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Cross-Play is Cool, but we need Cross-Progression in Everything

Cross-Play

The PlayStation 4 is finally enabling cross-play for all games. Check out Ben Kerry’s news article on it HERE. In the Wired’s news of PS Now getting a price cut, they mention the PS4 “can support cross-play on any titles that studios provide the functionality for.” The article mentions that Call of Duty Modern Warfare will be the first, but not the last cross-play title. Let’s ignore the fact that Fortnite, Rocket League, and others are already in there.

Even if it is not the first cross-play title PS4 will support with other consoles, this is a big deal. Regardless of your opinion of Call of Duty nowadays, it is still one of the biggest game series ever. It is constantly the top-selling game of every year, except for when Rockstar releases Grand Theft Auto or Red Dead Redemption. Even with it being popular to talk down on the games, Call of Duty is received positively overall each year.

Modern Warfare being the “first” big step towards allowing everyone to play together is going to open doors for cross-play. Earlier this year, Sony was adamant about cross-play being available for all studios. However, shortly after that statement, smaller developers began voicing their frustrations with Sony telling them no. Since then, not much has been said on the topic. Rocket League randomly got it’s cross-play, but that is it. Surely the fan feedback of being able to play with your friends that do not own the same console as you is going to be a big push for cross-play everywhere.

Cross-Progression is just as big as Cross-Play

While the ability to play with your friends on any console is awesome, I am still of the mindset that cross-progression is just as big of a deal. While not everyone is going to have the money to buy multiple consoles, being able to move to that platform whenever you want would remain the easiest way to keep playing with others and take advantage of each console’s strong points.

One moment I’m playing DOOM on my Xbox One X, looking at all the pretty graphics. Then I pick up my Switch and play while relaxing in my bed, enjoying the portability. If I decide to head into the other room, I can turn on my PS4 and play there as well. Jumping between platforms with the same game and picking up right where you left off would be an awesome reality. If you played The Division 2 on your Xbox, but you had friends on PS4 playing it as well, would you put money into a second copy of the game if it meant you didn’t have to go through the entire story and grind your level again? I certainly would. Cross-play is going to be available for every game, but that doesn’t mean it is coming to every game.

In my situation, I own an Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and PlayStation 4. I am the type of person to put a lot of money into my games. That isn’t for everyone, but it works for me, and I am happy with it. My PS4 largely remains there for me to play its exclusives on. While jumping between Minecraft on my Xbox and Switch is awesome, the experience is better because I carry my realm over with me. I do not have to sign in on my Switch and start over on a new world. I log-in with my Xbox account, and I can play with the same people I was playing with while I was on my Switch.

minecraft

How to do it?

Almost every online game you play nowadays has you create an account for the company that owns it. This is how Minecraft and Hi-Rez (Smite, Paladins, Realm Royale) handle cross-progression and cross-play. All the information for your account goes into their database, so when you sign-in on a different console it is instantly there for you. Every cross-platform game needs to adopt this mentality.

To have access to the Call of Duty beta this year, you had to sign in to your Activision account. Why is there no cross-progression for Modern Warfare? You can link both your Xbox Live and PSN account to it and see your stats for Call of Duty games. We should have the ability to carry that over with us to the other side. It’s not missing because of money. People playing on different consoles will be buying the game multiple times. You have to figure a huge company with so many resources like Activision would be chomping at the chance for people to buy multiple copies of their games. They are leaving money on the table doing this.

Cross-Play will not solve every issue

This is not to say I am against cross-play at all because I am one hundred percent in for it. I think console wars are dumb, and we should enjoy games instead of arguing over which console is better to play the same game on. Being able to play that same game between platforms is a great step towards that, but it does not solve all problems. For example, there is no question that the Xbox One and PS4 are superior over the Switch when it comes to online play.

What if on the day you are playing, the Switch is having issues connecting with other platforms? You are stuck playing alone like usual. What if the batteries in your Xbox One controller die and you have no spares lying around? Sure would be nice to quickly switch to the PS4 if needed. What if you prefer private party chat over public like me? I only want to talk to my friends while playing games. While playing Modern Warfare on my Xbox with friends on PS4 we will not have access to the same parties. We are going to be stuck in public chat dealing with other people.

If you are dedicated enough to playing a game on multiple consoles, both developers and publishers should reward you with the opportunity to hop back and forth effortlessly. In every case, it’s going to be awesome playing games with friends on other consoles. Cross-play is a huge first step. Cross-progression is the second step that needs to be taken.

John Hansen
John works at Gamestop during the day and is writing for multiple gaming sites at night. You can find his writings on sites such as Gamepur, Club Penguin Hero, Culture of Gaming, and more. He also co-hosts a weekly gaming podcast called Pixel Street Podcast and uploads to his personal YouTube channel.

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