Xbox executive Mike Ybarra is publicly raising ire with Sony's PlayStation division, after Sony exec Kenichiro Yoshida made controversial comments regarding the PlayStation 4's lack of cross-platform play and progression with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Fortnite is the latest title put into question as a result of this lack of cross-platform compatibility.
Yoshida justified Sony's lack of support for the feature by saying that the PS4 was "the best place to play," which many considered to be an arrogant statement from the leader in console sales. This is despite the fact that PS4 versions of games like Fortnite and Minecraft are still compatible with the PC and mobile versions of those titles. To make matters worse for Fortnite players, users on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One cannot use their Epic account if it's already connected to a PlayStation Network account, making it impossible for players to access all of their items and progress across all platforms.
Mike Ybarra, an Xbox Corporate Vice President, took to Twitter (via GameSpot) to respond to Yoshida, arguing that Sony "still isn't listening to gamers," as cross-platform play and progression between PS4 and other consoles is a highly-requested feature from Fortnite players, yet Sony has refused to allow Epic Games to implement it. Ybarra is echoing the sentiments of much of the gaming community, calling Sony anti-consumer. By promoting choice and flexibility for gamers, Ybarra is attempting to paint a contrasting image for Xbox against the supposedly rigid PlayStation ecosystem.
Still isn’t listening to gamers. All games should be cross play and progression with the right input flexibility and gamer options. —-> Sony boss dismisses Fortnite cross-play controversy - The Verge https://t.co/NDJgET0M8t— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) September 3, 2018
However, responses to Ybarra's tweet were quick to point out that Microsoft carried a similar position when the Xbox 360 was ahead of the PlayStation 3 in sales during the previous console generation. Additionally, free-to-play games such as Fortnite's battle royale mode still require Microsoft's paid Xbox Live Gold service, while PlayStation 4 does not require the equivalent PlayStation Plus subscription to play such games. Finally, some responses continue to push the narrative that the Xbox simply does not have the same number of quality exclusives as the PlayStation.
Regardless of these facts and opinions, Microsoft has shown that they are willing to play ball when it comes to cross-platform play and progression, while Sony has done the complete opposite. The most shocking side effect of this controversy was a joint advertisement from Nintendo and Microsoft, promoting cross-platform interactions in Minecraft. Meanwhile, companies like Destiny 2 developer Bungie and Fallout 76 developer Bethesda have openly expressed interest in supporting cross-play. While Playstation is unwilling to budge, the Xbox brand will be able to enjoy both the practical benefits for consumers of cross-platform play, and positive PR for their open responses regarding the hot-button topic.