Microsoft led the way by inviting competing platforms to connect to Xbox Live and allow cross-platform play between their online services. Nintendo accepted this and both companies announced a partnership at E3 2017 that lets Minecraft players on Xbox and Nintendo Switch game together. Sony, however, has generally been unforthcoming, and seems to be the sole reason why Xbox and PlayStation gamers cannot play together as of yet. Speaking at the Brazil Game Show, Xbox head Phil Spencer said that cross-play between these two systems is not a lost cause, though its future does not look bright (via GameSpot).
“We talk to Sony all the time. With Minecraft on PlayStation, we have to be one of the biggest games on their platform in terms of sales and gameplay,” Spencer said. “Same with Nintendo. The relationship with Nintendo on this front has been strong. They’ve been great supporters and we continue to collaborate with them. But I think Sony’s view is different. They should talk about what their view is…”
When asked if it was a lost cause, he replied, “I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines. I know there is a certain view that says if my friends have this console, they can’t play with people who buy another console. That’s a reason they go buy my console. That reason is not going to go away. So we’re putting Minecraft out there as one of the biggest games on any platform and allowing people to play together regardless of what device they bought. I don’t think everybody is taking that same approach to the ecosystem. So I’m never going to call anything a lost cause but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios, they’re not really going away. So I don’t know what would change.”
Sony’s reasoning on not allowing cross-play is that the company is only looking out for the safety of its users, and fears what could happen over networks they have no control over. It’s certainly not a technical issue as Fortnite accidentally allowed cross-play between Xbox One and PlayStation 4 users recently before turning the ability off. Rocket League developer Psyonix is merely waiting on the go-ahead from both companies to enable cross-play.
While Spencer believes the conversations are not a lost cause, his comments don’t exactly instill a lot of hope for the future of cross-pay between Xbox One and PlayStation 4. But never say never.