For the past few years, console gamers have repeatedly raised the question of when Sony and Microsoft would collectively enable cross-play between their consoles. Microsoft has demonstrated various degrees of willingness to go along with the idea, but Sony has remained obstinately opposed. The pitch of these demands began to rise earlier this year as mega-hits like Fortnite began to dominate the industry and consoles like the Switch announced the game would launch there (and be cross-play compatible) as well. Through it all, Sony has remained stubbornly committed to the PS4 as its own platform.
John Kodera, President and Global CEO of Sony Interactive Entertainment, has written the following blog post:
Following a comprehensive evaluation process, SIE has identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for select third party content. We recognize that PS4 players have been eagerly awaiting an update, and we appreciate the community’s continued patience as we have navigated through this issue to find a solution.
The company is beginning an open beta that will allow for cross-play between PS4, Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, and Mac. Kodera notes that the steps taken to enable this cross-play represent “a major policy change for SIE,” which is certainly true. The company has launched an open beta starting Wednesday, Sept. 26 for the cross-play feature and intends to take the capability live at some point in the undetermined future.
This is a major change for Sony, but it’s the right shift. The company has previously attempted to dodge the player desire for cross-play by claiming that the PS4 offers the best experience with Fortnite you can have today — a blatantly false claim that ignores the fact that the Xbox One X outperforms Sony’s top console, to say nothing of PC gamers. The generally accepted explanation is that Sony didn’t want to open its platform because of potential financial losses. If games are tied to users based on a user account through a third party like Epic, it means someone could theoretically buy content on an Xbox and use that content on a PlayStation. As Polygon has explored, questions like how various account perks move from system to system and what’s available to a player who plays the same title on more than one console are still very much up in the air.
The post scarcely indicates that Sony is throwing in the towel on platform restrictions. Only “selected” third-party content will ever be available for cross-play, and there’s no information in the blog post about how to sign up for this Fortnite beta. But Sony’s willingness to take even this step forward towards a future in which being on different console platforms is no barrier to playing together is a good move for gaming. It’s a good move for gamers. And it puts Sony on the side of helping people extract more value from their peripherals rather than attempting to maximize profits with unreasonable demands.
Now Read: Sony Announces the PlayStation Classic, AMD Working With Both Sony and Microsoft on Next-Generation Consoles, and Performance Analysis: Spider-Man Kills It on PS4 Pro
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