The last time I checked, we live in an age where people can surf the Internet while flying in a plane at 30,000 feet. We have scientists creating robotic arms that are directly controlled by the human brain, and I can send photos of my cat all around the world within seconds of my snapping the picture. We obviously have a pretty good handle on technological communication.
Yet, with all of these incredible accomplishments, a player on an Xbox can't play a game with someone on a PC. And I'm finally tired of it. We know that it’s possible, so why hasn’t it happened yet?
Robert Hill, a Senior Producer at Trion Worlds who is working on Defiance, told Dealspwn that the reason behind the lack of cross-platform play has more to do with the rivalry between Microsoft and Sony than with any actual hardware impediments.
“There will not be cross-platform play,” Hill says. “We do it right now. You can see all the PS3s and PCs. They are playing on the same server. Every day, we play Xbox 360, PS3, and PC together. Unfortunately, at launch, Microsoft and Sony aren’t really friendly with each other so they won’t let us do that cross-platform play.”
I completely understand why companies like Microsoft and Sony would want to keep their platforms strictly controlled. It makes patching and updating simple. Plus, it forces social groups to lock themselves into a single company’s system. But if developers were really interested in supporting the gaming community, and not just themselves, they’d lift the quarantine.
The thing is, we know it's possible. It was almost a feature in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and DC Universe Online was rumored to support cross-platform play, but both games had the feature removed prior to launch. Portal 2, on the other hand, happily supports cross-platform play between the PS3, PC, and MAC environments. However, the Xbox 360 was left in the dust, because Microsoft refuses to allow Xbox LIVE to interact with anyone. Microsoft is like an overprotective mother, and Xbox LIVE is like that weird kid in school who doesn’t quite understand how to make friends.
However, if everyone rolled out cross-platform play, it would force console developers to focus on first-party titles and proprietary services. Systems would live and die on their own merit, and users wouldn’t be locked into a system for life.
Obviously, this would be much better for the gamers than for the developers, and considering that the developers hold all the cards, it’ll probably be a while before we see genuine cross-platform play, especially from Microsoft.
I guess we won’t be resolving the age-old Keyboard/Mouse vs. Gamepad debate any time soon.
Date: December 18, 2012