Most people would have assumed that at this years E3, Sony would have jumped on the bandwagon and announced Cross-Play features between PlayStation and other consoles, as well as PC; after all, Microsoft announced their deals for Xbox with Nintendo Switch, PC and Mac at last years E3. Now, though, it looks as if Sony are going in the opposite direction, claiming that Cross-Play functionality may negatively affect younger gamers.
Or, at least that’s what it seems like based on comments that Jim Ryan, head of global sales and marketing for PlayStation, made in an interview with Eurogamer, suggesting that Cross-Play might actually be harmful to younger gamers. Speaking to Eurogamer at E3, Mr. Ryan’s said:
“We’ve got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft – the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it’s all ages but it’s also very young. 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. 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.”
As a number of Sony’s critics have pointed out, this is a pretty convoluted way of saying that Sony doesn’t want to share its user base – especially when you factor in that Nintendo, whose users are primarily younger gamers, have hopped on board, discrediting the argument that Cross-Play would negatively influence young players. All of this has naturally led to Xbox responding to the claims, with Phil Spencer saying that Microsoft, as well as all of the other companies, puts a lot of emphasis on player safety. As Mr. Spencer notes:
“I would love for players on all platforms to stay connected…the fact that somebody would kind of make an assertion that somehow we’re not keeping Minecraft players safe…I found—not only from a Microsoft perspective—but from a game industry perspective…I don’t know why that has to become the dialogue. That doesn’t seem healthy for anyone…I found the whole discussion with the safety around our game and somehow we wouldn’t take that as a top priority is…We would never put Minecraft in a place where we felt we aren’t keeping our players safe.”
I guess the ball is back in Sony’s court. Unless they want to take their ball and go home, that is.