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Steam could soon get expanded cross-play with Xbox

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Cross-play between Valve’s Steam platform and Microsoft’s Xbox One could be on the way. New beta files added to the Steam Beta Github repository were uncovered yesterday and were then posted to ResetEra (via WindowsCentral). The update is relatively large, but one line in particular suggests that Valve and Microsoft are working together to allow their platforms to communicate with one another.

Eight new files were uploaded to the Github yesterday, and nestled within one of them was a string relating to Steam networking identity. That allows the system to read your Steam ID, but directly below is another, optional string that reads “xbox_pairwise_id.” Unfortunately, none of the other files make any reference to Microsoft’s console.

It’s not completely clear, but that string would seem to provide the basis for Steam to at least recognise an Xbox Live ID. That could potentially pave the way for expanded cross-play between the platforms in future, putting even more pressure other companies to help Phil Spencer achieve his dream of industry-wide cross-play.

It’s worth noting that Valve and Microsoft do already have some minimal cross-play capabilities. Two Steam/Xbox Live titles, Killer Instinct and Rise of Nations, do allow players on either platform to play together. The changes to the code, however, point at further integration, which could make more expansive cross-play even easier to achieve in future.

Valve haven’t yet made any official comment on the new files, so I wouldn’t get too excited just yet – but I’ve reached out to them and will update as I know more. If this is an avenue the company is looking to explore, it could drive the conversation even further, and pile more pressure on Sony. The publisher has, so far, been wary of cross-play, but has opted to start with a beta phase for Fortnite. Epic’s battle royale has been a driving force for merging matchmaking queues across platforms, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Valve was attempting to follow suit.

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