Image Source: Flickr (- EMR -)
Let us back up for a moment. During a media briefing at E3, Microsoft announced that cross-platform support was being added to Minecraft, the hugely popular sandbox title it acquired for $2.5 billion (among other assets) nearly three years ago. What that means for gamers is that one cross-platform play between the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, mobile, and VR is coming to one of the biggest games of all time, while PS4 owners are left out in the cold.
We would love to have PlayStation players along with the unified Minecraft, hope that we can. https://t.co/hRGPG8Aj8a— Aubrey @ E3 (@Chupacaubrey) June 11, 2017
Wesley Yin-Poole at Eurogamer.net asked Sony's PlayStation marketing head Jim Ryan why the company does not feel compelled to join the cross-platform party when all the other major players are on board. Unfortunately, his response was less than convincing. Ryan admitted that there is no "profound philosophical stance" that is blocking Sony's involvement. instead, it comes down dollars and cents.
"It's a commercial discussion between ourselves and other stakeholders, and I'm not going to get into the detail of that on this particular instance," Ryan said. "And I can see your eyes rolling."
Astute observation, because anyone who reads that response should roll their eyes so far back in their head that they could see behind them. It's a weak response that does not really answer the question, let alone convince PS4 gamers that Sony is justified in its decision. When confronted with that notion, Ryan hid behind the old 'Think of the children!' refrain.
"We've got to be mindful of our responsibility to our install base. Minecraft—the demographic playing that, you know as well as I do, it's all ages but it's also very young. We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe. 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," Ryan said.
Feel free to roll your eyes again. It's a weird response, in part because in his very next breath, Ryan reiterates that Sony has "no philosophical stance against cross-play at all." On the positive side, Ryan left the door open to cross-platform play, even though there is not active conversation going on with Sony at the moment. Make no mistake though, if it happens, it will be about the money involved, not the children.
Needless to say, Microsoft isn't buying what Sony is trying to sell with regards to the 'Think of the children!' angle. "The fact that somebody would kind of make an assertion that somehow we’re not keeping Minecraft players safe, I found—not only from a Microsoft perspective, but from a game industry perspective—like, I don’t know why that has to become the dialogue," said Xbox Chief Phil Spencer. "Like, that doesn’t seem healthy for anyone."
"We take the safety of Xbox Live, of our players across all of our games—inside of Minecraft, obviously an incredibly important part of that—it’s incredibly important to our team. We would never put Minecraft in a place where we felt like we weren’t keeping our players safe."
Thumbnail Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Justin14)