Sony 'still isn't listening to gamers' about cross-play, says Xbox exec. He's right

Commentary: Sony says you can't have cross-play because PlayStation is the best. That's seriously what the CEO said.

Sean Hollister Senior Editor / Reviews
When his parents denied him a Super NES, he got mad. When they traded a prize Sega Genesis for a 2400 baud modem, he got even. Years of Internet shareware, eBay'd possessions and video game testing jobs after that, he joined Engadget. He helped found The Verge, and later served as Gizmodo's reviews editor. When he's not madly testing laptops, apps, virtual reality experiences, and whatever new gadget will supposedly change the world, he likes to kick back with some games, a good Nerf blaster, and a bottle of Tejava.
Sean Hollister
2 min read

Microsoft is taking another dig at Sony -- and it's a totally legitimate one, if you ask me. Sony doesn't want you to play with your Xbox or Switch friends, and on Friday, the company's CEO gave us one of the dumbest-sounding reasons yet. You can't have cross-play because PlayStation is the best.

Microsoft's response? Sony "still isn't listening to gamers," tweeted Xbox exec Mike Ybarra, over Labor Day weekend. "All games should be cross play and progression with the right input flexibility and gamer options," he added.

OK, some background might help: Cross-play is the idea that people should be able to team up across PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC to play games together online. And we've known since 2016 that Sony is the only company standing in the way of that happening. Contrary to rumors, game developers have repeatedly said there's no technological limitation.

And though Sony has since been shown up by Microsoft and Nintendo, and though Sony enraged the Fortnite community, and though Fallout developer Bethesda has badmouthed Sony about cross-play and threatened to hold another game hostage, and even though PlayStation America CEO Shawn Layden suggested Sony might have actually gotten the message...

... This past Friday, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida reportedly told the press that his company generally doesn't believe in the idea of opening up the PlayStation to cross-platform multiplayer.

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"On cross-platform, our way of thinking is always that PlayStation is the best place to play. Fortnite, I believe, partnered with PlayStation 4 is the best experience for users, that's our belief," he said, according to The Independent.

"But actually, we already opened some games as cross-platform with PC and some others, so we decide based on what is the best user experience. That is our way of thinking for cross-platform," he reportedly added.

That second quote does make it sound like Sony would be open to cross-play on a case-by-case basis, if Sony believed that cross-play would be the "best user experience." That's something.

But you know what would be the best user experience for me, Sony?

If I didn't have to make a mental spreadsheet of not only which games my friends and colleagues own, but whether they own the PS4, Xbox, PC or Switch version of the game before I can consider organizing an online game session -- that would be the best user experience.

I've got a 21-month-old daughter now, and I don't have time for that. Nor the time or willpower to convince people to buy different consoles , or different versions of games, than the ones they already have.

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

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First published Aug. 31, 2018.
Update, Sept. 4 at 2:02p.m. PT:
With comments made on Twitter by Microsoft CVP Mike Ybarra.