Xbox and Nintendo are having a small romance in the gaming community because of their stance on the cross-play issues presently taking the industry by storm. In case you’ve missed it, everything started with Fortnite. Shortly after the launch of Fortnite: Battle Royale, cross-play became available for people who play the game. Xbox One owners could play with PC and mobile users. Since the Nintendo Switch version launched, Xbox One players have also been able to cross-play with people on the Switch. Unfortunately, one group is missing: PlayStation 4 users are unable to cross-play with Xbox One and Nintendo Switch owners. To make matters worse, if you’ve connected your Epic ID to the PlayStation 4, you need to either unlink it or create a new one to use for the other platforms. It’s an issue that has been a cause for controversy over the past week.
On Thursday, Nintendo and Xbox had a small dialogue on Twitter about playing Minecraft via cross-play. In fact, Nintendo even released a trailer about all of this as well. With Xbox and Nintendo having the same stance on the issue, can this blossom into a game-changing friendship? I think so. A while ago, Phil Spencer was open to Banjo and Kazooie being included in Super Smash Bros.
A relationship between Xbox and Nintendo isn’t out of the realm of possibility. There’s a stigma in the video game industry that companies need to be against each other. If you’re a fan of Xbox, it’s an unwritten rule on the internet that you need to be loyal to that console. Well, you know what? Microsoft and Nintendo are playing nice. When Microsoft purchased Mojang and obtained Minecraft in the process, the company could have just kept the game on Xbox consoles. They had every right to do this, but in the end, Minecraft stayed on platforms it was already on and even came to the Switch. Owners of Nintendo’s newest console even need an Xbox Live Gamertag to access the online functions of the game, so the seeds between Microsoft and Nintendo are already there.
Let’s not forget that Nintendo and Microsoft also have a connection in Rare. The legendary studio spent years creating some of the best games on Nintendo platforms like Donkey Kong Country, Perfect Dark, and Banjo-Kazooie. Besides new games, Xbox One owners also got Rare Replay, a collection of games from the studio that included classics from the Nintendo 64 catalog. It’s entirely possible for Microsoft, Nintendo, and Rare to collaborate on a future project featuring Banjo or Conker. Imagine how cool that would be! Adding cross-play as well would be a game-changer. Now that Xbox Live is part of the Switch ecosystem, it’s clear that Nintendo is willing to “play ball” with the competition.
Despite Sony’s lead this console generation, the company not allowing cross-play will hurt them in the long run. If Nintendo and Xbox continue to use cross-play with future releases, they’ll keep the player base up for those particular games. With Sony having a backwards-thinking attitude in this matter, players with multiple consoles may choose to buy their games on Xbox or Switch over the PlayStation 4. I personally know people who have already downloaded Fortnite on Switch and created a new Epic ID because of Sony’s actions. It’s a non-consumer-friendly decision that will harm PlayStation 4’s ecosystem.
When the next generation starts, what will people prefer to buy? A PlayStation 5 that can’t use cross-play or a new Nintendo or Xbox that lets users play with others? I’m a huge fan of PlayStation, but I think this is a very bad move on Sony’s part. The cross-play issue won’t be ending anytime soon. The gaming community (myself included) is very vocal. Look at last year’s microtransaction/loot box debacle. Consumers and writers vented their frustration until EA reversed its stance on loot boxes. I’d say it worked because Battlefield V doesn’t contain the controversial paid content model. While Sony might not budge on its position, expressing your dissatisfaction doesn’t hurt. Who knows? Maybe Sony will realize how many players care about this issue, and they’ll let all consoles coexist. It’s a long shot, but nothing is impossible.
Xbox and Nintendo are in an interesting situation. It’s the first time in recent memory when competing companies have placed an olive branch and started working together. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, I haven’t seen something like this happen. Two of the big three companies are thinking about their fanbases and doing what they can to make consumers happy. Fortnite and Minecraft could be the start of something big. Whether this means more cross-play titles down the road–working with each other on other projects or even sharing some existing characters in upcoming games–the future looks bright for Microsoft and Nintendo. I’m too excited to see where this budding friendship is going. One thing is for sure when these companies work together–gamers win. Despite there being controversy surrounding cross-play, the gears seem to be in motion for something spectacular, and I can’t wait.