Cross-platform gameplay has always been a heated debate amongst videogame fans. Since the early ‘90s Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) and Mega-Drive (aka Genesis) from Nintendo and Sega, respectively, gamers have always wondered what it would be like for the rival systems to work co-operatively and allow everyone to play together. In virtual reality (VR), there are a number of opportunities for this, with some developers already pursuing their own paths.
Last year Microsoft began a debate concerning online gameplay between Xbox and PlayStation consoles, and suggested that they would be open to such an agreement. Indeed, it’s the Redmond based team that has been most conscientious of cross-platform gameplay for over a decade, with Windows Vista promoted as a synced platform with Xbox 360 through Halo 2 and Shadowrun, Windows Phone promised (but rarely delivered upon) instant resume for videogames released on both Xbox 360 and the mobile format and now Windows 10 gamers able to join with Xbox One through the upcoming ‘Play Anywhere’ programme.
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) also has their Remote Play system, in which PlayStation 4 videogames can be streamed to the PlayStation Vita through a local network, but aside from recent murmurings concerning PlayStation Now coming to PC it’s been largely reserved to SIE (or other Sony division) hardware. However, it now seems that SIE could lead the way for cross-platform gameplay when it comes to VR.
Below are a few titles which highlight the potential of cross-platform gameplay, blazing a trail for others to follow:
EVE Valkyrie on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive & PlayStation VR
CCP Games are an aggressor in the VR space. Their development strategy expands into new territories backed by a hugely popular franchise – EVE Online – and the company isn’t afraid to show their wares long before release. EVE Valkyrie originally made its debut back in 2013, yet didn’t launch until March 2016, alongside the Oculus Rift itself. CCP Games has already confirmed that EVE Valkyrie will also see release on HTC Vive and has long been showing-off the PlayStation VR version. However, the company has also confirmed that all three editions of the videogame will allow for cross-platform gameplay, with teams in a single match set to be comprised of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR players.
War Thunder on Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR
Though technically not officially released for Oculus Rift, War Thunder is already compatible with the head-mounted display (HMD) through Gaijin Entertainment’s own execution. Additionally, War Thunder is already available for PlayStation 4 and will be compatible with PlayStation 4 sometime around the launch of the HMD. Gaijin Entertainment already allow PlayStation 4 and PC gamers to play together and make no exceptions of those playing in VR. A launch on PlayStation VR is not likely to change this openness of gameplay one bit. For this one however, you’re likely to need a flight control stick: check out VRFocus‘ guide to the best flight control sticks for PlayStation 4 here.
World War Toons in VR & Non-VR
Reload Studios has spoken about cross-platform gameplay for the forthcoming World War Toons previously, though there’s been no confirmation of whether PlayStation 4 players will be able to go head-to-head with PC gamers. However, the studio has confirmed that a non-VR version is in development and, in fact, VRFocus has experienced this already. A fine balancing act, given World War Toons’ fast-paced first-person shooter (FPS) action.
Xbox One VR
The Xbox One’s VR compatibility looks set to appear later than that of PlayStation 4, with the recently revealed Project Scorpio console designated a VR compatible platform. So what does this mean for cross-platform gameplay? Given that Microsoft has been making moves to bring PC and Xbox closer together – and more recently open to the idea of co-operating with SIE for PlayStation cross-platform gameplay also – it’s likely that this will already be part of Microsoft’s strategy. Exactly what form it will take however, we’re unlikely to see until next year.