Microsoft is taking a step toward true “cross-platform play” by opening the doors for Xbox Live users to chat with their friends on PC, Android, iOS, and the Nintendo Switch.
At GDC in March, the company is slated to discuss a new software developer’s kit that’ll enable the different platforms to connect on Xbox Live.
The change promises to break down some of the barriers across online multiplayer communities. For instance, Xbox owners will be able to boast about their gaming achievements to their friends on the Nintendo Switch side, and vice-versa.
“Now Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger,” read a notice on the GDC. “Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK (Xbox Development Kit.)”
So far, Microsoft hasn’t officially commented on the announcement, which was originally spotted by a Twitter user before it was taken down. But if true, the upcoming developer’s kit may one day enable true cross-platform play across different gaming hardware.
Many titles only feature multiplayer with other gamers on the same system or one other platform. Fortnite is a rare exception. The shooter can drop players across all platforms—including console, PC, and mobile—into the same online game environment.
Microsoft’s announcement didn’t mention when this will actually arrive. The details only mention the company handling “social, communication, and multiplayer interactions across billions of screens.” Also missing from the announcement is Sony, the maker of the PlayStation 4, which has been more resistant to the idea of crossplay.
Still, the announcement signals that Microsoft wants to break away from the old business model of locking users into one gaming platform. Although the Xbox remains big business for the company, Microsoft will start piloting a Netflix-like streaming service for games called xCloud later this year. It means you’ll be able to play the latest games on any device, including PC, console, and smartphone, as long as you have a fast internet connection. Other companies such as Google, Nvidia, and Sony, have been working on similar services.
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