-platform effort between the Xbox One and PC were previously limited to Windows 10 only. This now opens the console up to Steam as well as Electronic Arts’ Origin service and Ubisoft’s Uplay.
The new cross-platform play initiative from Microsoft is exciting, but there are a number of hurdles that must be cleared first. One of the larger ones will be how this affects timed-exclusive agreements for franchises like Call of Duty and Destiny. There’s also a heaping pile of technical questions, along with more mundane queries, such as will players be treated differently when playing only on Xbox LIVE’s network versus other platforms? Will voice chat be supported?
Expect to see more details about the ID@Xbox cross-platform initiative during the 2016 Game Developer’s Conference taking place this week in San Francisco, California. Microsoft has several sessions planned for the week including an “Xbox LIVE for Windows” presentation on Wednesday. The company also has its annual Build conference planned for the end of March. Xbox Head Phil Spencer promised further discussion about Universal Windows Platform (UWP) during the recent controversy surrounding accusations that Microsoft was attempting to build a closed ecosystem by Epic Games founder Phil Sweeney.
Should Sony accept Microsoft’s invitation to allow the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One to play together? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Sony, Microsoft]