Cross-play talk has yet to cease. Interestingly, Bethesda has a lot to say. The publisher has made clear its thoughts on the matter—cross-play should be embraced by all hardware manufactures. Sony’s recent move on this front with Fortnite seems a promising next step. However, Bethesda envisions a future that takes these steps even further. According to Bethesda Senior Vice President of Global Marketing and Communications Pete Hines, who paraphrased Bethesda Game Studios’ Todd Howard, like DVD purchases, one copy of a game should work on all consoles regardless of platform manufacturer.
Hines explained his stance on cross-play during a Fallout 76 media event. He told Eurogamer the following:
I think [cross-play] just makes for a much better community, that we don’t have these arbitrary walls. I’m reminded of something Todd Howard said in an interview some years ago now, I’m paraphrasing him – I would like to see games get to the point that we view them like movies on DVD, which is to say if you want to go rent or buy Deadpool, you’re not buying it specifically for Sony players or Panasonic, you have a DVD and whatever plays DVDs plays DVDs.
As a game creator, you just want to make a game and have it work the same everywhere, as opposed to these guys have these rules about how friends lists works, or whatever, while over here it’s completely different. So the more that we get to this [principle] that it’s just a game on whatever platform, we’re not siloing people, I think will be positive. So that, games as a service, and like you guys, I’m interested to see where they go with the hardware choices, the technologies and giving our devs more tools and horsepower to work with.
With regards to the topic of console manufactures’ success often hinging on brand loyalty, Hines added,
Yeah, but again it’s a problem other industries seem to have figured out. And I think at some point all of us are going to have to recognise it and embrace it in the same way that televisions do, or DVD and Blu-ray players do. You don’t go to plug your TV into cable and think “oh shit, this LGTV isn’t compatible with my Comcast box”. It all just works. You build brand loyalty in other ways.
Is the gaming industry prepared for such a momentous shift? It’s doubtful we’ll know for sure anytime soon.