Microsoft has announced a new feature the company has hinted at for years, cross-play functionality between the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, though there are some conditions.
Developers creating games across Xbox One and Windows 10 – like the recently cancelled Fable Legends – can opt to support the feature. On the PlayStation 4 side of things, Microsoft says the feature requires Sony to “participate” for cross-platform functionality to work between the Xbox One/PC and PS4, though it’s unclear what level of participation is required from Sony.
Rocket League, a game that is essentially soccer with rocket-powered cars, is set to be the first title to support the new feature, and Microsofts notes there is an “open invitation for other networks to participate as well,” likely referring to Sony’s PlayStation Network.
While it’s unlikely many developers, or Sony for that matter, will support cross-network online play, if the feature does become common, it could change the shape of online multiplayer gaming. Currently players are segmented into their platform of choice, whether its the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or PC, even when a game is released across all platforms.
There are some facts worth considering though when it comes to cross-platform online play, mainly that players using a mouse and keyboard typically have a significant advantage over those using a traditional console gamepad, especially with some genres, particularly first-person shooters.
In the past Microsoft dabbled with cross-platform multiplayer between the Xbox 360 and PC with games like Shadowrun.