Topline: PlayStation 4 owners can finally play Minecraft alongside players on other platforms like Nintendo Switch and Xbox One, Microsoft, the owner of Minecraft, announced this morning. It’s an end to Sony’s longstanding refusal to allow “cross-play”—multiplayer and shared progression and purchasing on other platforms—with Minecraft.
- The PlayStation 4 version will receive the unified Bedrock update to Minecraft, enabling cross-play with Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows 10, iOS, Android and Gear VR.
- Minecraft is a Microsoft-owned property originally launched independently on PC, but last year the company made the unprecedented move of allowing multiplayer cross-play with its console rival Nintendo.
- Nintendo and Xbox seemingly trolled Sony in its marketing at the time, using the tagline “Better Together” and passive-aggressively interacting with each other on Twitter.
- Sony has been slower to allow cross-play in games like Fortnite and Minecraft, drawing the ire of players around E3 2018 as Nintendo and Microsoft were partnering up.
- While full cross-play on PlayStation 4 existed previously with Fortnite and Rocket League, Minecraft cross-play is more notable since Microsoft both publishes the game and its own gaming platforms, unlike those other two games.
Key Background: The barriers between gaming’s three major console developers seem to be dissipating a bit with increasing instances of cross-play between major titles. Sony is even working with Microsoft on game streaming and AI solutions as cloud-based gaming becomes more mainstream. It’s an intriguing wrinkle as Sony and Microsoft turn over to their new platforms, the PlayStation 5 and Project Scarlett, next year. Still, don’t expect Microsoft to start launching its console-selling exclusives like Halo on PlayStation.
Big Number: There’s a reason games like Fortnite and Minecraft have been able to force Sony’s hand. They’re two of the biggest games in the world, and Minecraft is perhaps the bestselling game ever, with 176 million copies sold.