With the lines between console brands slowly beginning to blur, Microsoft has emerged as the first of the “big three” companies actively seeking to embrace partnerships with its competitors. While Sony’s years-long dominance of console sales and Nintendo’s recent Switch-related resurgence have earmarked the two giants for strong 2017 and 2018 profits, however, Microsoft has become a contender once more thanks to extremely strong Xbox One X preorder performances. What might not have been the most appealing partnership in years past is suddenly beginning to look like it might have more lucrative prospects after all.

Microsoft is well aware of the shift in perception surrounding its console strength, too – a recent interview with vice president of Xbox Mike Ybarra revealed that the company now feels ready to extend an open invitation to other industry competitors for crossplay partnerships. In an interview with VG 24/7, Ybarra had this to say:

“If any developer wants to have that conversation [regarding crossplay]…Valve is right down the street from us, Nintendo is too – they’re like a block from us. We’re having these discussions as developers come up, and we’re completely open to that.”

Microsoft has famously attempted to sway Sony on its staunch no-crossplay stance in recent months, but this is the first time a prominent Xbox team member has suggested other crossplay partners as real possibilities. Of the two companies mentioned, it seems much more likely that Microsoft would see interest from Nintendo, as the latter has just begun seriously attempting to shore up its online multiplayer functionality and would greatly benefit from a deft hand like Microsoft being on board with future releases.

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Valve, however, would be the much more lucrative crossplay target for Microsoft. The Steam playerbase is massive, and games like¬†PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds¬†have become internet and esport sensations. Combining multiplayer functionality with Valve would give Microsoft a lot of options for multi-platform releases in the future, although it remains to be seen whether or not the team at Valve thinks a partnership would benefit both parties.

Regardless of what comes out of the invitation, however, Ybarra’s suggestion that crossplay should become a bigger part of gaming is one that multiplayer fans have been preaching for years. That Microsoft is aggressively pursuing the feature could become a major story in coming months, and could even serve to push Xbox One X sales even further as gamers begin to realize they have a better chance of crossplay functionality with Microsoft’s new console.

Source: VG 24/7