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David Braben explains the problem with Elite: Dangerous cross-play

Elite Dangerous Review

Elite: Dangerous is coming to consoles; first to Microsoft's one, and then later to Sony's one. Given that it's already on PC, why should you care? Well, it's possible that you're wondering if you could one day fly alongside—or just kill—those console owning pilots.

According to Frontier's David Braben, while he likes the idea of cross-play between PC and consoles, there is one significant problem that stands in the way.

"I think the challenges for us, which sort of fights against it," Braben told PCGamesN, "is we’ve also said that we’ll continue to do updates across all platforms, and what we didn’t want was PC updates to be held up for whatever reason, like if there’s a delay on another platform."

Basically, console patches require certification—essentially the approval of the platform owner—and that means they can't be released as frequently as on the PC. Either different systems run different versions, or PC patching gets held up by the consoles—something that, for obvious reasons, Frontier doesn't want to do.

Nevertheless, despite the lack of cross-platform play, PC and console pilots will use the same simulation. "What we’ve said for definite is that they will be playing in the same world," Braben said, "the same background sim will be effecting the same stock markets and stuff like that. I would like to see cross-play as well. There’s nothing presenting it technically, other than that the worlds might be slightly out of sync."

Phil Savage
Phil leads PC Gamer's UK team. He was previously the editor of the magazine, and thinks you should definitely subscribe to it. He enjoys RPGs and immersive sims, and can often be found reviewing Hitman games. He's largely responsible for the Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.