Microsoft are enabling developers to support cross-network play, potentially opening the door for Steam, Origin, GOG and even other consoles to allow their players to join online games with Xbox Live subscribers on Xbox One.
I wonder how many of the games in our list of upcoming PC games will take advantage of this new functionality.
It made sense for Microsoft to allow for online interaction between Windows 10 and Xbox Live, but this cross-network move looks to benefit all players, regardless of platform.
"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," writes Chris Charla, director of [email protected] "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.
"Of course, it’s up to game developers to support this feature, and Xbox Live players will always have the option of choosing to play only with other Xbox Live players. We’re thrilled to confirm that Psyonix’s Rocket League will be one of the first games to take advantage of this new capability by enabling cross-network play between Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation for other networks to participate as well."
This follows Microsoft's reveal at GDC 2015 that they were offering developers the option to allow cross-buy across Xbox One and PC, meaning players who buy the game for one platform will get a code for another. Obviously this was also down to the developers, which is probably why we haven't seen much of it. Hopefully more developers and network owners opt in for this cross-network play, though, as surely it will only enrich the player-base and increase the longevity of many online games.
Imagine if EA decided to strike a deal with Microsoft, bringing Origin to Xbox One. They could make it so you can buy digital games once and own them on both platforms, each game having the option to communicate across networks, letting you play online with family members and friends easily in the same household - one on the PC and one on the Xbox One. It could be massive. Probably best to not try take on PC FPS players with an Xbox One pad, mind. But that's why Psyonix's carball sleeper hit, Rocket League, seems like the perfect game to showcase the new functionality.
"To say that the team here at Psyonix is both honored and excited to have Rocket League as the first cross-network game is a massive understatement," says a post on Rocket League's official site. "Cross-network play has been the number-one most requested feature our community has asked for since Rocket League was first announced on Xbox One, and now that we are able to pursue complete online unity on all platforms, today’s announcement is a dream come true."
Cross-network play is coming to Xbox One and PC for Rocket League this Spring, and more information on platforms is "coming soon".