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The makers of ‘Warcraft’ and ‘Diablo’ are planning to make ‘Diablo 3’ work across competing consoles: ‘It’s a question of when, not if’

Category: Home Tech
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Yet another huge game from a major game developer is going to let players across competing game platforms play together.

That game is “Diablo 3,” and it arrives on the Nintendo Switch on November 2.

That’s the seventh platform that “Diablo 3” will be available on, in addition to Mac, PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. And seven different platforms means seven different player bases, all playing “Diablo 3” in isolation. Why can’t they all just play together?

“It’s a question of when, not if,” a Blizzard Entertainment representative told Business Insider during a gameplay demo of “Diablo 3” on Nintendo Switch this week.

Though there’s nothing official to announce just yet, the folks behind “Diablo 3” are actively working with partners at Sony and Microsoft to enable cross-console play with “Diablo 3” on Switch.

“Diablo 3” in action.
Blizzard Entertainment

It’s a classic story in the world of video games: a multiplayer game is produced for competing platforms, and its players are unable to play together.

For years, the same versions of “Madden” and “Call of Duty” — and many others — have launched across competing platforms. But if you buy the new “Call of Duty” on PlayStation 4, you’re unable to play with a friend who bought the same game on Xbox One.

It’s a tremendous bummer, and there’s no good reason for the limitation.

Thankfully, it’s a standard that’s quickly evaporating as game players demand cross-platform support.

It all started with ‘Minecraft’

The Microsoft-owned blockbuster is available on pretty much everything that plays games, from consoles to phones to handhelds.

Microsoft, which makes the Xbox One and directly competes with Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Nintendo’s Switch, publishes “Minecraft” on Sony and Nintendo (and Apple and Google) platforms in addition to its own Xbox consoles.

More importantly, even though Microsoft owns “Minecraft,” the game can be played across competing devices. “Minecraft” players on Xbox One can join up with players on iPhone, Switch, Android, and PC/Mac — even players using a virtual-reality headset!

But Xbox One can’t play with PlayStation 4 and vice versa. That unfortunately remains the case.

The “Better Together” update to “Minecraft” enabled various versions of “Minecraft” across competing platforms to all play nice together. It was an industry-changing move.
Microsoft/Mojang

Though Sony has yet to give in with “Minecraft,” the electronics giant blinked when it came to the current biggest game in the world: “Fortnite”.

When “Fortnite” launched on Nintendo Switch earlier this year, it arrived with cross-platform support. Xbox One players could play with people on iPhone/iPad, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac — but not PlayStation 4. Worse still, none of the stuff that “Fortnite” players purchased on their PlayStation 4 — like the Battle Pass, or any gear — would show up on other platforms, even though “Fortnite” uses an Epic Games account across all platforms.

Sony refused to budge, which sparked outrage from players. It even spawned a hashtag: #BlameSony.

And PlayStation 4 owners weren’t the only ones upset — major game makers and publishers repeatedly, openly criticized Sony’s decision to silo the PlayStation 4 multiplayer experience from competing platforms.

“We cannot have a game that works one way across everywhere else except for on this one thing,” Pete Hines, a Bethesda Game Studios senior vice president, said in an interview regarding the launch of “The Elder Scrolls: Legends” on game consoles.

Blizzard is the latest major game publisher to move into cross-console play — a testament to the ongoing movement toward truly cross-platform gaming, where multiplayer games simply pull in all players across all platforms.

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