It wasn’t until the launch of Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time that I took my first crack at Sony’s Cross-Play feature. “What’s Cross-Play,” you ask?
Well, here we go...
What is Cross-Play?
How this thing hasn’t been simplified and explained on a constant, daily basis, I’m not quite sure. It’s a feature that, in my opinion, makes the PS Vita and PlayStation 3 tandem an unbelievably awesome pair. And, it’s one that I’ll truly miss if it goes away with the coming of the PlayStation 4.
With Cross-Play, when a game is released for both the PS Vita and the PlayStation 3 (and is the same on both devices), players can upload and download their save files to and from the cloud. Then, they can pick up their game on either device.
You’re at the bottom of the 6th in The Show and you need to catch the train to work? No big deal, upload the save and pick up the action from your PS Vita from the train. That was in one ad more than a year ago. Now? Sony doesn’t really tout it so much.
The thing is that the PS Vita was designed to almost replicate the DualShock controller. Minus all the touch inputs, the Vita is basically the DualShock made portable. It’s great when it comes time to play games on both machines because the transition is practically flawless. That means you won’t be learning controls twice over.
Cross-Play is great, but Cross-Buy is better.
All of that brings me to the genuine point of this story. Sony’s Cross-Play feature could be one of the major steps in saving the PS Vita... if it was always paired with the Cross-Buy side of the equation. With Cross-Buy, when you buy the game on the PS3, you get the PS Vita version for free. Two games, one price.
If Sony did this for everything, most gamers might be a lot more tempted to head into the store and pick up the PS Vita. You tell folks that buying games on the PlayStation 3 gets them free access to the Cross-Play feature as long as they own a PS Vita, and you might see a desperately needed boost in hardware sales.
Before you start yelling that Sony won’t make any money giving games away for free, I’ll offer a counter: selling the system is what matters most. Once you get gamers to buy your console, all you need to do is release quality software. If they own the platform, the desire to play great games will lead to purchasing the best of its library.
The Cross-Buy feature is really only available for select games. However, if it was available for everything, Sony could stick an fantastic feather in their cap. A feather that would lead to system sales and making the PS Vita a truly competitive handheld.