Microsoft is throwing open the doors for cross-play initiatives and says it's willing to work with Sony, Nintendo and even Valve to unite multiplayer gaming...but the company's appeals may largely fall on deaf ears.
Since the Xbox brand is no longer console-based but now a service that bridges both Windows 10-powered PCs and Xbox One consoles, Microsoft is in a strategic position to gain the most from cross-play multiplayer. This paradigm shift has many layers of tactical advantage, and is the main reason why the company is so strongly embracing cross-play--I have no doubt key executives, who are gamers, want to see platforms united for the good of consumers, but the good of the company comes first. I've highlighted many reasons why Sony is avoiding cross-play, and none of them have to do with being a villain or stifling player fun. Sony is simply putting the PlayStation 4 as the nexus of its entertainment ecosystem, and exclusivity has paid off big time so far.
In a recent interview with VG247, Xbox division VP Mike Ybarra affirmed this cross-play push is about unifying gamers so they can enjoy experiences with their friends, even if they own different systems. "It's more about gamer choice, more about making an IP on our platform last longer. I don't care about where they play, I just want people to have fun playing games because that's just better for the industry," Mr. Ybarra said.
"The demands of consumers and developers have changed. People are like, 'we want all of our gamers in one multiplayer pool together, playing,'" the VP continued, citing a very real discussion point across all gamers. Players typically own more than one gaming system and stick to a particular platform that has a core group of friends, but users often say they'd like to play with their PS4 friends on Xbox and vice versa.
"We totally agree with that. If any developer wants to have that conversation... Valve is right down the street from us, Nintendo is too - they're like a block from us. We're having these discussions as developers come up, and we're completely open to that."