Microsoft quietly announced an unprecedented cross-platform initiative on Xbox Wire today. Now developers will have the choice to allow online multi-player gaming between Xbox Live and multiple networks on both PC and consoles. In the past we have seen games such as Shadowrun, Portal 2, Rocket League and Street Fighter V allow play between a specific console network and PC but this announcement goes even further. Developers can now decide for themselves if they want to implement online multi-player between Steam, Origin, Nintendo Network, Xbox Live, Playstation Network or other services such as GoG Galaxy or Desura.
Rocket League will be the first game to offer cross-platform play between Xbox One, Steam and Playstation 4 – if Sony is willing.
Players will still be able to limit matchmaking to gamers on the same platform if they wish. One immediately apparent benefit of this endeavor is larger game communities. A game like Titanfall currently has two separate communities on Xbox One and Origin. This announcement could lead to a future Titanfall game with one singular community regardless of platform. Ideally this means a games player base has a much longer life than a similar game confined to just one console.
This feature should roll out sometime during the Spring 2016 season.