Cross-play capability might have seemed like an alien concept during the heyday of the original PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Back then, you chose your console camp and stuck it out until developers stopped putting out games for it. If you wanted to enjoy multiplayer functionality, you’d need a willing friend and a spare controller.
However, all that has changed in recent years. Even when you take inflation into account, console hardware is more affordable than ever before. Unsurprisingly, around 25% of gamers regularly use more than one platform. Online connectivity has also made it easier for gamers to connect and play against each other, regardless of what device they’re using.
Cross-Play Gaming Explained
Long gone are the days when younger gamers fought it out on the playground about which console was better. While most gamers still have unshakable loyalty to their go-to console manufacturers, there is less of a console war culture clash around today. In fact, a significant number of games are released across multiple platforms, even if they don’t land on every console at the same time.
With cross-play titles, anyone who is connected to the internet can play against any other player, no matter what platform they’re using. It’s particularly useful for MMORPG games or first-person shooters with multiplayer campaigns. While cross-play compatibility makes it possible for friends to connect in the virtual space, it also makes multiplayer games more accessible to everyone.
This erases a common frustration in the gaming sector: the inability to play the same game with or against people on different platforms. There weren’t technical problems in the past – just a lack of willingness between the brands.
How Cross-Play Titles Benefit Everyday Gamers
For gamers living alone, there’s no need to leave the console untouched, nor to limit their activities to a deck of cards while awaiting company. In today’s connected digital era, a plethora of players immerse themselves in online gaming, ensuring that regardless of global location or time, there is always someone with whom to engage in play.
The introduction of cross-play titles notably expands the pool of potential gaming companions. Participating in a relatively popular title typically ensures that there is minimal wait before being assigned to a team or matched against a rival player.
Why Cross-Play Gaming isn’t Always Perfect
Cross-play gaming has many advantages, but there are also issues. One of the main problems is that you can’t always guarantee a balanced game. A PC user with a high-powered machine and technical keyboard is in a stronger position than a console player using a standard joystick. For co-op games that require considerable skill, a team made up of PC gamers is almost always going to come out on top.
Although cross-play gaming has the potential to be more accessible and inclusive, gaming cultures vary between platforms. Again, PC gamers are usually cut from a different cloth than those who fire up a console to play their favorite titles. While most games employ sophisticated matchmaking techniques to assign players to teams, it’s easy to end up with a relative rookie holding back an overpowered team.
Many developers are taking note of cross-play statistics and changing the way they create games. In the past, games tended to be developed for a single platform before a successful title was ported to PCs or another console later. However, this approach meant that some players were forced to wait many months for their chance to play a chart-topping title. Even if games were successfully ported to other platforms, there was no assurance that they’d be anything like the original, with many ports falling far short of expectations.
Today, cross-platform game development is considered the ideal. Although the overall process may take slightly longer, it ensures that games can reach as many people as possible once they’re finally released to the market.
It also brings major cost-saving benefits to developers. It’s a cheaper approach to development in the long run, and there’s no need to invest in multiple rounds of marketing when a game is released to a new platform. Moreover, it prioritizes the gameplay experience, making the best of cross-play potential.