Microsoft Refusing to Work with Others Is Shooting Them in the Foot

Mar 4, 2016


We’re going to be focusing on Sony’s PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One for this article.
Long ago, exclusives were what decided which system you bought. If you wanted Halo, you bought an Xbox, if you wanted Mario Kart, you bought a GameCube, etcetera. Nowadays, several of the big systems work together to the extent that most large releases are launched simultaneously (or within a few days) on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. There are certainly still a few exclusives, but in most cases if you can find a game on PS4, you can find it on Xbox One, and vice versa. These consoles still have multiplayer independently of each other, but you were able to at least experience the same content on both systems. Now, however, Sony has introduced the curveball of cross-platform playing experience.

Woah, Cross-Platform? The technology just isn’t there!

Well, yes, it is. Despite most games having closed platform playing for most of our knowledge of consoles, recently Sony has begun to start working with PC users in order to have games in which you can log on from a computer or a PS4 and be able to face the same opponents, regardless of console. They are still new in the cross-platform field, and there are certainly a lot of bugs to be ironed out, but they are working towards a seamless integration between the two systems.

Well that’s cool, what games can I play?

As of now, there aren’t a ton of games that are available for cross-platform play. The two biggest (and two of the only) ones are Rocket League and Final Fantasy XIV. Rocket League’s cross-platform is Rocket Leagueseamless for actual playing, but unfortunately it has issues such as neither platform being able to hear what the other says into their mics, or see what they type (you can see the quick-chat though). You also are unable to actually party up with a friend cross-console, although you may meet them in the arena, on your team or against you!
Final Fantasy XIV has a much more flushed out cross-platform interface, allowing users on PS4 and PC to play together in all of the same ways. You can also choose to activate your account on the other platform (for a fee), allowing you to play from either PC or PS4 at your leisure. It truly is cross-platform in all senses.

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That isn’t a ton of games…

True! However, there are a lot more on their way. Popular MOBA Smite has not only announced that they are coming to consoles, but they are currently in Alpha on PS4! They have announced that when the game is properly released, you will be able to move your prior characters from PC to PS4 if you choose.
Another MOBA, Paragon, is set to release later in the year, and in an interview they said that they would be striving for a release that incorporates complete cross-platform functionality. This means that you would be able to log in on your PC, play a game, log off, log in on your PS4, and keep playing the same account with the same characters and history. They said that they are working on cross-platform partying, as well as guilds, in order to make everything perfectly seamless between the two platforms.

Image from the Paragon Gameplay Trailer
Image from the Paragon Gameplay Trailer

Awesome! So where does Microsoft come in?

It doesn’t. Microsoft has refused entirely to work with cross-platform technology. Rocket League is a good example of this. Rocket League players can play on both PS4 and PC and be matched together. Rocket League was very recently launched on the Xbox One, but those players cannot join their PC and PS4 brethren, they are stuck on their own closed circuit platform. Rocket League announced this week that they will be having a large tournament over the next few months, and that Xbox players will be excluded from entering because they simply cannot play with anyone from the other platforms.
Smite is also encountering issues, as they have informed fans in an AMA on Reddit that you are welcome to transfer your account from PC to PS4, but not to Xbox One or from Xbox One to PS4, simply because of Microsoft’s cross-platform denial. Some games, like Final Fantasy XIV, simply avoided release entirely on the Xbox One because of the inability to play on the same servers.

What does this mean going forward?

As we can clearly see from these games publicly pushing, and many others pushing behind the scenes, cross-platform play is a huge selling feature of modern games. Sony has a big jump on it at the moment, already incorporating it in two large games, with plans to add many more in the future. If Microsoft doesn’t come around and join in the fun, they may find themselves left behind. And since the Xbox One hasn’t been doing nearly as well as the PS4 anyway (with estimates having the PS4 selling more than double the units than the Xbox One), Microsoft certainly doesn’t need to look for new reasons for people to steer clear of their system.

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Stephen Draper
Stephen has a degree in English from Brock University. He grew up playing video games and card games, always having an affection for strategy. He picked up League of Legends in early Season One and has since achieved Diamond rank multiple times. He also picked up Hearthstone in Beta and has since achieved Legend consistently. When he isn’t reading, writing, or gaming, he’s probably watching other people game.
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