Rivalry has always existed between the PlayStation and Xbox consoles since the original Xbox was introduced in North America in 2001 as a direct competitor to Sony’s machine. Online network play was only a few years away from exploding at that point and now online play largely dominates the console space. One thing all console gamers have imagined at one point or another is what it would be like to play against people on a rival network – that is, PlayStation Network vs. Xbox Live. Wishful thinking has played a large part in these discussions but some execs on both sides have pointed to it at some point or another. In 2016, it seems Sony are the ones holding things up so why are they turning a deaf ear?
Both consoles have matured to the point that cross network play is possible between their respective console and PC but we’ve yet to see cross network play between PlayStation and Xbox. Microsoft’s Xbox is on the front foot with the once unbelievable realisation of cross network play. ID@Xbox Europe boss Agostino Simonetta told Eurogamer that Microsoft are ready for Xbox One and PS4 cross network play…
“Absolutely–we’re ready. Rocket League is the first game–and it is a heavily network-orientated game.”
“Any title that wants to update their game to include cross-network play, any title that wants to launch soon and take advantage of that, we are ready.”
“We can only say: we’re ready. We’ve done our bit and we welcome anyone who wants to take part.”
Rocket League is already massively successful across all three platforms (PC, Xbox One & PS4) with some new impressive stats revealing that in Rocket League there have been 545 million matches played worldwide and that the game still averages over 1 million players every single day. The developers Psyonix have previously pointed to the possibility of Rocket League pioneering cross network play between PS4 and Xbox One. The game currently supports the feature for PS4 & PC and Xbox One & PC but as of now all 3 platforms are unable to play together simultaneously but they have indicated that they’re working on making that a possibility.
Psyonix and Xbox are ready, so where does this leave Sony? Sony have been rather coy about the possibility despite showing signs of being open to the idea in the past generation of consoles. Thanks to a Eurogamer interview with Shuhei Yoshida, Yoshida suggests there’s no technical issue preventing cross-network play between PS4 and Xbox One. Rather, the debate will revolve around whether it is in Sony’s best interests to allow it.
That is, Sony’s PS4 is in a very strong position in the console space at the moment and they may not be as inclined to sign up to cross network play because they’re platform is doing pretty good so far this generation. However, I think it would be beneficial for players of all 3 platforms (Xbox One, PS4 & PC) as online communities will be larger and thus benefit from greater longevity.
There are of course some issues that could arise that may seem trivial but may actually play a larger part in this decision than one might think. Say if a player cheated or harassed a player on another platform, who would dish out the punishment or handle the case? Issues like these could be one of the difficulties facing cross network play between PlayStation and Xbox.
Overall, the ball is in Sony’s court and they now need to decide if they’re willing to prove that their ‘for the players’ mantra is more than marketing talk or a genuine dedication to gamers. For as long as console online networks have existed we’ve all imagined cross network play between the two major consoles and Xbox is now on the front foot of making that a reality so I hope Sony stops turning a deaf ear to the feature and we might just see the realization of cross network play.