Whereas Sony still isn't certain on what its attitude toward cross-platform play should be, Microsoft is rumored to be expanding its support to even more devices moving forward.
Xbox Live Expansion
The session, titled Xbox Live: Growing & Engaging Your Gaming Community Across iOS, Android, Switch, Xbox, and PC, was first spotted by Avers from G4G Media on the Game Developers Conference schedule published online.
The description reveals that Jeffrey Shi, Xbox's principal program manager, and Ramsey Khadder, an Xbox software engineer, will serve as the presenters. It will target service engineers who are looking to expand their audience by using Xbox Live to handle multiplayer elements.
At the session, Shi and Khadder are expected to preview a new cross-platform software development kit that will let developers connect all players regardless of what system they're using. The implications of this SDK is huge, chief of them being that once cross-platform support comes to Xbox Live, players will be able to access all sorts of things, including achievements, friends list, and more, using several devices.
This should perhaps come as no surprise. Microsoft already boasts a number of games that support Xbox Live across various devices. Minecraft is one example. Xbox Live players can log into the game and access their data even when they're playing on an iPhone, an Android device, or Nintendo's hybrid console.
The thing is, Microsoft's current cross-platform policies seem only to apply to its own titles. However, this new session suggests it's ready for other developers to take advantage of it.
When Will It Arrive?
That being said, don't expect this functionality to arrive anytime soon. After all, developers must first acquaint themselves with the new SDK, and once they do learn the ropes, it will take some time before everything is settled and properly implemented.
In any case, this is certainly a huge move on Microsoft's part and only stands to benefit all players going forward. It's also a step forward in Microsoft's journey toward making games as a service.
It's worth noting that Microsoft's plans don't mention the PlayStation 4 at all. That could be because of Sony, which has been apprehensive of cross-platform play for such a long time now.
Make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.