Nintendo‘s stance on cross-play, the ability to play your game against people who own the same game on other consoles, had been up in the air for a while. With the coming of E3, games such as Rocket League and Minecraft, it seemed as if cross-play was becoming a reality on Nintendo hardware, especially on the Nintendo Switch. Now, in a recent interview with VentureBeat’s GamesBeat crew, Nintendo of America corporate communications director Charlie Scibetta explained how Nintendo views cross-play. Here’s what Scibetta had to say:
GamesBeat: I was just with the Psyonix guys. I played Rocket League on the Switch. I wish it was out now.
Charlie Scibetta: It’s a great game.
GamesBeat: It played great on the Switch, too. But I was talking to the developer about its struggles with cross-platform multiplayer on Sony’s console. Xbox One, PC, and Switch can all play together, but Sony won’t allow PS4 players to join in on that. How is Nintendo ahead of Sony when it comes to something like this?
Charlie Scibetta: They’re a great partner. Our publisher and developer relations team is always talking to different companies and seeing what we can work out. I’m really happy just as a gamer, let alone working for the company, that that’s going to be possible, that cross-platform play. We’re trying to be more flexible as a company. We’re reaching out to try to get people to interact with our IP. In this case Rocket League is their IP on our system, but we’re trying to get people involved with us in any way we can, whether that’s on mobile now, or through Universal Studios parks, or through licensing deals like Vans.
Once you can play the games and interact with the characters — if you’re a fan already you know it exists on our dedicated systems, but say you’re somebody in another country that doesn’t have access to those dedicated systems. You have a phone, though, and you can play that way, and all of a sudden you’re in our world. We’re trying to be more flexible and bring more people in. In the case of Rocket League, it’s just being flexible and working with them to make their game come to life on our system. If people want to play cross-platform, we want to enable that.
GamesBeat: Even Minecraft, though. Microsoft comes to you guys and says it can do cross platform multiplayer, and Nintendo agrees immediately?
Charlie Scibetta: If it’s right for gamers, we’re going to entertain it. If we can make it work, we’re going to do it.
GamesBeat: That makes a lot of sense. It seems like what you’re saying is, we have ways we’re selling our products that are beneficial to gamers. They want to enjoy our characters. They’re falling in love with our characters. We want to give them every opportunity to do that. We don’t want them buying our system because their friend owns a Switch and that’s the only way to play Minecraft or Rocket League with them.
Charlie Scibetta: We want people to have a good time. In the case of Rocket League, if that’s what the people like yourself — you just said you love that game and you want to be able to play cross-platform. We said, let’s make that happen. It’s really not more complex than that. Every game is different. Some games are great for multiplayer, some are better as a single-player experience, some are better in all kinds of situations for all kinds of games. Rocket League works best with cross-platform play. Let’s make it happen.
GamesBeat: So it’s not a policy. It’s not as if every game, 100 percent of the time, will be cross-platform. But in most cases you guys can see a way around it, a way to do it?
Charlie Scibetta: It always comes back to the developer, too. In this case the developer is into it, so let’s make it happen. We tend to give most of the decisions in terms of what functionality to use for the system—for example, the game pad back in the Wii U days, or motion control for Wii. We place those decisions in the hand of the development team. Obviously the Rocket League team wanted to go cross-platform, so we said, let’s do it.