Microsoft has taken one step toward all online gamers playing nice together.
Forza Horizon 4 running on Android via Project xCloud. Credit: Microsoft
Thursday (March 14), the company behind Xbox revealed that it’s opening up its Xbox Live online gaming network to Android and iOS mobile platforms. This is according to statements made in a briefing this week, as reported by The Verge.
The change spells out a future where more games will support online cross-play between mobile gamers and Xbox gamers.
Also cross-linked between the gaming platforms with supported Xbox Live games would be achievements, Gamerscore, hero stats, friend lists, clubs, and family settings.
As for which games and to what extent those games will support mobile-Xbox cross-play will be determined by the companies building the titles. Microsoft is merely opening up its Xbox Live SDK tools here to allow for developers to build in the support if they so choose.
Of course, certain games today already do mobile-console online multiplayer. Fortnite is one of the largest titles to have cross-play built-in, with PS4 and Xbox One gamers able to mix it up with iOS, Android, Mac and PC gamers. Microsoft's own Minecraft supports cross-play between Xbox One, Switch and PC players, as does the popular multiplayer game Rocket League.
Microsoft gaming cloud chief Kareem Choudhry did mention at the Xbox Live briefing that opening up Xbox Live to Nintendo Switch and PS4 games was possible down the road, with the former being a bit more probable than the latter, The Verge reports.
“Our goal is to really unite the 2 billion gamers of the world and we’re big fans of our Xbox Live community, but we don’t have any specific announcements as it relates to Switch today,” Choudhry said.
“If you’ve watched us for the past few years, we’ve taken a very inclusive approach.”
Microsoft's broadening of Xbox Live is a natural next step for the company, which continues to focus just as much on services as it does on hardware. The company's Xbox Game Pass service provides a Netflix-style library of games for a monthly fee, and its already laying the groundwork for cloud-based, play-anywhere gaming with its Project xCloud initiative. These features will all likely be a major component of the next generation of Xbox, which could be here as soon as 2020.