Do recent announcements from Microsoft herald a new age of cross-comparability in gaming?
The Xbox system is now open to supporting cross-platform play across Xbox One, Windows 10 and other online systems. This announcement also effectively suggests the possibility of an eventual cross-network deal between Microsoft and Sony.
Rocket League is the featured title in this discussion as it launched for PC and PlayStation 4 over the summer and supported play across both systems. Xbox One, however, did not initially support cross-play with PC, but has as of this announcement changed course.
Cross-platform gaming is widely a topic of discussion in gaming circles since the inception of online play. Previously online gaming existed in camps where you’re either supporter of this system or another, with most fans having friends on either side of the line and in some cases purchasing multiple systems to play with friends. Microsoft’s announcement and Sony’s seemingly receptive take to possibly working a deal with Microsoft to support cross-play for certain titles would bridge the gap for many gamers and promote an open gaming experience.
There are still significant technical requirements to overcome and this would assuredly not be the norm for all release titles, but if game makers were to want cross-play (a title such as Call of Duty would make sense as the title sells well on both platforms, but is unlikely to be purchased by a consumer on both consoles) then the option would be available.
What may be more exciting to game makers and gamers is the theoretical shelf life expansion of titles if open cross-play is available. By increasing the number of active users, matchmaking is easier and more diverse, and even the twilight of a game’s life fosters competitive play among users. Genres such as shooters, MMOs, fighting and strategy games could all benefit greatly from the cross-platform play.
First- and third-person shooters, and fighting genres would stand to gain the most as games could release as platforms while introducing additional content over the course of one to three year cycles, while maintaining a consistently active user base. It’s theoretical, but affords companies the opportunity to try different manners of game releases and generate revenue on a title over the course of several years as opposed to the relatively short release windows currently in existence. Grand Theft Auto V is an excellent title for comparison as it ranked fifth in sales in 2015, according to Fortune Magazine, and is more than three years old. GTA V is obviously not hurting in the revenue department, but cross-platform support would carry the title further.
It’s an interesting development to keep our eyes on if or when Sony and Microsoft decide to make a deal. The two companies even talking about potentially coming to a deal on cross-platform play is a remarkably different stance than what we heard even a few years ago, though Sony touts it has supported cross-platform play with PC since 2002 with Final Fantasy XI. We’ll continue reporting on this as more information becomes available.