Chris Charla, director of Microsoft’s independent game publishing program ID@Xbox, revealed via a post on Xbox Wire that the company will be allowing multi-platform video games to implement the ability for players “to play with players on different online multiplayer networks – including other console and PC networks.”
It’s an extension of Microsoft’s policy of having online play between Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, such as with “Gears Of War Ultimate Edition.” But “cross-network play” would be a much bigger step for the the company and the industry, because gaming networks like Xbox Live and PlayStation Network exist to serve closed platforms.
Charla’s announcement of the new policy doesn’t necessarily mean Xbox One owners will be playing “Destiny” with their friends who have the PlayStation 4 version of the game any time soon. The policy, as stated, is just an allowance for game developers to include cross-network online play in their games.
The first game to take advantage of the allowance is car soccer title “Rocket League,” which was recently released on Xbox One and has been available on PC via the Steam platform as well as PlayStation 4 since July. “Rocket League” players on Xbox One will be able to play matches against players on PC and vice versa.
Charla also issued “an open invitation for other networks to participate as well,” a statement clearly aimed at Sony’s PlayStation Network, as it’s very common for games to be released for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
PlayStation 4 players have also already had the ability to play against PC players in “Rocket League,” and a few other past games, like “Portal 2,” had similar functionality. “Rocket League” developer Psyonix confirmed that Xbox vs PC play will be implemented “later this spring.”
But without Sony’s consent, Xbox One players won’t be able to play PlayStation 4 players in “Rocket League.” It’s likely Microsoft’s policy shift is aimed primarily at the PC for now, as the company is eager to gain a greater foothold on the platform that is dominated by Valve’s Steam and EA’s Origin clients, as the vast majority of players on PC use some version of the Windows operating system.