After dragging its feet for quite a while, growing criticism from competitors, gamers, and developers alike forced Sony to finally allow cross-play between PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners for Fortnite and, just last month, Rocket League.
Sony is still fiercely territorial about its player base, however, and more developers are now chiming in to argue for cross-play being more commonplace in the console world. The CEO of Hi-Rez Studios - developer of popular MOBA Smite and online multiplayer shooter Paladins - is now asking Sony to 'stop playing favourites' and open up cross-play for all games, and not just the two mentioned above.
Xplay improves match quality in multiplayer games. When we added crossplay between Paladins Xbox and Switch:— HiRezStew (@schisam) February 8, 2019
>> Wait time reduced 30%
>> Level spread between players down 40%
>> 40% reduction in ELO std deviation per match
>> 80% reduction in "Bad" matches (by our internal defn)
Taking through Twitter, Stew Chisam touted the benefits of cross-play and the improvements to user experience it has already brought for Paladins as a result of Hi-Rez allowing Xbox One and Switch owners to play together. Chisam suggested that wait times had reduced by 30% and that it also allowed for matchups to be significantly more fair in terms of player rank and ELO, helping avoid situations where a few players are significantly more skilled than the others. According to Hi-Rez, this allowed for an overall decrease in 'bad matches' of up to 80%.
With these benefits in mind, Chisam called for Sony to allow all of his studio's games - Smite, Paladins and Realm Royale, the battle royale spin-off of Paladins - to be made compatible with cross play. He also suggested that the studio was already equipped to make the feature a reality for all these games, and that the only hurdle was Sony's refusal to allow it.
In previous statements, Sony has used a variety of reasons from a desire to protect its young user base to the argument that its console is simply better to explain its reluctance on the matter. Of course, as a former executive opined, the company's refusal to open up its platform may also have to do with safeguarding its lead in the console wars. While the company may have relented following the extremely negative press it received regarding Fortnite, it's unlikely that it will change its overall approach to cross-play anytime soon.