It is clear that the ability to play the same game with players on other consoles is only becoming more popular. Bethesda, publisher of the upcoming free-to-play card game The Elder Scrolls: Legends recognises this. According to them, cross-platform play will be “essentially non-negotiable”. Bethesda will not release the game on any console that would prevent players from interacting with other platforms.
Whilst no specific names were mentioned in the statement, Bethesda is clearly singling out Sony here. Out of the three major console manufacturers, Sony have been the laggards in regards to cross-platform play. For instance, any Fortnite account associated with the PS4 won’t work on other platforms. The multiplayer functions of the PS4 versions of Minecraft and Rocket League are also kept exclusive to that platform.
The true question is whether Sony will call Bethesda’s bluff, and dare them to miss out on releasing the game on the console with the biggest install base. Bethesda have been frustrated by Sony’s lack of cross-platform support with their upcoming Fallout 76 as well. However, they have told Eurogamer that cross-platform play is “absolutely critical” for The Elder Scrolls: Legends in a way that it is not for Fallout 76. As such, it may not be worth their time to release a PS4 version of the game that would be markedly inferior to the other versions.
The gaming industry is drifting towards hugely popular online experiences. Sony’s stubborn resistance to cross-platform play is leaving them behind. Even Nintendo, known for its quirky individuality, is open to the idea. It makes some business sense to encourage PS4 owners to convert their friends so that they can play with each other. However, that mindset is evidently not popular with publishers, who would prefer their games be as available and feature-rich as possible.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is currently available on PC and mobile devices. A release date for the PS4, Xbox One and Switch ports have not been announced yet.