Play on what you want.

In a year that’s given us a glimpse of the autonomous driving car, self-lacing sneakers, and an iPhone with no headphone jack because Apple showed “courage”, I’m struggling to understand why cross play is still a mere pipe dream for gamers.

Cross play, if you didn’t know, allows gamers from different systems to play together. It means that if you own a game on PS4, you can play the same game against your friend online even if they own it on Xbox One.

Wouldn’t that be awesome? Yeah, you’re damn right it would.

And yet, even though we’re slowly approaching 2017, games that support cross play functionality are few and far between. In fact, I could probably count them on one hand.

To me, that’s unacceptable. And I’m quite frankly sick of having to decide between buying a game based on my personal preference or at the risk of not being able to play with my friends.

Getting Cross at Cross Play

Microsoft has made small strides in letting PC gamers play with Xbox One players with their new “play anywhere” scheme. But unfortunately, even this enticing promise comes with disappointing caveats. Yes, you can play Gears of War 4’s co-op campaign online together, but you can’t play online multiplayer together. For that, you’ll need the same hardware.

Rocket League is one of the pioneers of cross play functionality. PS4 and Xbox One owners can play with PC gamers online, with very few strings attached. However, console players can’t face off against each other, even though we’ve been told it’s possible to do so. Anyone else get the feeling we’re being screwed over here?

Rocket League cross play

Rocket League is best enjoyed with friends.

The cross play conundrum is made all the more frustrating as Microsoft are open to the idea of cross-network play between Xbox, PS4 and PC. They even released this statement last year:

“We’re enabling developers to support cross-network play. This means 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.”

If it wasn’t obvious, that “other console” is the PlayStation 4.

Friend Zone

So why isn’t cross play widely available? Well, most of the arguments as to why it hasn’t been implemented stem from the idea that PC gamers would have a competitive advantage over console gamers. But do we honestly believe that developers, with all the control they have on their games, couldn’t find a way around this? And if not, what’s the excuse for the lack of cross play on console, then? The games are almost identical in every regard.

The truth is, there isn’t one.

Titanfall 2 cross play

Without cross play, Titanfall’s player base could go up in flames.

It’s not just gamers who would benefit immensely from cross play support, either. Developers would arguably have even more to gain. Just look at Titanfall 2, as a recent example. Titanfall’s player base dwindled at a remarkable rate, so much so that the game is basically dead. Instead of relying on incredible sales figures across three different platforms, it’s in Respawn’s best interests to combine the entire player base into one thriving pool. Instead, we’ve got three fragmented player bases, all of which need supporting, and all of which have a greater chance of dying sooner. And head’s up, Titanfall 2 isn’t doing too well.

It just doesn’t make sense.

Standby For Loneliness

So who’s to blame here? Is it the developers for not pushing cross play in their games? Is it the publishers who, by some twisted logic, are scared that sales will be severely impacted? Or is it Sony, whose best interests may be served by blocking cross play entirely?

Whoever is to blame, cross play functionality should be the standard we all demand moving forward. It’s to the benefit of gamers, developers and ultimately the publishers themselves – even if they can’t see it yet.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to play Titanfall 2 on PC with roughly 8,000 other players, none of which include my friends.

Goddamn it.