The main and eternal task of computer games has always been to unite different people in different parts of the world. They, like nothing else, are able to erase time and language boundaries, age differences and other things that create obstacles to communication between different parts of the population in different parts of the world. With the development of the gaming industry, the concept of Cross-Platform came into use, which today symbolises equality among gamers.
Cross-Platforming didn’t come out of nowhere. At first, game developers were stymied by the technical barriers of hardware. With time and rapid progress they disappeared and gamers with different preferences were able to spend time in virtual worlds together.
In 2023 cross-platform gained wild popularity, but we would call competitive gaming the harbinger of the cross-platform boom. That’s probably where cross-regional battles first originated. One of the brightest examples is League of Legends. The MOBA from Riot Games has lightning-fast won the love of gamers on all continents and of all ages, but not only gamers. It’s hard to deny that LoL has become part of the global betting market, without which it’s hard to imagine a modern competitive tie-in game. Dozens of sites with lol betting tips exist on the network for a reason. You can treat them as you wish, but to deny their influence on the development of the game in particular and the competitive scene in general is foolish.
However, the competitive ecosystem of LoL and other competitive games is a topic for a separate discussion. Although LoL can be called a “partial cross-platformer”, as the game has The International game with Xbox, today we want to focus on the concept of cross-platforming more globally, to see how it lives in 2023 and what are its prospects in the future.
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Technological advances that allow you to play across platforms
In ancient times, users could experience cross-platform play on devices from the same developer, such as the same consoles from Nintendo, Xbox, PS and so on. Such limitations were due to different device manufacturing technologies, but by 2023 the problems of accessibility of games on different devices are slowly fading into the background. This has been aided by the development of universal APi technologies, remote servers, stupendarised input methods and other technical aspects.
Among other things, cloud gameplay has become a “lifeline” for cross-platformness. While competitive games like the LoL mentioned at the beginning allowed gamers from different regions to play in one place, cloud gaming has improved the principle by allowing the same games to be played on different devices thanks to the processing of data on remote servers with high capacity.
Another important aspect of cross-platform remains the widespread popularity of different platforms for gaming. A modern gamer can easily find several consoles from different manufacturers (Switch and PS, Xbox and Steam Deck or all together), and in the early days of video games in the 80-90s it was a privilege. And all, again, thanks to a more stupendarised approach to development. What to say, if in 2023 mobile gamming is getting close to its “older” brothers in popularity, or even bypassing them in some regions.
However, technical solutions alone are not enough to ensure a comfortable game for gamers with different devices. It is necessary to constantly work on the so-called “balance”, which is not easy to achieve.
Balancing Fairness and Skill Matching
If the developers have partially solved the problem of accessibility of different games on different platforms, then the principles of equal play and balance in one game, but on different platforms still cause a storm of discussion among the community.
Universal APi with remote servers of cloud gaming is great, but it is difficult to change the base: PC gamers play on keyboard and mouse, and console gamers use controllers and gamepads. Such a seemingly small thing gives birth to raging problems in individual games. Especially in competitive shooters.
The thing is that console shooters often have an inbuilt field of view (FOV), which cuts down on the freer view on consoles, but instead consoles have an “aim-assist” feature that compensates for the lack of speed and accuracy of a controller compared to a mouse. In some games, this Aim Assist is elevated to an absolute, and it pits the two camps of players against each other.
Another important problem is the so-called “skill match”. Competitive games that support cross-platform play are forced to push players with different devices on the same servers. See the paragraph above and you’ll see why this often results in Twitter threads, hundreds of posts on Reddit and other constant “holy wars” between gamers.
And after all, balance and skill matching aren’t the only things cross platformers struggle with.
Challenges and Considerations
In addition to the challenges of balance and conformity of players on different platforms, there is another global problem of cross-platform games. This is the problem of exclusivity and accessibility of the games themselves.
In the gaming community there is a concept of “console wars”, which originated somewhere in the 10s. From the name it is clear that they are fought between the largest console manufacturers, that is, Microsoft with their Xbox and Sony with their PlayStation.
The subject of the dispute is exclusivity. Iron manufacturers are chasing profits and for this sometimes resorts to “dirty” methods. One such method is the exclusivity of specific games.
Often games released on Xbox are not available for Sony Playstation players and vice versa. This practice puts a stick in the wheel of regular gamers who want to enjoy the product on a platform that is convenient for them.
The war came to a head in 2023 after Microsoft and US antitrust litigation over the former’s purchase of Activision. Government functionaries, as well as the same Sony feared that Microsoft would create a monopoly and start a “dictatorship” in the market of cloud gaming, prohibiting the release of Activision games on third-party platforms.
Fortunately, Microsoft has pledged to continue releasing the most popular shooter on all platforms, but how it will be in the near future is not entirely clear. Hence the vagueness of the future of cross-platform play as a whole.
Future of Cross-Platform Play
Although the issue of exclusivity of games and differences in technological aspects of platforms is acute, in the future the boundaries between platforms will be erased. PlayStation and Xbox are already close in power, and mobile devices are “growing” the hardware for comfortable play, which will undoubtedly allow in the future to get gamers a more pleasant experience of co-operative play depending on the device used.
De-escalation in the “console wars” is also an argument in favour of a “bright” future. Increasingly, developers are coming to realise the lack of effectiveness of restricting access to their games across platforms and are releasing their titles to a wider audience. Take a look at Sony’s PC releases in recent years and see for yourself.
Cross-platform has been a natural process long before 2023 and it’s an area that will continue to evolve in the near future. It will be a long time before the boundaries between players with different preferences are erased, but that day will surely come.