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Microsoft is opening the doors to allow Xbox One and PC gamers to play multiplatform games together, according to a release from Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox.
This is as much as is confirmed, that Xbox One and Windows 10 games will have native cross-play support.
However, there are implications that the compatibility may go beyond even that. According to the release, Microsoft is “enabling developers to support cross-network play as well […] including other console and PC networks.”
While it is not mentioned explicitly what “other console and PC networks” are being referred to, it’s hard to think of any console network they could be talking about other than the Playstation 4.
That said, while Microsoft has opened the door, they clearly say it is “up to developers to support this feature,” and it remains to be seen how easy or difficult it will be for developers to foot the bill for making their games cross platform boundaries. As we saw with Sony’s support for Remote Play, when consoles add a cross-platform feature and ask developers to support it by putting it on their own tab, it doesn’t go well.
Still, Psyonix’s Rocket League is among the first games confirmed to support Xbox One-to-PC play, and again there is a stated “open invitation for other networks to participate as well.”
There is no word from Sony regarding whether they plan to reciprocate this cross-platform functionality, though Microsoft is all but blatantly throwing down the gauntlet in challenging them to do so. The Playstation 4 still has a greater install base than the Xbox One by an estimated 2-to-1 ratio, so it may be that Sony has no reason to allow access to their user base, since it would necessarily help support Xbox’s smaller online communities.
This news headlines an announcement ahead of this week’s Game Developers Conference highlighting Microsoft’s changes to their publishing platform in general, including MonoGame support and the continuation of Xbox Game Preview.