With the advent of the eighth generation of video gaming consoles, Microsoft has lifted the flag of cross-playability like no other company before it. Starting with the game Shadowrun in 2017, Microsoft’s cross play initiative began to see the light of day, allowing console and PC gamers to intermingle on the web. Since that time, Microsoft has spearheaded cross-platform playability among popular games like Rocket League and Minecraft–players on Switch can play both with players on X-Box One o PS. Playstation, who has traditionally declined to dip their toe into cross-play waters, finally relented, allowing Fortnite and Rocket League players to team up with X-Box and Switch counterparts.
Now, Microsoft is taking it a step further. They plan to reveal at the Game Developer’s Conference 2019 their plan to expand X-Box Live support to Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. This is huge, allowing achievements, clubs, friends and more to be shared on non-Microsoft consoles for the first time ever.
Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger. Xbox Live is expanding from 400 [million] gaming devices and a reach to over 68 [million] active players to over 2 [billion] devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK (X-Box Development Kit)
This is a very ambitious move from Microsoft, and one that gamers should welcome, especially considering the engagement of mobile gamers versus console gamers. This gap has been closing in recent years with games like Minecraft. Cross-platform playability has long been a barrier to developers who want their players to be able to mingle no matter the platform, and Microsoft’s move here should break down that barrier. It might even force Sony’s hand, with Playstation typically being the most stingy with cross-play gaming.
Game producers looking to plan a multi-platform strategy that brings the most active, engaged players into a community where they can watch, buy, play, pause, and continue their games from one device to the next on top of the most reliable social and multiplayer network in the world.
That’s big. So, say you’re playing Overcooked on your X-Box One, and you have an appointment. If Microsoft has it’s druthers, you would be able to pause it on X-Box, pick up your Nintendo Switch and take it with you to the dentist’s waiting room, and pick up where you left off, slinging salads for faceless customers. That is a level of integration that is truly groundbreaking. Obviously this won’t happen overnight, but this is encouraging to gaming fans on all platforms.