Microsoft's investment in PC gaming has felt half-hearted over the past several years. It locked Halo 2 and Gears of Wars into the now waning Games for Windows Live ecosystem, and it's become abundantly clear that Microsoft is leaving video games up to the Xbox division. However, a recent interview between Microsoft and AusGamers reveals that Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Studios Phil Spencer is open to the idea of cross platform play between the Xbox One and PCs.
“I'm not allowed to leak things,” Spencer said. “But I think what you're talking about makes a lot of sense.”
Spencer pointed to 2007's Shadowrun, an online FPS that featured cross-platform play between the Xbox 360 and PC. Spencer admits that the cross-platform experiment didn't go very well, but that he learned a lot from the experience. Those problems aside, Spencer said he's confident that playing games across different platforms through cloud saves (Spencer used Skulls of the Shogun as an example) is the future of gaming.
“This connected ecosystem across all the different devices is definitely where I think the future of gaming is going; you don't have to do it as a developer, but you have the capability and I think a system like Xbox Live across all those screens where you know who someone is and who their friends are, what their Achievements are and their progression is really critical to that,” Spencer said.
I think cross-platform play has a future on single-player or co-op games, where you don't have to take competitive advantage into account. I don't believe PC gamers are inherently better at video games than their console counter-parts, but there's an obvious advantage control-wise. Mouse and keyboard controls will always be more accurate than a joystick, and it's never fun to lose when the other team is on a different playing field. But playing games on a PC and picking up where I left off somewhere else on a console—that's a different story. Microsoft working with Valve or EA to make cloud saves compatible between systems doesn't sound like a particularly plausible scenario, but I'd be more than happy to see it come to fruition.