Gaijin Entertainment is currently working on the wonderful free-to-play War Thunder, a World War II combat game for next-gen consoles and PC. For War Thunder, a large and growing population of gamers is what keeps them the title thriving and expanding to include new feature (like tank combat), and so cross-platform play is natural evolution for a venture like this one in the modern era of online video games. This is why War Thunder found a second home on Sony’s PlayStation 4 where it’s currently available in Europe with a cross-platform patch on the way to release.
Microsoft however, is currently not allowing such at thing on the Xbox One, according to Gaijin Entertainment CEO Anton Yudintsev. Yudintsev explained to GameSpot at GDC that War Thunder is not going to be coming to Xbox One, leaving fans of the consoles who’ve had their eye on the game after the beta test, out of luck. He claims that Microsoft’s reasoning for the lack of cross-platform play is Microsoft’s need to certify game servers to ensure a “good experience” for all players.
It’s peculiar and frustrating for the company to not jump at the chance to open up the Xbox to connect to PC gamers, a true next-gen gaming experience, considering that they just stated they were going to be pushing PC gaming support going forward. War Thunder had over 5 million beta users by November, and was a launch title for the PS4, in Europe – still no date on its North American release. Sony will be supporting cross-platform play for the game as early as next month.
Phil Spencer, Vice-President of Microsoft Gaming, had said in an earlier interview that cross-platform play “makes sense” and that he’s “not allowed to leak things.” While this is a strong indication that the feature might be coming to Xbox One soon, Yudintsev isn’t satisfied with the workings of Microsoft when it comes to indie developers.
“Sony is much more open to indie developers and free-to-play games in general. So Sony has been in the free-to-play market for a few years already, they started on the PlayStation 3. Not only that, but Microsoft has a lot of unspoken limitations like if you want to make a free-to-play game you have to talk to an account manager and there are no set of rules; you need to communicate them; and the rule depends on the [individual account manager]. If he likes your game you get approval, if he doesn’t you don’t get approval.”
Yudintsev continued, revealing that one individual account manager decides the fate of the game, discussing whether “This game is good, this game is bad.” He said that because of this, Gaijin Entertainment and War Thunder sided with Sony rather than Microsoft. However, he also emphasized that Microsoft’s policies are changing, with the introduction of the [email protected] program. Be he also emphasized that they have a lot of work to do to catch up with Sony.
It’s important to note that Yudintsev stressed that he does not prefer one console over the other, and that it’s about the game and the experience, something that Microsoft just so happens to be blocking in this case.
“I have nothing against the platform itself especially because I’m not one of those guys who worries about which is better [Xbox One or PS4]. I don’t care. It’s just the hardware. At the end of the day it’s only about the quality of the game and the gameplay experience.”
Is Microsoft’s decision to continue blocking what’s potentially a major next-gen feature, arguably an expected one for consumers, a major issue when it’s hindering the release of a popular game such as War Thunder or even something like Warframe which launched alongside PS4? What does this mean for other major free-to-play and indie titles? To other developers? Microsoft is being outsold by Sony on the console and now they’re pushing a dev out with this antiquated policy when if one company should support PC the most, it should be them, no?
What do you think? Is Microsoft making a mistake not allowing cross-platform play at the same time as Sony? Let us know in the comments below.
War Thunder is available for PC, and PS4 (Europe only).