This year we saw Fortnite become available with cross-platform play on all the major gaming platforms. I honestly never imagined I would see this happen so soon. Now more companies will be asking their partners if they can implement this for their game too. It just shows the influence Fortnite has on the gaming industry.
I understand the reason why companies are cautious with cross-play. The revenue companies can make from their own marketplace is just too significant to ignore. Just look at how Fortnite itself, a game that is on so many different platforms, is not even on Google Play or Steam since it prefers it’s own marketplace.
Money isn’t the only concern with allowing cross-play since many of these platforms are quite different. Playing games on a PC, touchscreen mobile device, and home consoles can be significantly different experiences. Overwatch is balanced differently on home consoles and PC because it takes into account the player's input device.
Players at the end of the day though just want choice. Many gamers will want to just play with just players playing on the same platform so they can have that competitive and fair experience. Others won’t care and just want to play with all their friends. Giving them the choice will create for a better online experience.
Keeping online communities to their respective platforms made sense at one point. Developing for multiple platforms sometimes is more trouble then it is worth. The difference now though is so many more devices are capable of playing the games we love. With so many more devices capable of playing games we have seen the tremendous growth of new gamers.
Not all games should jump into cross-play right away. Developers still need to maintain good relations with all the different platforms and balance between all partner needs. There are also design issues that certain games will find difficult solving. Games need to take everything into account to see if cross-play is right for them.
So many game developers will love cross-play because they want as many gamers playing together as possible. Developers would be happy knowing that their players base aren’t restricted to just one online community.
This progress in cross-platform play is a great step for online games. I don’t think that many gamers will actually take advantage of the games with cross-play. What I see as more important is that the different platforms are open to working together which is great for all gamers.