Phil Spencer: Sony is Blocking Minecraft Cross Platform Play

Posted on October 12, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Games with 55 Comments

Phil Spencer: Sony is Blocking Minecraft Cross Platform Play

This week, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer complained openly that Sony will not allow Minecraft cross-platform play to include the PlayStation 4. Nintendo, another competitor, has no problem with this capability, however.

“We talk to Sony all the time,” Mr. Spencer told Gamespot. “With Minecraft on PlayStation, we have to be one of the biggest games on their platform in terms of sales and gameplay. Same with Nintendo. The relationship with Nintendo on this front has been strong. They’ve been great supporters and we continue to collaborate with them. But I think Sony’s view is different. They should talk about what their view is…”


As you may recall, Microsoft this past summer announced that it would consolidate the many different versions of its hit game Minecraft across (almost) all of the platforms it supports. It was arguably the singular blockbuster announcements of this year’s E3 conference. Since then, Microsoft has updated Minecraft with the Better Together update, enabling that cross-platform play.

Except on PlayStation 4.

We’ve known since E3 that Microsoft’s inability to bring cross-platform Minecraft play to PS4 was Sony’s fault. But Spencer and other Microsoft executives had, to date, expressed hope that the firm would do the right thing.

Today, it appears that hope has died.

“I have a real struggle making comments about their motivation or timelines,” he says. “I know there is a certain view that says if my friends have this console, they can’t play with people who buy another console. That’s a reason they go buy my console. That reason is not going to go away. So we’re putting Minecraft out there as one of the biggest games on any platform and allowing people to play together regardless of what device they bought. I don’t think everybody is taking that same approach to the ecosystem. So I’m never going to call anything a lost cause but I think some of the fundamental reasons and certain scenarios, they’re not really going away. So I don’t know what would change.”

Sony, come on. Seriously.


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Comments (55)

55 responses to “Phil Spencer: Sony is Blocking Minecraft Cross Platform Play”

  1. Tunrip

    It's a shame cross-platform play isn't a thing, but while Sony maintains a huge advantage I don't see them having a reason to change. All it means to them is a risk of lost Playstation sales.

    I suspect Phil Spencer would discover Microsoft would be the same if they were in Sony's position, but I'd like to be wrong. The Microsoft today is a different beast...

  2. Pargon

    Microsoft should have immediately discontinued manufacturing discs for Minecraft and removed it from the playstation store when they bought Mojang and re-released the game with more content for Xbox. Short term profits were definitely taken over long term viability of the Xbox brand. Microsoft shooting themselves in the foot....again, with the highest selling game of all time I do believe. Pure stupidity!

    • Ukumio

      In reply to Pargon:

      That would have been the wrong move and would have done a lot of harm to Microsoft as a brand, even to consumers within the Xbox ecosystem. Also I daresay that one of the conditions of the purchase of Mojang/Minecraft was that Microsoft would continue to support other platforms.

      This isn't like Microsoft buying out Bungie and making Halo an Xbox only title, as that game had yet to come out (it was only announced for Apple systems). This was Minecraft with millions of existing users and millions of users would have been effected by them taking Minecraft off of PlayStation systems.

      • Pargon

        In reply to Ukumio:

        Because Sony does so much right for their customers.... Absolutely should have put Minecraft only on Microsoft systems, the PC, phones. Both sides do this limited exclusivity stuff all the time, I don't think there'd be nearly as much backlash as you think. Didn't say to stop the servers...just not to release the game's expansions or the eventual Minecraft 2 to other platforms.

        Microsoft does a LOT of harm to their brand every week, killing groove, not mentioning phones for over 2 years, killing band, etc. They've burned millions for years on products. Time to think about the longevity of their brand for once, not the short term profits....And I'm saying this as a 5 year shareholder, during which time they've crushed apple in the stock market.

        • Ukumio

          In reply to Pargon:

          All the "harm" you mentioned were products or services that were simply not successful with consumers. Do you really think Microsoft would have killed Groove if it had a sizable userbase which offset the cost of the licences they were paying? Windows Phone was dropping to below 1% marketshare (to put that in perspective, the new Galaxy Note 8 now has 1% marketshare and it just came out). MS Band also had a really low userbase and external services were refusing to use MS Health.

          These were all unsuccessful services that had pretty long runs until Microsoft decided they weren't successful enough to continue. Also I think it's important to note that I used every one of those services that they discontinued and while I am upset, they are offering solutions to all of them (except Band) for existing users so it wasn't like they just gave up on the users.

          For Groove they provided a way to switch to Spotify and keep most of your library. For Windows Phone users, they are putting most of their services on iOS and Android so that even though you aren't running a Windows OS you can still live comfortably inside the Windows/Microsoft ecosystem.

