Sony admits PS4 has a cross-play problem, tries to offer hope

PlayStation America CEO Shawn Layden spoke at a Gamelab conference about the PlayStation 4's cross-play problem.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read

If you're a PS4 gamer, you can't play online with your Xbox friends.


The PlayStation 4 needs to learn how to play nice with other consoles -- and Sony is finally offering some hope that it will.

Right now, Sony doesn't support cross-platform play, so you can't play online with Xbox or Nintendo Switch players from your PS4. While playing online games with different consoles isn't a traditional aspect of online gaming, other gaming companies like Microsoft and Nintendo are embracing it. But not Sony.

Shawn Layden, the CEO and president of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, and Mark Cerny, the PS4 system architect, spoke at a Gamelab conference on Wednesday. At the conference a reporter from Eurogamer asked Layden about the cross-play issue. Here's how the exchange reportedly went down:

Eurogamer: "I thought it was fascinating you talking about PlayStation 3 flying too close to the sun - your Icarus moment you called it, and then PlayStation 4 coming back to be more back to basics, to be more about the players. But there seems to be an issue at the moment, that Sony isn't listening to its players - or doesn't seem to be - and that's cross-play, Fortnite particularly. And I wondered if there were any plans to open it up? It seems to be Sony's not listening."

Layden: "We're hearing it. We're looking at a lot of the possibilities. You can imagine that the circumstances around that affect a lot more than just one game. I'm confident we'll get to a solution which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community, while at the same time supporting our business."

So while Layden says that Sony is looking into possibilities, it doesn't share any concrete plans or a timeline of when things will change.

But the cross-play issue has been really frustrating to PS4 players. Ars Technica notes that unrelated tweets from the official PlayStation account are still filled with replies about cross-play.

Sony's anti-cross-play stance results in inconveniences for PS4 players. For example, Fortnite players who have linked their accounts to the PS4 version (even if it was only once) aren't able to use their account on the Nintendo Switch. The opposite is also true: Nintendo Switch players can't log into their Fortnite account on PS4.

Sony not allowing cross-play isn't due to technical reasons, it's a business decision. In 2016 the game developers behind Rocket League told IGN that it was ready to support cross-platform play, but was waiting on Sony to give them the go-ahead. That green light never came.

Perhaps pressure from players, developers and other consoles will result in Sony adding cross-play for the PS4. While Sony admits that it's working on a solution, actions speak louder than words.

Sony didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Watch this: Chicago gets Boring, Sony faces backlash