Last September, after years of fighting the idea, Sony finally announced that “cross-platform gameplay, progression, and commerce” would be coming to the PlayStation Network, with as the first example. Now, though, some third-party developers are saying Sony is still standing in the way of letting the PS4 versions of their games play nicely with other platforms.
“We just launched with crossplay between PC, Switch, and Xbox,” Chucklefish CEO Finn “Tiy” Brice wrote on the ResetEra forums. “We made many requests for crossplay (both through our [Sony] account manager and directly with higher-ups) all the way up until release month. We were told in no uncertain terms that it was not going to happen.”
Brice’s comments came days after new Hi-Rez Studios CEO Stew Chisam tweeted at Sony that the studio was “ready to go when you are” for cross-play on , , and . “It’s time to stop playing favorites and tear down the crossplay/progression wall for everyone,” he said.
In a follow-up tweet, Chisam explained that Xbox/Switch cross-play has led to a direct improvement in the online user experience, including reduced wait times, more balanced matchmaking, and fewer “bad” matches overall.
“I don’t believe… there is any gating factor”
Brice’s comments in particular come in direct response (and contradiction) to a recent interview in which Sony Interactive Entertainment chairman Shawn Layden said that cross-play was open to pretty much any PS4 developer that wants it.
“People keep saying, ‘Why doesn’t Sony allow more people to have it?'” Layden said. “We’re open for business on this one. 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.”
Layden’s interview is significantly less cautious than Sony’s original cross-platform announcement, which merely suggested that the company had “identified a path toward supporting cross-platform features for … Today, the communities around have evolved to the point where cross-platform experiences add significant value to players [emphasis added].”
“We see the  beta as an opportunity to conduct thorough testing that ensures cross-platform play is best on PlayStation, while being mindful about the user experience from both a technical and social perspective,” Sony said at the time. “We will update the community once we have more details to share, including more specifics regarding the beta timeframe, and what this means for other titles going forward.”
After launching cross-platform play in “beta” for in September, only became the second PlayStation game to offer such support in January.
Elsewhere in his interview, Layden said that the operational side of opening cross-platform features on PlayStation isn’t as simple as it seems. “It’s just that, and I’ve used this phrase a couple [of] times, it’s not just like flipping a switch. And then people online said, ‘Of course it is!’ No, of course it isn’t. When we did turn it on, light it up, we wanted to make sure we had thought out all the different ramifications of cross-play, cross-purchase, cross-progress.”
Again, though, Brice partially contradicted Layden’s argument with his own experience. “From our side, we can toggle a switch and have it working,” he said. “Of course policy work might be more complicated for Sony. Just wanted to provide some balance on the issue and say that it certainly isn’t a question of developers having not contacted their account managers or having dropped the ball. We were told no.”
Sony and Chucklefish representatives were not immediately available to respond to a request for additional comment.