          Minecraft on the other hand wasn't a failing brand, it had MILLIONS of active users, including on PlayStation so pulling it off of even just PlayStation would have effected millions of users which would have been very bad press for Microsoft. Sadly the same cannot be said for any of the services you listed.

  3. BoItmanLives

    Wake me up when Microsoft stops "blocking" Halo 5 from Windows.

    Until then, cry me a river - Microsoft is just as bad when it suits them.

  4. dkrat

    "Today, it appears that hope has died."

    This is why I come here.

  5. Bats

    This is classic Microsoft. If you can't beat it, infiltrate and infect it. 

    C'mon let's get real. This isn't good for the Minecraft community, which believe me, no one cares about. It's funny how Microsoft is trying to create a platform with it.'s not going to work. In fact Minecraft is no longer popular at all. In fact, at the NYC Comic Con 2017, there was absolutely no Minecraft merchandise at all. In 2013, there used to be tons of vendors in the showroom selling all kinds of minecraft, but today....none.

    I hate to say it, but this is going to be another big time fail for Microsoft. 

    While Microsoft is re-inforcing Minecraft where players build things, Google and Sony will be concentrating on actual Augmented Reality experiences that are ten times better than Minecraft.'s so funny how Microsoft thinks that they can influence and inspire future programming engineers when they are at the age of 5.'s totally unrealistic.

    I remember hearing Paul marvel about Minecraft on a Windows Weekly podcast or What the Tech (I forgot which one). It's as if he never played an MMO game before. With the exception of World of Warcraft, MMO games come and go all the time. Users find other things and better things to do. That will be the story of Minecraft.

  6. Idawadaboskin

    Why are we getting mad over two platformers there is nobody to blame in the chat they both are great companies if sony doesnt want to coop then oh well. it is what it is. P.S you cant run life, life runs you.

  7. trixiebigwasss

    Learning how totrade is the best thing that ever happened to me. I get to earn from the comfort of my own home. Interested in learning how totrade? Google SuperiorTrading System.

  8. Dryloch

    And if Microsoft was the one with a huge lead they would do the same thing.

    • monkeyboy

      In reply to Dryloch:

      They did. In the 360/PS3 era XBox Live clearly had the advantage in terms of paying userbase, and I don't remember MS wanting to do cross-platform play with Sony and their 100% free PSN service.

  9. Roger Ramjet

    Some of the replies here are missing what is going on here due to wrong focus on whatever real or perceived injuries in the past that they have in mind. What is happening is Microsoft trying to convert the business model of console gaming, and Sony not seeing things that way. Microsoft (somewhat belatedly, but in tune with other things in the Nadella era) is seeing the gaming business as something beyond selling consoles, and they want to spread out so they (and other console makers who so wish) have a chance at the much bigger pie.

    Sony, maybe enjoying their current console lead too much, doesn't quite see it that way. You look back for example, and see how console makers wasted their position to allow companies like Apple, Google, Amazon to leapfrog them to the TV screen, or look at the value of gaming that has leaked from console makers to mobile phones, or the rise of Steam on PC. These are things that an alert industry/segment leaders would have done a better job of capturing some of that expanding pie, rather than engage in periodic zero sum of how many consoles did who sell. That is what Microsoft is trying to change. Its not about needing anything from Sony.

  10. BoItmanLives

    When Microsoft has been in the same market position as Sony enjoys now with PS4, they've behaved EXACTLY the same - often worse.

    • EraseYourself

      In reply to BoItmanLives: So? That justifies the reason Sony is doing this? Because of a past behavior they get a pass? Things are different now and these companies have,too.

      • monkeyboy

        In reply to EraseYourself:

        "So? That justifies the reason Sony is doing this? Because of a past behavior they get a pass?"

        YES. Now MS has to deal with not being able to throw their weight around. I don't remember them bending over backwards to push cross-platform play during 360/pS3 era, when PSN was free.

    • MikeGalos

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Actually, they generally haven't. Microsoft has historically ported all their key apps to work and interop with competitor's products on competitor's platforms. Look at the Microsoft apps on macOS and Linux for example.

  11. dontbe evil

    sony style: "this is for the players"

  12. Tallin

    In reply to jr.flynn's comment: "As a consumer I hate this, but I totally understand why the market leader doesn't want to play nice as it will benefit people that are not their customers more than it would benefit their customers."

    This is in no way about their customers. It's about sharing with a competitor. It does not help their customers when they can't play with their friends on Switch, PC or Xbox One. It seems to be mostly about Xbox One, as they have been fine with PC crossplay (and said they are fine (in theory) with crossplay in general).

    And of course they don't want to share with Xbox. Unless it becomes a major PR issue, they won't change their mind.

  13. Winner

    Anti-competitive behavior is horrible, isn't it?

    • BoItmanLives

      In reply to Winner:

      And Microsoft practically invented it.

