But only in social play, not ranked
At last year’s E3, Microsoft’s big focus was Play Anywhere gaming. That’s the initiative that’s rooted in the mindset that people can play first-party Microsoft games on both their Xbox or PC; the transition should be seamless. But, an interview with 343 Industries revealed a key detail: Play Anywhere doesn’t necessarily mean play with anyone.
Cross-play isn’t something that Microsoft promised as a part of Play Anywhere, but one of its studios is trying it anyway. After a successful trial weekend in late December, Gears of War 4 is introducing a cross-play playlist in competitive multiplayer. If all goes smoothly for a couple months, it’ll be added as a permanent feature.
The change was revealed in a post on Xbox Wire. The test run seems to have assuaged any concerns that platform-specific nuance would give one side a significant advantage. According to The Coalition’s findings “Windows 10 and Xbox players had closely-matched results when comparing Average (kill to death ratio), score, and kills per match based on skill ratings.” The sample size was more than 750,000 matches, and the breakdown of players was 91 percent on Xbox One to just 9 percent on Windows 10 PC.
Although cross-play is coming to Gears 4‘s competitive multiplayer, things will stay more traditional where they really matter. The cross-play playlist is in social quickly only. Core and competitive play will remain platform independent. The Coalition commented on this by saying “Despite the closely matched performance between users on both platforms seen in our cross-play test weekend, we always want to ensure our ranked experiences are as closely matched and competitive as possible.”
Gears of War 4 has actually had cross-play implementation since launch, but it was confined to cooperative ventures in the campaign and in Horde mode. Adding it to competitive multiplayer is a big step forward for Microsoft and Play Anywhere. But, we still probably shouldn’t expect other developers to follow suit anytime soon.