The landscape of the video game industry has changed rapidly in recent years, with successive generations of consoles giving way to ground-breaking new ways of enjoying games like cross-platform gaming.
One such feature has crept into the mainstream without much fanfare but contains concepts that could define the next generation well: cross-platform gaming.
What is Cross-Platform Gaming?
Cross-platform gaming is a broad term that has covered some different definitions concerning game releases over the last three decades.
Simply put, a cross-platform game is a title that can be played on more than one console or device.
A famous example might be Fortnite, the pioneering battle royale you can play on PCs, consoles and handheld devices.
Today, cross-platform can also cover the idea of cross-play, wherein players on different devices can play a multiplayer game on the same server – meaning an Xbox owner can enjoy a game with their PlayStation-owning friend.
History and Future of Cross-Platform Gaming
The Birth of Cross-Play
Initially, ‘cross-platform’ merely described games that had been ported to more than one console or device – an uncommon practice in the early days of consoles for many reasons.
While interconnected play between those consoles hadn’t yet been invented, programs that could run on different platforms were ground-breaking and rare, owing to the prohibitive cost of porting games to systems with unique architecture.
This process became cheaper and more common as generations and technology progressed – and today, cross-platform technology is such that you can play 90s hits like Doom on a fridge if you want to.
In the current generation of gaming, most games are produced for every platform – or at least, a majority of platforms. Titles only available on one console result from exclusivity deals with marketing that console.
However, like the Fortnite mentioned above, AAA games such as Apex: Legends and the Battlefield and Call of Duty series offer cross-play between consoles, a feature that has become a mainstay for multiplayer in the modern-day.
Not only is playing with gamers on rival devices a new norm for gaming but playing your specific game on different devices is also possible.
Bungie’s expansive looter-shooter Destiny 2 uses cloud-save technology to cross-save your character data, meaning you can access the same save from whichever console or PC you choose to play on.
Cloud saves are seen as the frontier for the next generation of gaming, with improvements to cloud tech streaming software leading to cloud gaming becoming a viable possibility.
Console streaming options are nothing new; Sony’s PS Now and Remote Play apps have been available since the last generation, letting you stream games from Sony servers to your PS4 and from your PS4 to your PC, respectively.
However, technological limitations meant the former could be lag-ridden and challenging to use.