    • Winner

      In reply to Winner:

      Poor wittle Microsoft! So sad Sony is blocking you! Kind of like Netscape in the '90's, browser is part of the OS!

      • MikeGalos

        In reply to Winner:

        Oh, you mean poor little Netscape who distributed their browser for free and then when they had market dominance made it a commercial product, ignored standards (remember <blink>) and then complained that people stopped using their expensive, out of date product and said it was all Microsoft's fault?

        • Winner

          In reply to MikeGalos:

          You think Active X was a standard? That was Microsoft's attempt for browser lock-in with proprietary extensions. They tried to own the WWW, thankfully it didn't work. And it was the source of myriad security flaws for at least a decade.

          • skane2600

            In reply to Winner:

            I missed the part where Mike said ActiveX was a standard. Both MS and Netscape made the web better by going beyond and sometimes breaking standards. IMO standards are not the place for innovation or invention but to codify existing practice. One could argue that in the early days of the web the standards were established too early before the design was really fleshed out.

  14. xapache

    Only Sony PS4 players can fix this issue. If there isn't a will of the customer then Sony will not budge - or unless it makes some mainstream media PR nightmare.

  15. Tony Barrett

    Hey, don't feel sorry for MS. Just cause they're the underdogs in this console generation, what, are we meant to feel bad for them? Who knows what demands MS are making. I also doubt MS are speaking to Sony 'all the time' either. Absolutely *everything* that comes out of MS will try and twist or change the real meaning somewhere along the line. I think they genuinely like the sound of their own marketing bile sometimes.

    • Leon Ioannides

      Absolutely *everything* that comes out of MS will try and twist or change the real meaning somewhere along the line.

      Ok.... so let's avoid the glaringly obvious blanket generalization here and just consider the actions of Sony. In a word, it's what the Old MS would do - Market abuse (which by the way is illegal) and the people who suffer the most are customers, both Sony's and Microsoft.

      Microsoft made a play for Minecraft, got it and have so far not restricted it too their platform, but opened it up more and more on other platforms (imagine if they'd just kept it on MS platforms, then there'd be the cry of platform lock-out).

      Now that they open it up, people hate them for calling out Sony on what is a clearly a dodgy ploy to hamstring Microsoft, rather than promoting cross play features, which if successful could continue to be applied to other titles.

      The move by Sony is what it is - anti-competitive... and if your hate for MS is so great you can't acknowledge this, then that's a bit of shame as in the end it's us consumers who will suffer. And I think that's the fault of Sony here.

    • EraseYourself

      In reply to ghostrider: a Why would anyone feel bad for MS? I feel bad for little Susie who can’t play with Mary because Sony doesn’t want to play nice. Sony has listed countless excuses why. They are for the

       They are worth twice the amount of Sony. Sony has one venture that is keeping them afloat. Microsoft wants everyone to play their game together.

  16. Mark from CO


    This type of behavior (not helping the competition) is not unique just to the gaming world. Apple's ecosystem is structured to help Apple, not promote competition. It appears Android is also moving slowly in this direction as well. Why would companies do things to help its competitors products to the disadvantage of its own products?

    In a broader context, Microsoft, welcome to world of a being a lowly software provider. You do play the game according the rules of your master (the platform provider). It didn't have to be this way, but this is the pathway you chose.

    Mark from CO

  17. Komosis

    It is my opinion that this is why the current console exclusive title, Final Fantasy XIV, is not on Xbox One. I am not a fan of this, market leader or not.

    • Ukumio

      In reply to Komosis:

      Last I heard, the reason its not on Xbox is because Microsoft has a cross-play policy that says something along the lines of that cross-play must be optional. Square Enix doesn't want to dedicate resources to both Xbox only servers and Cross-play servers.

  18. skane2600

    In a way Nintendo could be blamed. Prior to their entry into video game consoles it was generally believed that vendors couldn't block anyone from making games for their system whether they had permission or not. The approach back then was to make the documentation for the console proprietary but competitors were able to reverse-engineer the product.

  19. evox81

    Couldn't they simply bypass the PSN and build this functionality themselves? Granted, I imagine it would be neither as cost effective nor as elegant, but I can't imagine it wouldn't be possible.

    • Ukumio

      In reply to evox81:

      They still need to sell it on the PlayStation store and Sony check every game to make sure it follows their store policies and doesn't brick consoles. I'm assuming if Microsoft attempted this (or any other publisher for that matter) they would block that update or game.

  20. Kaijudo

    If Sony allowed cross play, you'd have to log into realms, realms is connected to XBOX Live, if you join you have to join XBOX Live. It's very clear that Microsft is after Sony's install base. This is why Sony is doing the right thing. We all know that Sony does cross play; they've been doing it since the PS3.