One of the questions we have to ask ourselves when weâ€™re deciding to buy a console is, â€œwhich system is my social group buying?â€ Wherever your friends are going, youâ€™ll go. But thatâ€™s finally starting to change.
Microsoft, Nintendo, Mojang, Psyonix and Epic Games have all made moves this year that are pushing that idea of a walled garden into the past.
Two of the biggest moves came during E3 this year. Microsoftâ€™s Minecraft is one of the most popular games of all time, crossing demographics like few other games can. Adults, children, young kids and old kids, we all play it. And now, we can play it together. The latest update for the game unifies the base engine for the Xbox One, Windows 10, Nintendo Switch, and Android/iOS versions of the game, allowing people from all five platforms to play together.
Psyonix did the same with Rocket League, allowing the Switch version to play with the Xbox One and PC versions. On the gameâ€™s first day on the new system, tens of thousands of players were able to play seamlessly with each other across the three platforms.
You may have noticed so far that the PlayStation 4 is missing. Well, Epic Games had something to say about that. For a hot moment this fall, the companyâ€™s free-to-play game Fortnite was confirmed to be letting PlayStation and Xbox players play together. It was fixed as a glitch, but thatâ€™s not the kind of glitch that just happens. Someone built the functionality in, even if they didnâ€™t mean for it to go live.
Despite Microsoft and Nintendoâ€™s moves to make cross-platform multiplayer a thing, Sony has resisted thus far, citing first its shareholders and then its need to be â€œmindful of our responsibility to our install baseâ€Â as excuses why theyâ€™re too cool for the party everyone else is hanging out at.
The ball is firmly in Sonyâ€™s court at this point â€“ the family-friendly Nintendo is in, Microsoftâ€™s gaming boss Phil Spencer has said that he wants it to happen. Epic made it happen. That it even happened at all, though, was huge, and signals just how much gaming is changing.