Cross-play support between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is technically possible, but the politics between Sony and Microsoft is keeping it from happening. According to Tim Sweeney, the head of Fortnite developer Epic Games, it is in the industry’s best interest to allow gamers on competing platforms to play together, and it’s “inevitable” that this will eventually happen. Speaking at the Game Developers Conference recently, Sweeney said PlayStation and Xbox gamers playing together is “the next logical step.”
He made his point by referencing Metcalfe’s Law. This is the idea that the value of a shared experience is related to the number of people who can connect to it.
“I think it’s inevitable now,” he said about cross-play, according to GI.biz. “Games have become social experiences in the same way that Facebook or Twitter have, and these experiences only really make sense if gamers can communicate with all of their friends.”
Sweeney went on to say that if Sony and Microsoft do not allow cross-play, they run the risk of “breaking up real-world social groups,” and this could be bad for business.
“For Sony and Microsoft to support their customers well they have to be open to all their customer’s friends–their real world friends–otherwise they’re breaking up real-world social groups,” he said. “Like kids in school have their friends, and do you expect this platform schism to divide them into two separate groups that can’t play together? No. It’s got to come together now. That one remaining barrier will inevitably come down.”
Go to GI.biz to read their full report on Sweeney’s talk at GDC.
Interestingly, back in September 2017, Epic enabled cross-platform play between PS4 and Xbox One for Fortnite: Save the World. However, that was quickly turned off and chalked up to an error, but it did show again that it appears to be a matter of politics.
Earlier this month, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said he wants to see cross-play support between PS4 and Xbox One added for Fortnite–and presumably other games.
Microsoft has famously been open to cross-play support in recent years. Rocket League is set to work across Xbox One, Switch, and PC, while the developer of Minecraft (which Microsoft owns) is also open to cross-play between Xbox One and PS4. For its part, Sony has not seemed eager to allow cross-play.