One of the newest topics in the gaming industry right now is cross play, or cross platform gaming. This new approach to gaming, in which players can cooperate with or challenge each other in the same title via different consoles or mediums, has the power to significantly reshape the industry, including the mobile gaming sector.
In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at what cross play is all about and discuss why it matters to mobile app developers.
Cross Platform and Cross Play
The term “cross platform” typically refers to software programs that can run on multiple operating systems. One such example is VLC, a media player that can be used on Microsoft, Mac OS, and Linux.
There are numerous benefits to cross-platform software, including file compatibility across different systems. Cross-platform technology has also become an important part of mobile app development since most businesses and app creators want their output to be as equally accessible to Android and iOS users.
While cross-platform support has become more commonplace throughout numerous software use cases, particularly since the emergence of cloud computing and its associated technologies, it’s a different story when it comes to the gaming industry.
For much of the console gaming segment’s history, cross-platform compatibility was largely non-existent. That’s because the major console manufacturers of Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo funded and produced exclusive gaming titles that were either developed in-house or in strategic partnerships with development studios like Naughty Dog.
This exclusivity meant that many games were only available on a single device, and consumers had to take this into consideration when purchasing a console. For example, Halo could only be played by Xbox users, Uncharted was available only on PlayStation, and the Mario titles were restricted to Nintendo consoles.
Over the past decade, Microsoft and Sony have begun to offer more cross-platform support, with games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla being playable on the PlayStation and Xbox consoles and on Windows O/S. The rising popularity of sectors like iGaming has also brought about cross-platform support for real money gaming, with verticals like online poker being accessible on PC and mobile. Interestingly, some developers have begun to design games with the PC in mind, scaling down to consoles from the higher performance ceiling of desktops.
Although more and more gamers have been able to access a wider variety of titles without needing to invest in new gaming hardware since the 2010s, it’s taken a lot longer for cross-play to take off.
Cross-play enables gamers on different platforms to play together in multiplayer mode. For instance, in Call of Duty: Warzone, players on PC, Xbox, or PlayStation can join and play together seamlessly without any hardware issues. However, some cross-platform titles limit multiplayer modes to a single console or device.
Why Does Cross Play Matter for Mobile?
The trend of video games being exclusive to a single device is waning; the soaring popularity of mobile gaming indicates just how strong the gaming community’s appetite for multi-platform experiences is. Enabling gamers to play together on different devices can result in a more engaged audience, as well as deliver a number of benefits to gamers themselves, including:
- Making gaming inclusive and accessible for all
- Eliminating the need to purchase multiple devices
- Allowing for competition and connection with friends across different platforms
- A more enjoyable and fulfilling gaming experience.
What’s more, cross-play support means that gamers can save and transfer their game progress seamlessly across multiple platforms, enabling them to resume playing from where they left off, regardless of their device. This feature is highly beneficial for players as it eliminates the need to restart the game every time they switch between devices.
Cross-play is an important consideration for mobile app development because it enables players to connect and play with each other regardless of their platform. By enabling cross-play in mobile apps, developers can create a more inclusive gaming experience, allowing players to interact with a wider community and enhancing the overall engagement and retention of users.
Furthermore, cross-play in mobile apps can help overcome the issue of platform fragmentation. With a vast range of devices and operating systems available, developers may face challenges in ensuring that their app runs smoothly across all platforms.
By supporting cross-play, developers can create a unified experience that works seamlessly across multiple platforms, reducing fragmentation and ensuring that the app is accessible to as many users as possible.
Given the increasing prevalence of cloud gaming in recent years, it’s safe to assume that cross-play functionality will become even more common in video games and mobile gaming apps. Game studios and app developers alike need to recognize the significant advantages that cross-play offers in terms of player engagement.
It’s entirely possible that the vast majority of multiplayer games in the future will include cross-play support, making it vital for the mobile segment to join the innovation.