On March 14, Chris Charla wrote a letter regarding ID@Xbox and GDC updates that’s shaking things up when it comes to multiplayer gaming. The letter talks about cross-platform play between Xbox One and Playstation 4 consoles, starting with the hit game Rocket League:
First, in addition to natively supporting cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 games that use Xbox Live, we’re enabling developers to support cross-network play as well. This means players on Xbox One and Windows 10 using Xbox Live will be able to play with players on different online multiplayer networks – including other console and PC networks.
Of course, it’s up to game developers to support this feature, and Xbox Live players will always have the option of choosing to play only with other Xbox Live players. We’re thrilled to confirm that Psyonix’s Rocket League will be one of the first games to take advantage of this new capability by enabling cross-network play between Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation for other networks to participate as well.
A day later, Sony issued a response through Gamespot that doesn’t directly address Microsoft, but leaves the door open for a possibility:
“We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play.”
The response absolutely makes sense on Sony’s part for numerous reasons. One, and probably the biggest one, is that Sony’s already got cross-platform support going on between their systems and Steam. Having this cross-platform playability was often highlighted during Portal 2’s announcement trailers. While that hasn’t been always addressed in major game releases for the system since, it’s been a quietly prevalent feature.
Not to mention, Sony’s sales of their Playstation 4 has been beating out the Xbox One. This means there’s no pressure to pull the trigger on any decisions. If anything, this indicates Microsoft’ s awareness they’re losing in console sales. Generating this conversation creates incentive for people who might be on the fence on which console to purchase. Personally, I know of several people purchased Playstation 4 due to their friends even though they wanted an Xbox One. Eliminating the barrier between cross-platform play allows people to go with their preferred console and still be able to enjoy games with their friends.
There are also other factors that are going to play into effect on the decision; the impact on units sold for both games and consoles, how the servers will work for network play, etc.
Whether or not this is in the works, the possibility of cross-platform gaming is a huge step in a long-desired direction. Hopefully, this ends the constant “console war” commentary that pops up more often than not. It’s exciting news that hopefully indicates the groundwork has begun, all that’s left is figuring out the execution.