A few weeks ago, we talked about how Microsoft wants to improve the interoperability between the Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs. At the very least, games built using Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform can be developed for both Xbox and Windows at the same time, and part of that perk means that many (or all) of these games will allow gamers to play against (or with) each other cross-platform.
Well, going forward, things could be improving in that regard. At the ongoing Game Developers Conference, Microsoft announced that it's aiming to pave the way for cross-network play in games released for both the Xbox One and Windows and other consoles (namely the PlayStation 4). "This means players on Xbox One and Windows 10 using Xbox Live will be able to play with players on different online multiplayer networks – including other console and PC networks," writes ID@Xbox Director Chris Charla.
Rocket League will become cross-platform on the Xbox One soon
There's a big catch here: developers need to opt in for this kind of support. Interestingly, a great recent example of this kind of functionality is with Psyonix's Rocket League. When first released, PC gamers could play against PlayStation 4 gamers, and when the Xbox One version of the game was eventually announced, it was kind of shocking to learn that it couldn't join in in that cross-platform fun. Well, this blog post remedies that, adding, "We’re thrilled to confirm that Psyonix’s Rocket League will be one of the first games to take advantage of this new capability by enabling cross-network play between Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation for other networks to participate as well."
This is a rather amazing turn of events. In a few short months, Xbox One gamers were given the announcement that Rocket League would be hitting their platform of choice, albeit with the caveat of no cross-platform play. Now, not long after the game's release on the Xbox, we learn that cross-platform play will be making it in after all. Again, this kind of functionality needs the developer to go out of their way to implement it, so hopefully many will. As it will immediately stand, only Xbox One gamers can play against PC gamers, but Psyonix could release an update to treat all three platforms as one.
For those not familiar with Rocket League, it's an incredibly fun game, though when a game puts you on a soccer field behind the wheel of a vehicle, it's pretty much impossible to not be awesome.
We'd be remiss to not mention some potential issues here. A lot of this Xbox to PC interoperability involves UWP, or Universal Windows Platform. This is something that industry veteran Tim Sweeney came out raging about, and for what seems like great reasons. It feels like we can't have it all here: it's either awesome interoperability with a severely locked-down platform, or keeping things as they were, with virtually no cross-platform play. Why do the choices always have to be so difficult?