It’s all about accounts and in-game purchases.
Sony’s decision to ban Fortnite players on PlayStation from playing with users of other platforms caused a serious scandal . The players were furious, the value of the company’s shares began to fall, and Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft’s gaming division, openly accused competitors of hindering the development of the gaming industry.
Ben Kucera, a Polygon journalist, decided to investigate the reasons for such “stubbornness” on the part of Sony. He believes that at the root of this confrontation lies the struggle for control over in-game purchases. We chose the most important of his material .
Kucera believes that by releasing a joint Minecraft ad , Nintendo and Microsoft “surprised the whole world.” At the end of the short video, logos from both companies and both consoles, the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, appear on the screen. As the journalist notes, this may seem very strange to those who are used to thinking of competition in the market of consoles as an endless ruthless war.
For obvious reasons, the third of the most important market players, Sony, did not participate in this unexpected collaboration. The Japanese company does not support cross-play between consoles and even prohibits using a Fortnite account on other platforms if it has been connected to the PlayStation at least once. In 2017, the company explained the inability of the cross-play in Minecraft to concern for the safety of users, and this time it responded to the scandal with a strange statement , which did not explain anything.
Such intractability of Sony, obviously, is due to economic reasons. John Smedley, the former president of Daybreak Game Company, once bore the name of Sony Online Entertanment, said on Twitter that while working at Sony he learned the reason for such behavior of the company.
By the way, when I worked at Sony, the only reason [for which no cross-play was added] was money. They didn’t like someone to buy something on the Xbox and then use it on the PlayStation. Yes, everything is so simple. Stupid reason.John smedleyex-president of Sony Online Entertainment
Later, Smedley’s tweet, currently serving as general manager of Amazon Game Studios, was removed.
According to Kucera, Smedley can significantly simplify the picture. Sony’s behavior could have been influenced by the fact that playing Minecraft on the Nintendo Switch is possible only through a Microsoft account.
Video games are no longer the industry of iron and become the industry of accounts. So you can imagine how Sony “pleases” the idea that someone will enter the Microsoft account through the PlayStation 4.Ben Kucerapolygon journalist
However, the main problem for Sony lies in the fact that through a Microsoft account, players can make in-game purchases and use purchased items on other platforms. Most of the profit will go to Microsoft, and Sony will get only a small part of it – in the event that the purchase was made through the PlayStation.
According to the journalist, this is exactly what scares Sony the most. The company does not want to allow its competitors to profit from in-game purchases, and players can safely use these acquisitions while playing on the PlayStation.
Imagine a world in which accounts can be used on all platforms, and purchases made on one of them become available on all others. Where in this scheme is the profit for platform holders?
If you buy all your content for free-to-play games on another platform, and then use it on the PlayStation 4, the console will turn into a regular “conductor” on which you can play games that you have paid for other platforms.Ben Kucerapolygon journalist
A logical question arises: why did Microsoft and Nintendo take this step? Kucera believes that Nintendo “has been playing by its own rules for a long time, and the spirit of adventurism brings huge profits to it,” which is why she took this risky path. At the same time, Microsoft lags far behind Sony in the consoles market, so it has to use every opportunity to draw the attention of players to its advantages over Sony.
Meanwhile, if Sony allows PlayStation to make in-game purchases through Microsoft and Epic Games accounts, in the future it will be difficult for it to refuse other companies. Sony will lose control of the market for in-game items in the PlayStation games that are so profitable for her.
The question is, how much more damage is Sony ready to withstand before she decides that lost profits are worth positive press coverage and satisfied players.Ben Kucerapolygon journalist