Microsoft wastes little time in clarifying a few things about its widely praised Play Anywhere system, stating that not all games will receive cross-play support.
Whenever a company announces the introduction of a brand new, platform-wide system, there is bound to be some initial confusion on the part of the people those changes affect. Microsoft's new Xbox Play Anywhere system is one such change that, while exciting, is not necessarily as easy to understand as one would expect from something designed to let gamers buy a game on PC or Xbox One and have it for the other platform as well.
Take, for instance, the notion that the Play Anywhere system would be implemented on all titles released after its debut. While that will be true of the feature that allows gamers to take a PC purchase and download it on their Xbox One as well, the same cannot be said for the other selling point of Play Anywhere - the cross-play system designed to allow users of both platforms to mingle with each other while they game. Graeme Jennings of 343 Industries helped clarify, using the upcoming Halo Wars 2 as an example:
"We don't have cross-play. We have the Play Anywhere scenario...we have shared saves...but, once we started development, we had to make some choices early on and that's one of them [cross-play] that we weren't able to do."
In context, an approach like this from Microsoft and the studios who develop for the Xbox One makes sense, and it's also likely a reason why Xbox Play Anywhere doesn't require an Xbox Live Gold membership - if it's not a ubiquitous service, it wouldn't make sense as a premium-only option. Instead, Jennings' statement seems to indicate that cross-play will be implemented on a case-by-case basis. It's possible that games developed by Microsoft, like Gears of War 4, will have multiplayer cross-play more often than titles developed outside of Microsoft's in-house studios.
Still, even though cross-play won't be standard for every new game, the fact it even exists is something worth celebrating. Microsoft has been working hard the past few years to help blur the boundaries between PC and console gaming, and decisions like creating Play Anywhere and making the new Xbox One controller dongle-less for PC users go a long way towards making that a reality.
While it's a sure bet that more details about Play Anywhere will emerge over the rest of the E3 2016 week and beyond, the system still appears to have all the makings of a resounding success. What do you think about Play Anywhere not always supporting cross-play, however? Do you think it should be an all-or-nothing kind of commitment, or is a more sporadic implementation fine? Let us know in the comments below.