After months of insisting cross-play was not a necessity for the PlayStation 4, Sony eventually reconsidered their policies against it and allowed Epic’s Fortnite to lead the way with cross-platform play between competitor consoles. While this marked a major policy shift for Sony, the sneaking suspicion that only major hit titles like Fortnite would be allowed in permeated the developer community. After some time, Rocket League was also announced to support cross-play, but major titles like EA’s recent Apex Legends don’t, leading to assumptions that Sony was the obstacle in the way.
Not so, says Shawn Layden, chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment’s worldwide studios. In an interview with Game Informer published yesterday, Layden tried to clear the air on what titles can be approved for cross-play. According to the PlayStation chief, everything is on the table, all developers have to do is ask.
“We’re open for business on this one,” explained Layden. “All it takes is for publishers and developers who wish to permission it. As ever, just work with your PlayStation account manager, and they will walk you through the steps that we’ve learned through our partnership with Epic on how this works. I don’t believe right now there is any gating factor on that. I think they’re open to make proposals, because the Fortnite thing worked pretty well.”
After the interview was published, however, one developer found that Layden’s comments did not fit with their experience. The CEO of Chucklefish, developer of games like Wargroove and former publisher of Stardew Valley, made a post on the ResetEra forums disputing Layden’s account that all a developer or publisher has to do is ask.
“We made many requests for [cross-play] (both through our account manager and directly with higher ups) all the way up until release month,” CEO Finn Brice wrote. “We were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen. From our side, we can literally toggle a switch and have it working. Of course policy work might be more complicated for Sony.”
As Layden explains it, the slow rollout for cross-play is more because it has taken some time to figure out how to implement it. Sony’s argument is that it is not as simple as “flipping a switch,” and they have had to work with Epic to best execute on the idea.
Chucklefish is not the only developer to state that cross-play is only being offered to some developers and not others. A recent tweet from Stew Chisam, CEO of Hi-Rez Studios, developers of the free-to-play shooter Paladins and MOBA Smite, was curt in their plea for Sony to open up the capability to all. On Friday, Chisam accused Sony of playing favorites with cross-play and not letting in other studios, likening it to the Berlin Wall.
You can read the entirety of our interview with Shawn Layden right here, where he talks about cross-play, the future of E3, the PlayStation software portfolio, and more.