The new version of Minecraft is bringing the biggest change to the game in some time. The update, entitled “Better Together,” is bringing cross-platform play. Everyone who plays Minecraft can play together – except PlayStation 4 owners.
Microsoft announced the update at E3 2017, which includes cross-platform play for Xbox One, Android iOS, Windows 10, virtual reality, and even Nintendo Switch.
In a FAQ about the new version, developer Mojang writes that “while we are thrilled to be able to confirm the new version of Minecraft is coming to Nintendo Switch, we are still in discussions with Sony about PlayStation and have nothing to confirm. We would love to work with Sony to bring players on PlayStation 4 into this ecosystem as well.”
You can almost hear the gritted teeth through which that last sentence is coming.
Reasons and excuses
For Microsoft, cross-platform play is a good move. Minecraft is on just about every platform known to the modern world, and unifying them increases the potential playerbase and interconnectivity of every version. If you own the game on Xbox One, your neighbor has it on Switch, and your cousin has it on iOS, you’ll all be able to get online together – parents don’t have to worry about which version they’re buying.
For Sony, the concern apparently comes down to stakeholders first and protecting its users second. Based on the fact that Sony’s marketing boss Jim Ryan only mentioned protecting users once the interviewer asked, I’m going to conjecture that Sony is less concerned about protecting its users than it is about looking strong against their competitor, Microsoft. Xbox boss Phil Spencer isn’t buying the false concern either. And the fact that Nintendo – the company that intentionally makes it more difficult to play online by obfuscating user identities behind complex “friend codes” to protect its users – is in, makes that concern hold water about as well as my brushed nickel colander.
When the update hits, current digital versions of Minecraft will all be simply called Minecraft. Platform-specific versions not eligible for the update will have their own “edition” titles. The original Java edition of the game, for example, will continue to receive updates, but will be called Minecraft: Java Edition. Some versions of the game will go away from marketplaces as they’re replaced by the new version, though if you own the game digitally your ownership will carry over. The Better Together update and its cross-platform play are coming this fall.