There's been a silent, ongoing problem with console-based online gaming that has persisted for years: if your buddy doesn't have the same console, then good luck trying to play anything online with them if you both own the same video game. It's a massive roadblock that, now, Microsoft claims they have finally found a solution to.
ID@Xbox Europe boss Agostino Simonetta recently stated that Microsoft is "ready" for the change. "Any title that wants to update their game to include cross-network play, any title that wants to launch soon and take advantage of that, we are ready." But with bold new moves come hurdles to overcome, and this strategy has two in particular that will take time: assisting developers who want to take on the challenge, and legal matters with Sony.
While it's been said before, Simonetta also made sure to reconfirm with Eurogamer that Psyonix's out-of-this-world Rocket League is first in line for cross-platform gaming, but held back from any talk of release dates. "As a platform we don't force developers to release at any point," said Simonetta. "It'll be when the developers are ready."
These updates follow a March announcement from Microsoft which confirmed that the platform will be supporting play between Xbox One, Windows 10, and other capable platforms. At the time, Microsoft's Chris Charla explained that in addition to cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10, Microsoft was working toward cross-network play as well. "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 consoles and PC networks," said Charla. While there's been no official confirmation from Sony on the matter, the invitation has been sent. In response, Sony issued a statement that offered hope, but nothing particularly solid:
"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."
Online play has become an integral part of modern gaming culture, and as we move almost rapidly toward major summer conferences, seeing these developments move so rapidly (despite the aforementioned hurdles) is reassuring for both players and developers alike -- larger, more well-integrated audiences are what online games thrive on, and finally being able to play together without the boundaries of consoles and networks will drive those audiences to growth as friends and family game without limits.