Why Cross Platform Multiplayer Matters: The Integration of Online Gaming

Console gaming has historically been an isolated environment, keeping gamers contained within a specific ecosystem not just by console brand but also generation This long standing paradigm is gradually changing as Microsoft adds cross play between Xbox One and Windows 10 to selected games, backwards compatibility to the Xbox One at an aggressive pace after launching in 2013 without it and now publicly exploring the possibility of opening up their online network to connect with competitors such as the PlayStation Network.

The latest effort has been described by ID@Xbox director Chris Charla in a lengthy GDC post, suggesting that PlayStation 4 gamers may soon be able to play online with friends on an Xbox One and vice versa. This is an exciting possibility that may integrate the fragmented player bases for online games that have formed since the emergence of online console gaming, which only further splintered as the Xbox One launched in 2013 under a cloud of already reversed but still publicly disliked attempts at persistent connectivity authentication and limitations on used games.

It also opens the door to non-Microsoft exclusives to use services such as the Azure cloud computing that powers Titanfall, the Forza Motorsport series since 6 and the upcoming Crackdown 3. As a huge fan of Respawn’s shooter, the possibility of the multi platform Titanfall 2 retaining Azure hosted online matches and ping times below 40ms across Xbox Live and PSN is thrilling.
Cross platform multiplayer efforts such as Shadowrun have met with limited success or stalled out in the past, but the prevalence of cloud computing and immensely popular battle arena games like Rocket League may be the push that lasts for modern online gaming.

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