Okay, let’s do it. The games industry is completely dead in the aftermath of E3 2018, with everyone except us apparently gorging on Turkey Twizzlers at all-inclusive holiday resorts. In fact, it would appear the only people left over are those running the Nintendo and Xbox social media accounts, who are so gleefully fellating each other that even 2006’s long-forgotten Wii60 brigade would blush.

Cross-play – it’s the topic on everyone’s lips. Well, apart from Sony, of course – it didn’t schedule any interviews with the media last week, presumably in an effort to prevent Jim Ryan from connecting his size nines with his pasty face. There’s lots of chatter about it elsewhere, though, and the PlayStation maker’s taking PR haymaker after PR haymaker from its opponents – but how much does it really matter?

There are two stories running in parallel here, and it’s hard not to feel that the Japanese giant’s brought them on itself: cross-play has been bubbling beneath the surface since last year’s Minecraft announcement, but we never really got the impression that anyone truly cared; Fortnite brought the debate back to the fore, but it’s the account locking that really popped the juicy head.

Sony, as we’ve explained previously, does allow cross-play with PC, smartphones, and tablets – in fact, it was the first manufacturer to break down its walls, and has been open to this kind of functionality dating all the way back to the beginning of the PlayStation 3. Cross-console play is the feature that it refuses to support: the concept of playing select multiplayer games across PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Why? There’s a network effect, and Sony has more players on its devices than anyone else. It’s difficult, of course, to get direct comparisons, but last month the platform holder revealed that the PlayStation Network has over 80 million monthly active users. As of the beginning of this year, Xbox Live – which extends to a casual round of Solitaire, for the record – was at 59 million; PC platform Steam was at 53 million in August of last year.

As has been reiterated a tedious number of times, rightly or wrongly, PlayStation sees its userbase as a competitive advantage; there are undoubtedly people out there who purchase PS4s purely to play FIFA and Call of Duty with their pals. As one analyst recently pointed out, the Japanese giant has nothing to gain financially by opening up its walled garden – in fact, in the case of Minecraft specifically, it would actually be bolstering those aforementioned Xbox Live statistics, as a Microsoft account is required to play together.

So there may not be any legitimate business reason here, but there’s the discussion of consumer goodwill to consider. Sony’s slogan, For the Players, was always going to be lampooned at some stage – and the company’s giving critics the ammunition it’s been waiting five years to fire. Is it truly For the Players to prevent people from playing together? Probably not.

This, then, is a lose-lose situation for the manufacturer; a PR powderkeg that we honestly don’t have an answer to. The company is probably hoping that it can bury its collective heads and pray for this story to disappear like it did over the last year; it’ll all depend on how far the competition wants to push things, and the kind of impact this all ultimately has on its sales.

And that’s the elephant in the room really: does this actually, truly matter to you? The social media smackdowns make for very shareable stories, and the media is surely enjoying turning on the undisputed market leader, but do consumers care? Like, truly care? More specifically: how will all this affect you and your purchasing habits moving forwards?

Because that’s what's most important at the end of the day – both for you as consumers and for Sony as a company. The second this begins to gnaw away at its bottom line, then it’s going to have to reconsider; the reality is that it just posted another record month in the United States over four years into the generation.

But that’s before the Fortnite story blew up last week; it’s before ResetEra lost its collective mind and learned to use the word “anti-consumer”. And so the question is: what does all this mean for you? Is this the beginning of the end for PlayStation – a humongous fall from grace? Or is this fans of other formats desperately searching for something to fight over? Is it, perhaps, a bit of both? We want to know.


How much does cross-play matter to you? Will it affect your relationship with PlayStation moving forwards unless Sony changes its stance? Do you care, or are you completely indifferent? The poll and the comments section are open to you.

Does cross-play matter to you? (347 votes)

Yes, it’s a big deal for me

16%

Meh, I’m indifferent really

22%

Nope, I couldn’t care less

62%

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How will you act if Sony doesn’t change its stance? (343 votes)

I’ve sold my PS4 and will never buy another PlayStation

1%

I’ll keep my PS4 for now, but won’t buy the PS5

5%

I’ll grudgingly continue to support PlayStation products

10%

It makes no difference to my relationship with Sony at all

83%

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Will you continue to play cross-play games (like Fortnite) on PS4? (345 votes)

Yes, my friends all play on PS4 so it’s not a big deal

22%

Hmm, I might consider switching for future games

6%

I’m definitely moving over to other platforms after this

9%

I already played cross-play games on other systems

8%

I don’t even play any cross-play games and don't plan to

54%

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