Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo, who among them effectively control the entirety of the console gaming market, have announced a shared set of safety guidelines for how they’ll moderate and police their online platforms.
“Protecting players online requires a multidisciplinary approach,” the statement, which was posted simultaneously by the three companies, reads. “One that combines the benefits of advanced technology, a supportive community, and skilled human oversight.”
The principles have been published as increasing numbers of games, like Fortnite, Rocket League, and Apex Legends, are offering crossplay among the different platforms, allowing gamers to play together regardless of which hardware they’re using. However, the feature could cause problems if each platform’s rules are enforced differently. The new principles should help each console manufacturer follow similar approaches to keeping players safe.
In the past, Sony has cited potential differences like these as the reason for not allowing PS4 gamers to play against other consoles. Back in 2017, PlayStation global sales and marketing head Jim Ryan told Eurogamer that the reason the company wasn’t supporting crossplay in Rocket League or Fortnite was that the company didn’t want to expose its players to online environments outside of its control.
“We have a contract with the people who go online with us, that we look after them and they are within the PlayStation curated universe,” Ryan said. “Exposing what in many cases are children to external influences we have no ability to manage or look after, it’s something we have to think about very carefully.”
Sony later walked back its position, and allowed for crossplay between consoles in the two games. It has allowed other games on its platform to support the feature since then.
The new principles come under three main categories; prevention, partnership, and responsibility. Prevention covers allowing players to customize their privacy controls, to promote the existence of these options and make them easy to use. Partnership, meanwhile, includes pledges to cooperate with other organizations and ratings agencies on safety initiatives. Finally, responsibility includes a commitment to be transparent about rules, and to make it easy for players to report when people break the rules.
“This partnership signifies our commitment to work together to improve player safety and ensure gaming remains truly for everyone,” the statement reads.
The announcement doesn’t contain any details about specific policy changes any of the companies are making, but the solidarity is notable in an industry where competition among them is often characterized as a “war.”