Yesterday at E3, Microsoft suavely announced something I’ve been waiting a long time for. Cross-platform play, more specifically, cross-platform play for the game Happy Wars, between Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
What is cross-platform play?
It’s when two gamers are playing the same game together, but on different consoles. Happy Wars players on Xbox One will be able to romp with or against other players on Xbox 360. Nifty, right?
Hasn’t this been done before?
Yep, but it never really caught on. Back in the heat of the last generation, Microsoft launched Games for Windows Live (GFWL) as an online service for PC. GFWL allowed games to be played simultaneously between Xbox 360 and PC. Titles like Shadowrun and Universe at War: Earth Assault were some of the few games that took advantage of this feature. Online games were typically unbalanced, PC players were much quicker when it came to shooters and real-time strategy games.
Microsoft isn’t the only company that’s danced in the cross-platform play arena. Portal 2 players on the PlayStation 3 have the ability to play with other Steam users. War Thunder on PS4 has cross-play with PC players. Pure Chess launched with cross-platform play capabilities for the Wii U and the 3DS earlier this year.
Why does cross-platform play matter?
A couple reasons, the first being console longevity. New consoles are expensive, and not everyone has made the jump yet. People will be playing their 360’s and PS3’s for years to come. Allowing current-gen players to compete against past-gen players would potentially ease the transition phase. If all of my friends are waiting to make the jump to the next generation and I’m ready to buy now, it would be nice to know I could still game online with them while using my new console. It makes perfect sense for Microsoft to allow cross-platform play for Happy Wars, I just hope it becomes a trend.
Playing with the PC “Master Race”. PC gaming is on the rise, and some are ditching their consoles for Steam and other game distributors. Can you blame them? No, but I still would like to play games with them while using my console. Certainly, not all games would be ideal for cross-play. Hardened keyboard and mouse players would mop the floor with me in Battlefield, and other shooters. But, games like The Crew, and Fable Legends (assuming it makes it to PC), would theoretically work just fine.
Playing games between a console and a PC has the most obstacles. The main complication being, what PC games can play against what platform? Whereas, console cross-play seems far more achievable.
Why isn’t this a major thing?