Since the introduction of online play into the console market, gamers around the globe were able to compete, collaborate, and interact with each other. Online gaming has single handily changed the way we game as nearly every game released today has some sort of online functionality. The one stipulation to this note is that your respective online community is only made up of people gaming on your particular console. Online communities are divided and outside of a few titles supporting cross play with PC, there has been no support for console cross-platform utilization.
Microsoft has aimed to change all of that with their open invitation to other console networks. In an excerpt from a letter posted by ID@Xbox Director Chris Charla, he stated “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“.
This announcement came on the heels of Rocket League’s news that the Xbox One version of the game would support PC cross-play. Rocket League developer Psyonix has figured out how to make cross-console play happen. Speaking in an interview with GameSpot, Psyonix vice president Jeremy Dunham said the only thing left to work out was the politics of the arrangement. “The only thing we have to do now is sort of find out where we stand politically with everyone, and then it’s full steam ahead to finish the solution that we’ve already started” he said.
Microsoft has opened the door so to speak to allow their users on Xbox Live to be able to game with those of other console platforms. The caveat to this invitation is that it must be agreed on by the other parties involved for this to happen. When approached with the prospect of that invitation, this is what Sony had to say: “PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross-platform play.” Speaking a bit further on the topic, President of Sony Interactive Entertainment Shuhei Yoshida had this to say to Eurogamer: “The technical aspect could be the easiest, but we also have to look at the policy issues and the business issues as well, so we’ll work with publishers and developers.”
By the looks of all of this, it is technically possible for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network users to coexist and game together. This also shows that Sony and Microsoft will have to sit down and iron out a few details with network policies to ensure both sides perform equally well. On a good note there seems to be interest from developers to support such an arrangement. Psyonix was the first developer to show interest and ability in utilizing cross console support and we have seen both Blizzard and Bandai Namco make comments showing their interest with Overwatch and Tekken 7 respectively.
All of this information draws us to this question, do gamers want this? Personally I can not see any real drawbacks from initiating this feature. Console cross play will allow you to expand your online gaming community to include friends who may have decided to purchase a console you do not own. You could game on the console you want, with the controller you are comfortable with, against your buddies in their own respective comfort zone. Game populations will increase and console communities would tie closer together. In the end, there is still much discussion to be had and details to be ironed out. Lets hope as both fan and developer interest increases, Sony and Microsoft make it more of a priority.