As console owners, we’ve all been there. You own an Xbox, your friend owns a PlayStation, you’re both playing the same game, but you can’t play it together because the game doesn’t support cross-platform play, also known as cross-play. Or, you’re playing with the same group of people only for it to disband when new systems launch because some members switch allegiances.
I know too well the pain the console wars have inflicted. When the last generation of hardware was released, I watched my NHL club team fall apart as half the squad defected from PlayStation to Xbox. Years of work, down the drain, all because platform preferences changed.
Now, it doesn’t need to be this way.
More and more games are offering full or at least partial cross-play support. Own a PS5 and want to play Call of Duty or Mortal Kombat with somebody on a Series X? No problem. Sitting on your couch with a Switch in your hands and want to mix it up with somebody rocking Fortnite or Rocket League on a full gaming PC setup? Go for it.
It’s 2021. This should be a thing for every game going forward — certainly the biggest franchises. And more often than not, it can be added after the fact, as we’ll see with Destiny 2 later this year.
So this one is for all my fellow plebeians out there who don’t own every piece of hardware known to man. What multiplayer titles are you most eagerly awaiting to get cross-play? Here are some of my top choices.
Grand Theft Auto V
With over 140 million copies sold worldwide and counting, you could argue there are plenty of people playing GTA V on any given platform, perhaps dampening demand for cross-play somewhat. Surely by now you must be able find somebody to play the game with.
With no announcement about a release date for GTA VI, cross-play would certainly be a welcome addition to V’s online experience.
Unfortunately, Rockstar hasn’t said anything about opening up GTA V (or Red Dead Redemption for that matter) to cross-play thus far. Perhaps it’s a question of diminishing returns with the game so deep in its life cycle, or maybe an issue with PC players using mods that aren’t supported on console versions. Whatever the case, it seems we might have to wait for the next GTA to finally get cross-play.
Madden, NBA 2K, pretty much any sports title
My own personal tale of woe aside, I find it more than a little curious that neither EA Sports nor Take-Two Interactive have introduced cross-play. After all, titles like Madden, 2K and FIFA are typically most interesting when players are going head-to-head, but huge swaths of gamers are currently forbidden from challenging their friends online.
Cross-play might even prove to be a driver of sales for yearly updates, which some fans might skip. Speaking anecdotally, I lost interest in buying annual installments of NHL once our club team met its demise, otherwise chances are high I would still be purchasing the new edition on its release date to this day.
Perhaps Sony’s MLB The Show 21, which is hopping over to Xbox for the first time and will support cross-play, will open the floodgates, and EA and Take-Two will follow their lead. The real question though: why wait?
There’s no denying the popularity of Overwatch has waned a bit with time. At least some of that can probably be traced to it being a tough game to pick up and play, and tougher still when you don’t have a decent supporting cast. I know for a fact there are people who aren’t booting it up anymore because they don’t feel like getting their asses kicked.
This is a situation where opening the game up to cross-play could lead to some renewed interest as players find team options that were previously unavailable to them. And while Blizzard is undoubtedly focusing much of its efforts on Overwatch 2, it might not be a terrible idea to try to breathe a little life back into the original.
Even if you feel Overwatch is as strong as ever, there’s no downside to creating an even more competitive landscape while players wait indefinitely for the sequel.
Just getting Fall Guys to Xbox and Switch is a step in the right direction. Once the work there is done, Mediatonic should immediately move to allow players to race through obstacles courses and boot opponents off of high platforms regardless of what system they’re using.
This seems like a no-brainer. Fall Guys is still relatively new, having only dropped for PC and PS4 in August, meaning its popularity should still be on the rise. That means cross-play could still influence gamers who prefer to be early adopters. And with it being such a family-friendly title, there’s a chance to reach a wider audience than many titles.
Players of a lot of the other titles mentioned are more or less used to not having cross-play, so adding it isn’t necessarily a game-changer. In Fall Guys’ case, not having it feels like it would be a real missed opportunity.
Monster Hunter World
In some regards, this is one of the most frustrating titles to lack cross-platform support. Not only can Monster Hunter World be difficult to complete by yourself, but even a potential workaround to true crossplay — the ability to move save files from one system to the other — did not make the cut here.
It’s not as if players are forced to go it alone if they can’t play with their friends. The quest board provides a means to request help if stuck, but the multiplayer-specific quests of the previous Monster Hunter are gone. Plus, the game is challenging, but not impossible to beat solo.
Nonetheless, Monster Hunter World would unquestionably be a more user-friendly experience with cross-play. While the 2018 release is not so old that it’s unthinkable Capcom would release an update, these options don’t appear to be a consideration.
If you don’t have a Switch, you might be tempted to think you’re missing out on the whole Animal Crossing/life simulation craze. That’s simply not true though. Stardew Valley is available for pretty much every piece of hardware, even Nintendo’s product.
You just can’t play with folks on different systems.
Part of the fun of a game like this in particular is interacting with friends. In fact, Stardew Valley is so fun to play with other people, a board game launched this week. So needless to say, the lack of cross-play again feels like a missed opportunity for this game.
Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone said in 2018 there would not be cross-play, noting the “technical barriers are high.” You can forgive a solo creator of a game as ambitious as this for not being able to make that happen.
What’s everybody else’s excuse?