Yesterday, Borderlands 3 released an impressive update that permanently turned on all limited time events, raised the level cap, and introduced crossplay to the game at last. Here’s how they described it in the patch notes:
“Starting today, June 24, we’re excited to bring crossplay to Borderlands 3 across Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Mac, Stadia, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. There has never been a better time for you and your friends to experience the shooting and looting mayhem together.”
You may notice obvious, glaring omission from that list. Sony’s PS4 and PS5, which are not included in the crossplay update.
This isn’t a surprise, because Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford already made it clear that Sony was out of the picture weeks ago when this was first announced:
The phrasing here was weird, and I never got a clear answer on what “required by the publisher to remove crossplay with PlayStation” was saying exactly. But the implication, of course, was that once again, Sony is not wanting to play ball with literally every other platform when it comes to crossplay, at least not without a price attached.
One of the things we learned as a byproduct of the Apple V. Epic case is that in order to secure contentious agreement that Fortnite could be crossplayed with PlayStation, Epic had to agree to pay PlayStation a fee if users were spending the bulk of their time on PlayStation, but spending the bulk of their money on another platform. Epic wouldn’t pay the entire difference, but they would pay something.
Fortnite is a microtransaction-heavy game, while Borderlands only sells full DLCs and season passes, so it’s not clear what Sony may or may not have requested from 2K or Gearbox in order to make crossplay work. And that’s if they requested anything at all, and they may have just said no outright, without any demands.
This remains incredibly frustrating to players who are excited for the advent of crossplay, but that comes with the huge caveat that 115 million PS4 owners and X new million PS5 owners are often not included in these games. And it is extremely hypocritical when Jim Ryan is telling Axios a week ago that “We support and encourage cross-play,” and then today we have Borderlands 3 launching without it because Sony wouldn’t play ball. Axios actually asked Jim Ryan about Borderlands specifically but he didn’t want to discuss a “live business issue with a long-standing partner,” but said “our policies are consistent across all of the publishers.” So, if the policy with Epic is to charge them a fee for crossplay, then…?
In short, this is annoying and continues to be more annoying the longer Sony refuses to go along with the obvious direction of the industry. Epic effectively told Sony “this is happening whether you want it to or not” and that remains true, and Sony will look increasingly out of step the longer they make it difficult or impossible for games to crossplay with PlayStation. I’ve reached out to Sony and will update if I hear back.
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