Here we go again. After catching a lot of flack for preventing cross-play on Fortnite, Sony is in the hot seat again for preventing cross-play on the upcoming Fallout 76.
Todd Howard, the well-known game director and creative lead for Fallout 76, responded to a German publication (via CNET) asking why Sony refused to support cross-play.
“You cannot do cross-play in 76”, said Howard. “ We’d really love that but right now we can’t. Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like.”
Sony is in an interesting position right now. As the overwhelming leader in console sales for this generation, they don't necessarily have a "business need" to open up cross-play between the other consoles. The number of PS4 sales are more than Xbox One and Switch combined (granted the Switch came out just last year) and Sony's likely betting on the fact that it's large install base is enough for multiplayer.
That said, having market share is one thing, having mind share is another. The PS4's dominance in first party exclusives is not likely going away, even with the start of a new console generation. However, a case could be made for gamers switching their primary console to Xbox simply because of the more gamer-friendly stance Microsoft has taken in recent years. Even the notoriously conservative Nintendo is becoming a little more gamer-friendly with its joint marketing campaign with Microsoft to show off cross-play on Minecraft.
Sony's tone deaf announcement of the $599 PS3 back in 2006 is what helped propel the Xbox 360 to market dominance last generation. Subsequently, Microsoft's tone deaf focus on non-gaming features of the Xbox One at a gaming conference helped propel the PS4 to early market dominance for this generation. Sony seems to making the same arrogant moves as it did during the PS3 days.
That's not to say Microsoft and Nintendo are completely innocent. Most people can see that Microsoft and Nintendo are doing this for the positive PR in order to get in gamers' good graces. They know the best way to sell consoles in the long term is to posture themselves as gamer-friendly as possible compared to big bad Sony. It seems that Sony is "confident" it can work out a cross-play solution but as of right now, it seems to be frustrating gamers rather than reassuring them.