Few announcements in recent memory have carried the excitement of Microsoft’s announcement this Monday that they would be promoting cross play for developers between the Xbox One, Windows 10, and other consoles.
There has been an abundance of speculation and enthusiasm regarding this announcement, particularly concerning how this could affect gamers on the Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation4. With the announcement, Rocket League has been confirmed as the first game that will feature cross play between the Xbox One and PC.
Developers will have the opportunity to design games that feature cross play, allowing gamers to play with friends from other platforms. For example, a PS4 owner could play The Division with a gamer on Xbox One. This could potentially eliminate the need to purchase multiple consoles in order to play with friends.
However, absent from this entire discussion is how the Nintendo NX might fit in to all of this. While the Wii U has largely been considered a failure, the Nintendo NX promises an all new kind of gaming experience, though it is unclear exactly what this will be. Many gamers hope for some home/portable console hybrid.
Historically, Nintendo has not featured many of the most popular third-party online games, which could contribute to the absence of this console from the discussion. As it stands presently, Nintendo features a unique catalogue of exclusives, but it is presently not a major player in the console market.
With somewhat of a resurgence in arcade style multiplayer online games, like Rocket League, there is a clear opportunity for Nintendo to make cross platform play possible from launch. If the Nintendo NX is able to secure high quality third-party games as part of its catalogue, it could elevate the popularity of Nintendo’s next-gen console. If Nintendo is able to create a new kind of experience in console gaming with its new control system, this could make gamers consider very carefully which console(s) to purchase.
Certainly, the potential of cross platform play could open up some new games for play at launch with the new Nintendo NX, if Nintendo is able to get a solid launch lineup of games, something they have struggled to do in the past. If you are able to play some new cross platform AAA title at home and on the go, that would likely give Nintendo a competitive advantage.
Perhaps this could even be an opportunity for some Nintendo exclusives to be made available on other platforms. While Nintendo could retain its core titles, as Xbox and PlayStation have done, launching titles at a later date or even a select number simultaneously on other consoles could give Nintendo a boost on the game market, if it continues to suffer in console sales.
Another reason why the Nintendo NX might be omitted from these discussions is because little is still known about it. Since it is not out yet, and there is much still to be confirmed, it is not as immediately pressing as the other consoles. Yet, it is exciting to consider how the future of Nintendo and how the Nintendo NX could fit in with Microsoft’s announcement.
Much still is not known about the future viability of cross play. There is excitement regarding the integration of Xbox One and PC, there is even more excitement regarding the possibilities that this could open for developers, and more importantly for gamers, in regards to the PS4 and Xbox One.
Sony issued a statement to Gamespot on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, saying that “We would be happy to have the conversation with any publishers or developers who are interested in cross platform play.” However, they did not directly address the Xbox One and cross platform play with that system.
It would seem that from a financial standpoint, Sony has the least to gain in this. It has dominated console sales in this generation. Microsoft has made some significant moves to try to bolster sales through changes like increased backward compatibility. Nevertheless, factionalism remains strong and many gamers feel close ties to their console brand.
An additional concern could be how cross platform play could affect gamers on each system. Will one console have an advantage when playing against another? Will one console developer try to hold a competitive edge through some kind of accessory or hardware (e.g. the Xbox Elite Controller)?
From an economic and business perspective, there is much to consider for these companies. Yet, at the end of the day, cross play seems to be something that would improve the general quality of life for gamers. Will gaming companies seek to do what is best for their quarterly reports, or will they take this opportunity to build a stronger relationship with gamers through making gaming a little more fun for so many people? Nevertheless, the potential integration on Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation and PC makes for an excitement moment in gaming history. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
 Rob Crossley. Gamespot. http://www.gamespot.com/articles/sony-responds-to-microsofts-invite-to-connect-xbox/1100-6435688/