To the surprise of many, Microsoft has announced plans to bring its Xbox Live service to multiple platforms - including the Nintendo Switch. Admittedly, the console wars are a nice narrative and something that gamers like to get invested in. Choosing between PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo, or even PC has long been a point of pride among gamers that then turn around and wear the brand like a badge of honor. As it turns out, Microsoft - despite being dedicated to an exclusive library of software on its respective platforms - wants more universal appeal for its service.
This initiative first began when Microsoft announced that it would begin bringing its first-party software to Windows PC. This created an ecosystem of sorts that allowed those playing games like Gears of War and Sea of Thieves to interact and play with Xbox and PC users alike. Eventually this led to Minecraft providing cross-play on Nintendo Switch and Xbox One platforms, and now it sounds as if even more Xbox Live features will be coming to non-Microsoft platforms.
Microsoft has confirmed plans to further discuss the future of Xbox Live and cross-platform play at GDC 2019. The goal here is to bring Xbox Live to other platforms like the Nintendo Switch and mobile devices in order to bring some of the best features and cross-play options to gamers. It's an exciting premise, but one that still lacks clarity - albeit likely to operate similarly to the current version of Minecraft on those platforms.
The breakdown of these Xbox Live plans is highlighted on the official GDC 2019 website:
"Xbox Live is one of the largest, most engaged gaming communities on the planet with decades of experience providing managed game services to developers that save you time and unlock all of the social and engagement features that players love.
Now Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger. Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK.
Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs."
Bringing this sort of crossover play to rival hardware is an interesting strategy for the company. The hopes of being able to generate Xbox achievements for games that appear across consoles is an especially ambitious endeavor, whether or not this will also be the case for third-party titles. Truthfully, the best way Microsoft can achieve success with this plan would be through bringing its own games to other platforms, which could mean big things for Nintendo Switch owners if this comes to pass.
Seeing Halo playable on Switch or Banjo-Kazooie appearing in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are now entirely feasible with this strategy. GDC 2019 kicks off on March 18, 2019, so Microsoft's vision for the future of Xbox Live will be made more clear then.
Source: GDC 2019