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 has been writing for PC Gamer for nearly a decade, starting out as a freelance writer covering everything from free games to MMOs. He eventually joined full-time as a news writer, before moving to the magazine to review immersive sims, RPGs and Hitman games. Now he leads PC Gamer's UK team, but still sometimes finds the time to write about his ongoing obsessions with Destiny 2, GTA Online and Apex Legends. When he's not levelling up battle passes, he's checking out the latest tactics game or dipping back into Guild Wars 2. He's largely responsible for the whole Tub Geralt thing, but still isn't sorry.