Sony has once again blocked the possibility for cross-platform play on another popular MMO. ARK: Survival Evolved is the latest game to get the cross-platform ax on PlayStation. You might remember the stink raised at E3 2017 when it was announced that anyone on any platform would soon be able to play together in Rocket League or Minecraft, except for PS4 owners.
The execs at SCEA put up a “but what about the children” defense for their denial, but claimed that they would be open to having a conversation with any developers interested in implementing cross-platforming on the PS4. Now it appears that discussions on the subject only amount to Sony saying, “no.”
When asked on Twitter if ARK players on Xbox and PlayStation would ever be able to play together, lead designer Jeremy Stieglitz stated, “We have it working internally, but currently Sony won't allow it.”
We have it working internally, but currently Sony won't allow it :(— Jeremy Stieglitz (@arkjeremy) August 18, 2017
So the functionality is there, and it works, but Sony is banning it from being implemented. The same thing was happening over at Psyonix, makers of Rocket League. Developers there said they could have cross-platform functionality up and running on the PS4 in under an hour if Sony would let them.
In an attempt to explain the reasoning, Jim Ryan, head of marketing for PlayStation said, "Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it's something we have to think about very carefully."
While it is good PR for Sony to say that it is concerned for the younger players, specifically referring to the Minecraft demographic in that case, it is not likely to be the real reason behind the decision. It is probably more a strategic financial move than anything else.
According to Business Insider, PlayStation 4s are selling almost twice as fast as Xbox Ones. Allowing cross play can only help Microsoft, but holds minimal financial benefit for Sony. Plus as Engadget puts it, “When you're this far ahead in sales, you can afford to look like the bad guy.”
Despite having said they will entertain discussions on the topic, it is clear that Sony has not budged at all on considering cross-platform play. It looks like an outright ban on the PlayStation 4 might be the only thing that will get the company’s attention, but it is unlikely we will see PS4 owners burning their consoles in the street in protest.