On 12 June 1987, President Ronald Reagan famously said, “Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” Over 30 years later, and it feels a lot like the games industry is calling for something similar: an end to hostilities between platforms and the beginning of open borders for multiplayer gamers. We’re beginning to see the early beneficiaries of it through Rocket League, Minecraft and even Fortnite being playable across PC, console and smartphone, but more can be done.
“Fortnite and PUBG recently made a huge impact on gaming by having cross-platform experiences that spanned the PC, consoles and mobile,” says Overwatch director Jeff Kaplan. “Cross-platform experiences, especially in social games or games with persistent progression, are very exciting.”
The only real barrier to this thus far appears to be Sony, which prefers to keep cross play limited to PS4 with PC and not much else. Why won’t it support playing with Xbox and Switch players? Perhaps because it’s the market leader, and doesn’t feel the need to give its competitors a helping hand. Cynical perhaps, but an understandable position if that’s the case. We know it’s possible though, as Epic accidentally connected PS4 and Xbox One players on Fortnite for a few hours in October 2017.
“I hope to see platforms open up and embrace the way players want to play more,” adds Kaplan. “The technology and desire exists. I believe it would be beneficial to everyone to open platforms up more to bring players together. So I’m definitely hoping for more cross-platform opportunities.”