It’s been a long, strange, and often frustrating journey but now, in 2018, we have finally entered the real age of proper cross-platform gaming adaption. For those unaware, this term generally refers to the concept of the same game sharing multiplayer communities over different platforms. While the origins of cross-platform gaming are rather diverse, the more modern adaptions tend to take this simple multi-platform route. How did we get here, and why is this concept so important?
The earliest and most generous displays of cross-platform concepts are two-fold. The first major effort, at least in the same way we see today, came from the early attempt at a cross-platform Quake 3 Arena. As one of the biggest series in the world at the time, Quake had an enormous community, and the ability to pit Dreamcast players against those on the PC seemed too good to be true.
In reality, this system was flawed. Mouse and keyboard simply offered a true advantage in speed and accuracy over console controllers, and while this issue has been mitigated somewhat with better auto-aim functions and more accurate modern controllers, the issue still persists for a few genres.
The other development which helped popularize cross-platform gaming is often underestimated, and that is the contribution of online casino gaming. Online casino games were some of the first to offer cohesive experiences over a variety of devices, allowing multiplayer from desktops to laptops, mobile phones, and tablets. Today, players can enjoy online casino games in the UK or anywhere in the world from almost any sufficiently modern device with internet capabilities through downloadable apps and browser-based gameplay alike. While they’re not direct competitors in the main world of what we consider traditional video games, the popularity and capabilities of casino platforms showed the often hesitant gaming world as a whole what could be done, and just how effective it could be.
The Importance of Community
We are social creatures, and gaming has always reflected this. Even back in the age of early arcade single-player games, the social aspect of these communities helped drive engagement and maintain interest on a level which a strictly individual experience never could. The best example of this is the fight to get – and remain – at the top of high score tables. Not only is competition good for our social health as animals, but it also offers significant motivation to gamers, which those working in the gaming industry satisfy not only in the form of outright wins or losses but through achievements, social media logins and more.
Long-term engagement in online games comes from the health of the community themselves. Over time, interest inevitably wanes, with departures lowering community numbers until they drop below social consciousness. By combining pools of players into one collective group, long-term longevity is maintained, with this greater level of interest helping both publishers and developers get more out of their investments than prior disconnected systems would ever allow.
The currently biggest game in the world, Fortnite, understands this and has utilized it to great effect. Not only does this title cover all major consoles and PC, but it has even pushed into the mobile market. This unprecedented spread and success is no small contributor to the game’s fame and has set the stage for many imitators to follow suit.
Getting on Board
Today we see increasing numbers of major games offering cross-platform experiences. While the viability of some games and genres, specifically those which are the most processor demanding, will prevent all from following the same tack, there is another development around the corner which could mitigate this problem entirely. As game-streaming moves from oddity to mass-viability, consistent gaming experiences over even limited devices has become a new reality.
We could just now be seeing the form of all future gaming, and it’s one better for the player than ever.
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