Xbox allows cross-platform multiplayer with PlayStation/Steam

(Image Credit: iStockPhoto/Cesar Okada)

Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network simplified online multiplayer for both developers and gamers, but also created division in gamers as their online services locked them out from playing with friends who chose to invest their money in a different platform. Gamers have dreamt of a day when the wall between platforms came tumbling down, and Microsoft has decided it wants to be the wrecking ball. 

Announced by Chris Charla, Director of ID@Xbox, he wrote in a letter: "In addition to natively supporting cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 games that use Xbox Live, we’re enabling developers to support cross-network play as well. 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." 

With the push for Xbox games on Windows 10, it comes as little surprise the Xbox team is allowing cross-play between the platforms (although it's noteworthy that Microsoft has opened its arms to Valve-owned PC gaming network juggernaut Steam.) The real shock comes with the announcement that Microsoft will support game developers if they wish to build online multiplayer with "other console" networks like the PlayStation Network. 

Psyonix, developer of hit title Rocket League, announced it will be among the first to make use of this new functionality in an update due this Spring to enable cross-platform multiplayer gaming between PC and Xbox One players. Furthermore, the developer teases information regarding other platforms soon. 

"To say that the team here at Psyonix is both honored and excited to have Rocket League as the first cross-network game is a massive understatement. Cross-network play has been the number-one most requested feature our community has asked for since Rocket League was first announced on Xbox One, and now that we are able to pursue complete online unity on all platforms, today’s announcement is a dream come true," Psyonix wrote in a post. 

Microsoft has taken an important first step in changing its rules to allow cross-network play, but now the pressure is on the other network players – Sony in particular – to step-up and change their own stance to ensure that gamers can play with their friends no matter what platform they choose. Sometimes it's better to feature an unadulterated reaction of the community, and the first person I told summed it up with: "This is huge, not just for Rocket League, but for gaming as a whole. Well done Microsoft." 

Well done indeed, this has been a long time coming.

Developers will also welcome news of the support for 'MonoGame' which is an open solution to enable games built using Microsoft's XNA framework – popular in the Xbox 360 days – to run on the Xbox One. In his letter, Charla wrote: "This news is a little overdue, but we’re stoked that MonoGame support will be coming to Xbox One soon, thanks to Tom Spilman and our friends at Sickhead Games." 

He continued: "We’re really excited to be able to welcome MonoGame with a bang, thanks to a partnership with another developer named Tom – Tom Happ. I met Tom at an indie dev event shortly after we confirmed that XNA was not natively supported on Xbox One, and I remember being super bummed that his game was not going to be able to come to Xbox One straight away. Well, today I’m stoked to be able to say that Tom’s game, Axiom Verge, is going to be one of the first games shipping on Xbox One using MonoGame. And hopefully that’s just the first of many!"

Update 16/04: Sony has responded to Microsoft's invite with the carefully-worded statement "PlayStation has been supporting cross-platform play between PC on several software titles starting with Final Fantasy 11 on PS2 and PC back in 2002. We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play."

What do you think about Microsoft's decision to allow cross-network multiplayer? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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