Microsoft is opening up Xbox Live to work with competing multiplayer networks. During the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco Monday, the company revealed that developers would be able to build support into their games for services on other platforms. This could mean players from Steam and the PlayStation Network joining Xbox Live players in the same game.
“Players on Xbox One and Windows 10 using Xbox Live will be able to play with players on different online multiplayer networks — including other console and PC networks,” said Chris Charla, director of ID@Xbox, the independent game developer outreach program that Microsoft runs.
The first game to take advantage will be “Rocket League,” a soccer/driving crossover game out now on Xbox One, PS4 and PC. The game will initially support play between Xbox One and PC gamers, “with an open invitation for other networks to participate as well,” said Charla. This suggests that it’s up to the competing networks to accept the invite and support multiplayer games with Xbox Live players.
Microsoft initially brought Xbox Live to the PC in May 2007 as “Games for Windows Live.” The service allowed PC players to play against Xbox 360 players with supported games. Microsoft later integrated Windows with Xbox Live even further, with a “Games” app installed by default on Windows 8 that provided an easy place to find and download Xbox Live-enabled games.
This move takes things one step further, however, by letting players compete with gamers not using a Microsoft service.
The news follows plans Microsoft revealed earlier this month to encourage Xbox One developers onto its "universal app" platform. With games developed as “universal apps,” players could play the same game on Xbox One and PC without having to pay twice. Coupled with its Xbox Live plans, Microsoft seems keen to tear down barriers between platforms and increase interoperability for gamers.