There are PC games and there are console games, and nary the twain shall meet. That’s been the narrative so far, but change is afoot. At a Windows 10 press conference, Xbox chief Phil Spencer announced that the new platform is going to allow for cross-platform play between PCs and the Xbox One as part of what looks like a broader push to incorporate Microsoft’s gaming console into a more unified ecosystem.
“We think enabling people to play multiplayer games on Windows 10, across Xbox One and Windows 10, will unlock the potential of Xbox Live and grow social network that’s there today,” Spencer said.
Spencer has hinted at cross-platform play with the Xbox One in the past, but it’s looking like Fable: Legends is going to be the first game to actually make it work. It could be a big deal for games in the future: multiplayer games of all stripes live and die by their players, and cross-platform play can allow for larger communities on both Xbox One and PC. There’s no telling how many games will end up taking advantage of this in the future, but I could see Microsoft making a big push with competitive PC games like World of Tanks, already released on the Xbox 360. Imagine League of Legends ported to a console with its community and competition intact: it’s the sort of potential that actually feels, in a way, next-gen.
When we talk about Microsoft’s role in the video game world, we tend to focus on the Xbox One and the always-exciting rivalry with Sony. But that overlooks the tech giant’s arguably prime role in the industry, albeit one that it’s had a troubled relationship with going back to the first Xbox. But today’s announcement, alongside the announcement that the Xbox One will be able to stream on Windows 10 devices, points to a slightly more involved, and slightly more intentional, role in the video game world.
I’m interested to see how this will play out, console-war wise. My guess is that it will take a very long time for any of this to come into maturity, but Windows is one asset Sony just doesn’t have. The benefits, however, stretch past any potential sales boosts for Microsoft’s console. Video games in all their myriad forms are one of the most important ways people interact with their electronics on a daily basis, and Microsoft is smart to start making that a bigger focus.
Masiv / Jan 21, 2015