Gaming industry needs to explore cross-platform play



One thing that has been on gamers’ minds for a very long time is cross-platform play. The gaming community has been asking for this for years and the lack of it has remained a large roadblock for many gamers and game companies.

Cross-platform play is when users on different brand consoles are able to play together. The norm is that only players of the same console are able to play together.

So when people want to play with their friends they have to collaborate on which console to buy or else they will be unable to play together, causing a lot of rivalry between consoles and debate about which console is better.

At this point, the honest truth is that pretty much all platforms are equal and it really is left up to personal preference, but each side is still sure they are better.

The biggest rivalry is between Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox. Each of these companies are constantly trying to one-up each other mostly through gaining exclusive features or games that are exclusive to their console.

Console play is more limiting than that of simple PC gaming because all content that is put on each console has to go through a series of a agreements, deals and approval to be put on one or more consoles. Whereas on PC, game developers are more open because no one owns the rights to computer games.

Last year at E3, the world’s biggest gaming conference, an Xbox spokesperson said that Xbox was more than willing to work with Sony, Nintendo and other companies on creating cross-platform play for their customers.

This got a huge response on social media and gamers were ecstatic. This put Sony on the spot. In the moment, the company responded vaguely by saying, “We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play.”

We later figured out that this was just a knee-jerk-reaction and an attempt to not seem like the odd man out. Then Sony came back and refused offers for cross platform play on many of the first titles that were being worked on for this transition.

“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’s head of global sales and marketing Jim Ryan in an interview with Eurogamer said.

Sony claims to be worried about the children yet many of their games are M rated titles that require parental consent for someone under 17 to purchase. It could simply apply the same thing to cross console play by requiring parental consent instead of blocking it altogether.

Thus, far Minecraft and Rocket League are both cross platform between Xbox, Nintendo Switch, Windows PC and Mac. The only missing major console is PlayStation.

Xbox has also started a feature that promotes cross platform called Xbox Play Anywhere. This feature is for select games that are mostly under the ownership of Xbox and it allows the customer to buy a digital copy of the game and play it on Xbox One and Windows 10.

This a more closed source attempt at cross platforming and doesn’t really escape the bounds of licensing agreements and deals that I mentioned earlier. This is why I don’t really think this is a step in the right direction, especially because it promotes these dominant companies to only allow cross platform play on devices that are within the bound of their company.

Hopefully, this will not become a big trend and the industry will take a more open source direction in collaborating with each other to unite gamers and allow them to play with friends regardless of platform. I remain optimistic about it because what we are seeing now is a huge step in comparison to efforts made in the past decade, which I think will lead to major breakthroughs in this field.

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