The future is now. Companies are breaking the walls down. Cross-play is on its way to becoming relatively commonplace. Not every game offers it yet. Fortnite, Minecraft, and Rocket League all have it and are paving the way. Still, a future is here. Companies are accepting it. It means that it might be time for companies to start considering another option to break down the walls and invite people into new areas. Now is a good time to start talking cross-progression.
For those who aren't aware of what it is, cross-progression is when a game allows you to carry over your progress and content across consoles. Paladins is a good example. This is a shooter available on the Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. If someone started playing on, say, the PC version first, they could then log into their account on the Switch and continue where they left off. All of their items would be there. It is a very cool prospect, and one we would hope for in our modern world.
I mean, it is not like other games have not dabbled in it or toyed with the idea. Warframe is one such example. When the Switch version appeared in November 2018, existing PC players had an option to migrate their account to the console. It was a sort of cross-progression, but was a one-way trip. Due to the difference in builds, it would be possible to backtrack to an older build, like the Switch, but someone on the Switch couldn't move forward to a more recent build.
We also have games like Overwatch, where developers have considered cross-progression. Jeff Kaplan, who is the game's director over at Blizzard, said in April 2018 that the company was considering implementing. He noted that the team "would very like to explore" the concept, even though it would "very challenging for many reasons." And really, it makes sense. The game is the same on every platform. It is not like there are system-specific skins that are a big deal. Cross-progression here would involve the game recognizing your account on all platforms, maintaining your stats and level, and letting you have access to all your skins. The stats may get messed up, due to the differences between controller controls versus mouse and keyboard control schemes. Still, it seems plausible.
Such a thing would not be so easy with other games. Rocket League and Fortnite are two examples. Both of these are games with platform-exclusive costumes. Also, the control scheme differences might have more drastic differences, due to the different nuances present here. Someone might be more accustomed to certain building layouts or know how to make the most of air-time on a specific system. Essentially, things could get trickier due to different restrictions.
But, we also have to think of the era we are entering. Streaming is becoming a more common prospect. Having some sort of progression that allows us to carry things over from one platform to another would be great for that. We also see people double dipping and having a PC and a console, or maybe a home console and a Switch for portable play. If someone really loves a game, like Stardew Valley, or a title is free-to-play, like Smite, they will have it and commit to it on multiple platforms. Playing to that will get more people to double dip.
Companies need to start taking not only cross-play seriously, but also make cross-progression happen. Getting to have thing carry over on every platform would be a big deal. It would encourage people to keep playing games on multiple systems. It would help companies make more money. It would make it easier to keep going with games you love anywhere. While it could be difficult to implement, there are no downsides.