OPINION – Microsoft didn’t just surprise us by turning the Xbox towards becoming a PC by upgrading it with newer hardware constantly; they also announced something else. However, becoming a PC is probably not the best terminology I used there…
There’s also the announcement of Windows 10 applications getting supported by the Xbox One starting this summer. There’s also going to be a joint Windows and Xbox Store as well. This unification can be felt elsewhere, too.
Enjoy yourself regardless of platform
Microsoft‘s announcement of removing the platform limitation on the Xbox One, or, to be more exact, on its online network Xbox Live, does paint an interesting future for us. The first official game to be unlimited is confirmed to be Psyonix’ nicely done Rocket League – the car football game allows you to play with players on „other online networks”. That definition means PlayStation 4 and PC players – Xbox One owners can play against Steam and PlayStation Network players.
A positive thing in this is that multiplatform titles – and here I mean console exclusives that also get PC ports! – will be played by a bigger crowd online, or it can give you a higher chance to find a co-op partner if your friends are busy with something else.
Another positive of the Microsoft announcement is that it reignites Nintendo’s terminology of community gaming. If you have a decent PC, and your friend owns an Xbox One, you two wouldn’t be able to play together. However, with Xbox Live opening up with certain games in the future, you can play together!
Let’s return the situation around, though. What if games start to get played on more than one platform? Obviously, you will need more server capacity. However, as only smaller/indie titles will receive this limitation removed, I am afraid that there will be more server issues unless games start to be developed as Universal Windows Applications.
The other problem which might happen is a little outside the box: if multiplatform titles allow online play between Xbox Live and PC, how will the developers be able to get rid of cheaters? It’s way easier to cheat on PC; it has always been the deal, although Steam – with its own Valve games, though – bans immediately if it catches you cheating. What if the game runs on Origin? Let’s say, Battlefield 5? Would that have the cheater problem, too? This shouldn’t be an issue that gets quickly ignored. Otherwise the enjoyment of the online play can get flushed down the toilet…
Nintendo Network? PlayStation Network?
Don’t expect Nintendo to take up Microsoft‘s offer. We barely saw multiplatform releases on the Wii U – sure, you had Call of Duty Black Ops II and Need For Speed Most Wanted, but after the initial support, third-party devs quickly left Nintendo behind for this console generation.
What about Sony? Sony doesn’t seem to be cooperative, either going by their press statement… and they also did this fourteen years before Microsoft! Final Fantasy XI, which was an online game, allowed PS2 and PC players to play together. This is perhaps a reason Sony doesn’t seem to be accepting Microsoft‘s offer.
Xbox’s evolution seems to leave PlayStation 4 in a vacuum similar to Nintendo’s upcoming NX – unless Sony agrees Microsoft‘s opening up method, PlayStation 4 might run into some trouble shortly. Will Sony accept the offer of a gaijin company, or will the Japanese pride win in the end, risking the possible extra profit altogether? Nobody knows, we cannot judge yet. They’ll have to decide it themselves. We can’t tell how Sony will take this upcoming corner.
Maybe Sony‘s leaders are afraid of having less of a rivalry with Microsoft and they don’t want that to happen. They aim to be the most creative, the unique and the best instead of teaming up with someone. The decision will be made by the players, their platform of choice and their wallets, though – the united multiplayer will be easy with UWAs. Microsoft didn’t mention PlayStation Network by name, though and this is the twist here. If UWAs become the standard, multiplatform developments’ PS4 port would suddenly become an issue… because who knows how much of a difference can be there between developing a UWA and a PS4 game?
I’d rather wait to have an exact opinion – Xbox Live‘s opening up approach isn’t even confirmed for bigger AAA titles yet. (Or is Xbox Live going to be renamed to Windows Live…? Seeing how the storefronts get united – or am I thinking too much into the future?)