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Fallout 76’s Todd Howard: No cross-console play because ‘Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like’

PS4’s reluctance to support cross-platform play comes back into the spotlight

Fallout 76 teaser - entertainment center with TV on it Bethesda Game Studios/Bethesda Softworks
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Todd Howard, the Bethesda Game Studios director and creative leader behind the forthcoming Fallout 76, bluntly called out Sony when a German publication asked why that game wouldn’t support cross platform play.

“You cannot do cross-play in 76,” Howard said, according to (via CNET). “We’d really love that but right now we can’t. Sony is not as helpful as everyone would like.”

We reached out to a Bethesda Softworks representative for additional comment and were told the publisher had nothing more to add.

Fallout 76 is an online-only multiplayer game launching in November for PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One. Microsoft, more two years ago, opened up the Xbox One platform to cross-console play beginning with Rocket League, while Sony held firm that the PlayStation 4 would not participate in cross-platform play with other consoles. Last year, Sony said it was holding out of allowing Minecraft players on PS4 to mingle with users on other consoles, citing its inability to guarantee a safe experience for all of its users, especially for a game with such a young installation base. Phil Spencer, the Xbox division boss, dismissed Sony’s complaint out of hand.

In September 2017, a “configuration issue” at Epic Games allowed Fortnite players on Xbox One and PS4 to briefly mingle; Epic quickly corrected it, and the two player populations have been separated since.

Epic Games announced at E3 2018 that the ultrahot Fortnite: Battle Royale was coming to the Nintendo Switch, and it launched on June 12 for that platform with 2 million downloads on the first day, reigniting the cross-console play question. Making matters worse, gamers soon discovered that if they had used their Epic Games account to play Fortnite on PS4, they were locked out of using it on the Switch or Xbox.

Microsoft and Nintendo ramped up the pressure on PlayStation with a remarkable joint advertisement on June 21 touting Minecraft’s compatibility between the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One.

Last week, Shawn Layden, the president and chief executive of Sony Interactive Entertainment America, told Eurogamer that the company was “looking at a lot of the possibilities,” and would soon arrive at a solution “which will be understood and accepted by our gaming community.”

Bethesda Softworks also has had a somewhat fractious relationship with Sony. The publisher launched its “Creation Club” suite of mod support for Fallout 4 and The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim Special Edition for Windows PC and Xbox One in mid 2016. By September of that year, Bethesda still had not rolled out the service on PlayStation 4, and appeared to give up, blaming Sony’s approval processes. A month later, the two sides patched up and Creation Club was rolled out to PS4 users.