Cross-play functionality is now available for all developers on PlayStation 4 as the feature exits its beta test. A limited number of games already adopted cross-play during the beta phase, but the official rollout makes the feature an option for any developer that wants to use it.
Sony’s adoption of cross-play may seem like a natural step, but the company spent a long time resisting the feature. It was the last of the major consoles to add cross-play, finally caving to the popularity of Fortnite and Rocket League in late 2018 and early 2019, respectively. Even after it enabled cross-play for those blockbuster titles, smaller developers claimed that Sony was “playing favorites,” granting access to cross-play to only its biggest games. Sony denied that, saying developers only needed to ask permission to enable the feature, a claim developers refuted.
Now it seems like Sony is putting its hesitation behind. There was no official announcement from the company, but Wired is reporting that the PlayStation 4 is now allowing cross-play on any game that supports it. The move appears to be part of Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan’s mission to “avoid complacency” and keep Sony competitive going into the next console generation. That plan also includes a renewed commitment to game streaming, as evidenced by PlayStation Now’s recent major price drop.
Though it’s getting near the end of the PlayStation 4’s life cycle, the console still has plenty of games that could benefit from cross-play. The handful of games that already support cross-play, including Dauntless and Smite alongside heavy hitters Fortnite and Rocket League, have been received mostly positively. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare will launch with cross-play later in October, and it’s expected to be both a major draw and a test case for Sony’s newly launched feature. Until then, players will be able to go head to head in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which finally enabled cross-play on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in its 4.3 update.
Sony’s long-delayed acceptance of cross-play on PlayStation 4 is undoubtedly a good thing for players, who won’t be limited to their chosen console’s player base in multiplayer games. It’s also a good move for Sony to avoid seeming stuck in the past with the next console generation fast approaching, but it may prove difficult for the company to shed its image as the last stubborn roadblock that stood in the way of cross-play. It may not do any good for those developers that felt shut out of cross-play during its beta period, but smaller multiplayer games may stand to benefit the most from turning several fragmented player pools into one larger one.