Xbox Live is going cross-platform with Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android

Microsoft is bringing Xbox Live to Nintendo Switch, iOS, and Android with a new cross-platform SDK set to debut at GDC 2019. These devices will be able to share achievements, social systems, and multiplayer with the PC and Xbox family, rapidly advancing the company’s dream of a barrier-free future for gaming.

The news traces back to the GDC 2019 scheduling website (via Windows Central), on a session page that has since been updated. “Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach [of] over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK,” wrote Microsoft.

For users, this means they’ll get to take their friends list, clubs, and more wherever they go, from the PC gaming room to the console living room and, now, out the door.

For developers, Microsoft are simplifying the process by using PlayFab, a backend services provider that they acquired earlier this year.

The obvious question on gamers’ minds will be cross-platform multiplayer, a seemingly-impossible barrier that is now breached thanks to the phenomenal success of Epic Games’ Fortnite. The battle royale reportedly attracted 10 million concurrent players for a recent in-game event, eliminating the gap between keyboard, controller, and touchscreen users.

It’ll be up to developers to pursue this untapped frontier, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if Microsoft should set a few examples as well. They’re already familiar with cross-platform development through Minecraft, consistently support older Xbox games through backward compatibility efforts, and have a pile of IPs and first-party developers on hand. They could also synergise with their attractive Xbox Game Pass subscription, or their upcoming Project xCloud game streaming service to ramp up user appeal.

While Nintendo has yet to comment, the reveal speaks volumes of their (presumed) consent, aligning themselves with Microsoft’s goal of simply getting games to their users. The only party left drawing battle lines in the sand is Sony, who are staunchly against cross-platform support for any number of excuses.

There’ll be plenty of eyes and ears waiting on Microsoft’s GDC 2019 session, at an industry event already chock-full of behind-the-scenes gold. The conference runs from 18-22 March at San Francisco.

In the meantime, don’t miss this Super Bowl Ad on accessibility and the Xbox Adaptive Controller; platform barriers aren’t the only things Microsoft intends to tear down.

Ade Putra

Ade thinks there's nothing quite like a good game and a snug headcrab. He grew up with HIDEO KOJIMA's Metal Gear Solid, lives for RPGs, and is waiting for light guns to make their comeback.