Perhaps there is an end to the rivalry in sight. The possibility of a network that encompasses all console and PC players seems like a dream for the gaming community. It would allow all gamers to engage in competitive play among each other, no matter what sort of controller they have in hand. Or, it could just make the competition more vicious because some games will have a definite advantage on certain platforms. It could go either way.
On Monday, Microsoft made a surprise announcement that it was opening Cross-Network Play to other platforms beyond the good old PC. Naturally, the concept of creating cross-platform play is not new to Xbox One. Windows 10 introduced it nearly since its launch, and it was a natural move for Microsoft since it owns both the operating system and the console. The only thing holding them back were the game developers.
However, perhaps the possibility of more platforms will entice game makers to enable that sort of connection. Microsoft appeared to be inviting when it mentioned that their plan is to expand Cross-Network Play to “other consoles and PC networks”. The announcement was made by Chris Charla, the director of ID@XBOX, who claimed that if game developers are willing, Microsoft is inviting consoles into the fold. That could mean that both PlayStation and Nintendo have an open invitation to join in.
Should they accept, it would be a significant change in the market, so game developers might need some time to think about it. They would have to rethink their marketing strategies, game exclusives, time release exclusives, and controls. Some titles could be more advantageous to play on specific platforms, be it due to mechanics or quality, and then they would have to deal with that mess. There are a lot of raging gamers out there, and this could only add more reasons for them to condemn a more diversified competition.
On the other hand, it could end the console wars to some degree. The PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One could band together to share a network where the platform does not matter, only the game does. That sounds exceptional for developers on paper. It remains to be seen if they’re ready to jump on board with the idea that Microsoft brought to the table.
Sony offered a vague yet optimistic response. The company stated that they “would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers”. It’s not a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’, and they did not mention Xbox or Nintendo specifically. But it does open the possibility of creating a network to bring together Xbox and PlayStation players. The connections to the PC are already there. Microsoft created a system for Xbox and the PC, and PlayStation already has a few choice titles that support cross-platform. That includes last summer’s hit game Rocket League, Street Fighter V, and a few others.
The next natural step would seem to be a cross-network play between Xbox One and PlayStation 4. It may just be a pipe dream, but the possibility alone is exciting.
In the meantime, though, Microsoft announced that players should definitely expect a cross-network play between Xbox One and PC for Rocket League later this spring. It’s, at least, a step forward, and they’ve tossed the idea out there that they would be open to expanding. However, there are massive amounts of legal paperwork that needs to be dealt with before that can happen. We shouldn’t expect a global type of network between platforms soon.
So far, we know that Microsoft is open to it, Sony will consider it, and game developers have a decision to make.
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