Microsoft is opening up its Xbox Live online service to gamers on other platforms — namely, PlayStation 4 and PC. Whoa.
In a move that’s up there with Sonic the Hedgehog appearing next to Super Mario in a video game, Microsoft announced this morning on its Xbox blog that it’s opening up the Xbox Live online platform — the service you use to play games online through an Xbox One or Xbox 360 — to every platform.
First, in addition to natively supporting cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 games that use Xbox Live, we’re enabling developers to support 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 console and PC networks.
That’s a huge move.
It means games like “Destiny” or “Call of Duty” could be played online, together, by players who are on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. It means Microsoft is putting the ball in Sony’s court on doing the right thing: making as many cross-platform games as possible playable across both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
Think about the situation right now: you buy this year’s “Call of Duty” on Xbox One, and your buddy buys it on PlayStation 4. You want to play the game online together, but you can’t. It’s the same game, with the same online modes. The only reason you can’t play the game online together is because you’re on different platforms, and the platform-makers — Sony and Microsoft — don’t allow you to play games online with people on the rival’s platform.
That’s dumb. Microsoft is saying, “We agree. That is dumb. Enough.”, and enabling game makers who are developing games for both platforms — the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One — to allow online play across both. Rad!
Considering Microsoft and Sony’s long rivalry between Xbox and PlayStation, this is a pretty major philosophical shift. It’s a smart move from a company that’s putting up a solid fight against the PlayStation 4’s continued dominance in sales (over 36 million sold). Frankly, we’re excited to see what comes of this from Sony’s side; we reached out and haven’t heard back just yet.
In the meantime, Tech Insider favourite “Rocket League” is getting cross-platform support for online play between Xbox One and PC. Bizarrely, the game already has cross-platform support between PlayStation 4 and PC, just not between all three platforms. Rather, PlayStation 4 players can play with PC players, and Xbox One players can play with PC players, but Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players can’t play together. Which is just as silly as it sounds.
Maybe “Rocket League” will be the first game in a new, consumer-first paradigm where you can simply play games with your friends regardless of what platform they bought the game on! Fingers crossed, but maybe don’t bet on it.