We've been hearing a lot about crossplay lately, as well as some efforts to block this gigantic occasion. We weren't sure if it actually would be possible, but when E3 2017 came I was pleasantly surprised. Microsoft and Nintendo informed us that they are going ahead with crossplay, and the first games to join this momentous movement are Minecraft and Rocket League.
Players will be able to join each others' games on VR, PC, Mobile and console, the two confirmed consoles being the Switch and Xbox One. GamesBeat interviewed Nintendo of America corporate communications director, Charlie Scibetta, to find out how they made this possible. More than that, they tried to slyly get Nintendo to badmouth Sony for blocking PS4 players from crossplay when Scibetta was asked how Nintendo stayed ahead of Sony in crossplay functionality, but he didn't take the bait.
They’re a great partner. Our publisher and developer relations team is always talking to different companies and seeing what we can work out. I’m really happy just as a gamer, let alone working for the company, that that’s going to be possible, that cross platform play. We’re trying to be more flexible as a company. We’re reaching out to try and get people to interact with our IP. In this case Rocket League is their IP on our system, but we’re trying to get people involved with us in any way we can, whether that’s on mobile now, or through Universal Studios parks, or through licensing deals like Vans.
Once you can play the games and interact with the characters — if you’re a fan already you know it exists on our dedicated systems, but say you’re somebody in another country that doesn’t have access to those dedicated systems. You have a phone, though, and you can play that way, and all of a sudden you’re in our world. We’re trying to be more flexible and bring more people in. In the case of Rocket League, it’s just being flexible and working with them to make their game come to life on our system. If people want to play cross platform, we want to enable that.
Reading the rest of the interview that pertains to crossplay, it seems as if Nintendo doesn't feel crossplay would be detrimental to sales or their existence. As a matter of fact, they believe that by making players happy and being able to play with their friends on other platforms will only increase their portfolio.
And I agree. As a PS4 owner, I am saddened that Sony is not taking this up so that I can play against my Xbox One buddies and show them that PlayStation rules! If there is one thing I have learnt in my working experience and as an author and screenwriter, is that working together in a network is often more beneficial than working in isolation. And if games are available on multiple platforms, why not?
However, I guess we need to really delve into why Sony is holding back, and I can only guess that it wants to protect some significant software or internet protocols. But if Microsoft and Nintendo can find a way around it, why can't they? And it seems that Nintendo will be finding a way for every multiplayer game possible.
It always comes back to the developer, too. In this case the developer is into it, so let’s make it happen. We tend to give most of the decisions in terms of what functionality to use for the system—for example, the game pad back in the Wii U days, or motion control for Wii. We place those decisions in the hand of the development team. Obviously the Rocket League team wanted to go cross platform, so we said, let’s do it.
In Sony's case, it's their decision not to, and not the developers. Let's hope they wake up to the call.
What do you think? Should Sony remain exclusive to the PS4, or join the crossplay brigade? Here's the E3 2017 trailer for Minecraft crossplay to help you make up your mind.