Microsoft's decision to suddenly start supporting cross-platform play after years of blocking it – odd anomalies excluded – was announced expertly. Despite the likes of Nintendo and Sony allowing gamers to play with PC players for years – and, in the case of upcoming game Dreii, even together – the Redmond firm still managed to engineer an advantage by publicly inviting the Japanese giants to a party that it's both already been attending.
It was a genius reveal because it immediately backed PlayStation into a position where it could come out looking like the bad guy; should it not accept the terms of the Xbox team's sudden change of heart, then it would almost certainly be painted as the bad guy. But to its credit, despite being put on the spot, Sony's response has been good: it's re-iterated that it's always supported cross-platform play, and that it's open to having discussions with devs who may want to cross the console divide.
And speaking with Eurogamer.net, Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida has added a little more humility to the company's official line: "PC is an open platform so it's much more straightforward. Connecting two different closed networks is much more complicated so we have to work with developers and publishers to understand what it is that they are trying to accomplish. We also have to look at the technical aspect – and the technical aspect could be the easiest. We have to look at policy issues and business issues as well."
This strikes us as a perfectly reasonable response. Sony has always been open to cross-platform play, and it looks like that hasn't changed – but Microsoft has more or less sprung this situation on the Japanese giant, so it's not unreasonable that it should want to investigate a little more before making any firm promises. One could argue that the Xbox maker should have contacted Nintendo and Sony in private before going public with this – but there are no PR wins in that, are there?