The future is now. More and more, we’re seeing companies offer cross-buy options for games. They recognize that someone with one platform in a company’s family might own another. The practice is most common on Sony’s consoles, with people often able to play games on their PlayStation 3s, PlayStation 4s, and PlayStation Vitas, but sometimes we’ll see Microsoft and Nintendo get in on it. In fact, Microsoft launched its own Play Anywhere campaign which has… floundered, to say the least.
In fact, the whole reason we’re talking about cross-buy today is because of a Microsoft Play Anywhere update. Yooka-Laylee, a Kickstarter darling from former Rare developers who’ve now formed Playtonic, was initially announced as a Play Anywhere participant. This means people who bought an Xbox One digital copy would get one for Windows 10, and vice versa. Sounds good, right? Well, here we are the week the game is supposed to debut and suddenly all that’s gone! It’s no longer a Play Anywhere game and the Windows 10 version doesn’t even have a release date. Bad news, right? Well, it’s indicative of an even greater problem.
Microsoft isn’t managing its Play Anywhere program well. Do you know how many games are part of this program at this very moment? There are exactly 12 immediately available. How long as the initiative been running? It’s been on since E3 2016. That’s almost one year, and there are barely any titles to show for it. Do you know how many PlayStation 4/PlayStation Vita cross-buy games there are? Well, if you check the PlayStation Store you’ll find 137 matches. That’s some disparity right there.
Do you know which games are part of the Play Anywhere initiative? Only some of the most obvious first-party and a few less exciting indie titles. Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Halo Wars 2, and Killer Instinct are some of the biggest name games. Resident Evil 7 is the only third-party, AAA title available. The rest are ones that, while that may be interesting, you wouldn’t necessarily need on more than one platform, like Fallout Shelter, Silence: The Whispered World 2, or ReCore. It’s disappointing.
As are the omissions of games that should have been Play Anywhere titles. Rise of the Tomb Raider is available on both the Xbox One and Windows 10. It isn’t a Play Anywhere title. Quantum Break is another game out on both systems, a first-party one no less, yet inexplicably excluded. These two big name games would have been a big deal for the program, but they’re absent. Even games that are supposed to be part of the program, like ARK: Survival Evolved, are missing in action.
Then, there are the games that are supposed to be eventually part of Play Anywhere. Including the aforementioned ARK: Survival Evolved, there are seven prospects. These same seven prospects have been on this list for months now, with no updates or changes. Many of these are games trapped in prolonged development cycles. Cuphead is hopefully, apparently, supposedly going to appear in mid-2017. Who knows what’s going on with Crackdown 3. I know E3 2017 is coming up, and with it multiple announcements, but shouldn’t we have seen some change to this list in the last half a year? Shouldn’t it have continually been growing?
Microsoft is great about getting backwards compatible Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One. It’s certainly putting a lot of effort into Project Scorpio. But Play Anywhere is being neglected. This is a program that should be encouraged and thriving. It should be heralded as a triumph of the systems and used to get people to buy Xbox One and Windows 10 games and devices. Instead, it’s being left to rot with no noticeable advancements or improvements made, and that’s a shame.