Microsoft his about to open up its Xbox Live service in a big way.Credit: ShutterstockThe computing giant has created a new software development kit (SDK) that will allow game developers to integrate Live into their non-Xbox games, be they for PC, Switch, Android or iOS. This was discovered in the timetable for talks taking place at Game Developer Conference (GDC), first seen by Windows Central (via The Verge).
The lecture is intended to introduce developers to the software, and sell them on why they should include it in their games.
Xbox Live already had this cross-platform function in a limited way, as Minecraft players on Switch, iOS and Android players have to log into the service in order to play the game. Microsoft has owned Minecraft since 2014, but this new decision will take this existing formula to unprecedented numbers of games.
This news will not go down well with Sony, Xbox’s major rival with the PS4. Last year, Sony’s internal policy of resisting all efforts to open up the PlayStation to cross-platform play was laid bare and criticized heavily when it was found to be locking the accounts of Fortnite players to its platform, forcing them to start fresh ones if players wanted to swap to an Xbox or Switch.
Pressure from players and the press made the company reverse the decision in Fortnite’s case, but Xbox has since then aimed part of its marketing towards showing off how sociable its gaming experience can be, even with players on other machines.
Considering the potential benefits that might come to players because of this SDK, like more unified achievements, persistent friends and groups lists and in-game chat, Xbox has good reasons to be boastful.
This is somewhat similar to what Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, did recently with the release of its cross-platform multiplayer tools. Perhaps we will see more companies license their technology to smaller developers in the future. Increasing the technical abilities of companies with fewer resources, and providing a steady stream of income to more established brands seems like a theoretically ideal business relationship.