For the last couple of years now, there's been a quiet battle brewing behind the scenes of Microsoft and Sony regarding cross-platform multiplayer. We know it's technically possible: we've seen PC and Xbox players playing Rocket League together, and they'll soon be joined by Switch players. According to developer Psyonix, it has the technical side of cross-play support for PS4 ready to go — it just hasn't had permission from Sony. With Minecraft, too, players across PC, Switch and Xbox can play together. But PS4 owners remain within what Sony would call the Playstation ecosystem.
From the outside, and for a good while now, it's looked like Microsoft wants the feature to take off while Sony is dragging their heels. Xbox execs seem to see this as a decent way to tease their ascendant rivals because, basically, Sony clearly doesn't want to do it. At Gamescom Aaron Greenberg, head of marketing at Xbox, continued this trend. Speaking to GameReactor, he said Microsoft still hasn't given up on the feature.
Absolutely, yeah. We're talking to Sony, we do partner with them on Minecraft and of course we would like to enable them to be part of that; one community, to unite gamers. So we're talking to them and we're hopeful that they'll be supportive of it.
What Greenberg doesn't mention is that, to enable this, Sony would need to consent to its players creating an Xbox Live account to sign in. In fact, there are more issues than there might seem at first glance. Multiplayer between Xbox One and PS4 gamers would be a positive for consumers, but poses interesting questions about moderation and responsibility. To give one example, if you're playing Rocket League on PS4 and an Xbox opponent appears to be using cheats or saying something racist, does the infrastructure exist to report the account in question? Who would deal with that? Nevertheless such problems are not insurmountable, and you'd hope this eventually gets worked-out for suitable games. It's just nice to play video games with everyone.