Cross-Play Kicks Off Next Generation With Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The other day I installed Dauntless on my PC with the half hour spare I had before we recorded a podcast. I had played a couple of hours of the recently released monster hunter & free to play game on my PS4 earlier in the week, and I wanted to see if it had cross-progression on top of cross-play. It does and I was loved how seamless it all worked without a single issue between platforms.
Booting up Dauntless I loaded straight into the character I had started on my PS4 several nights earlier and off I went queuing into a hunt which paired me, somewhat fittingly, with two PS4 players. We took down the beast, an easy fight, and I loaded back into the HUB world. I logged off; we recorded the podcast.
Later I double checked my PS4's Dauntless progress and yep, it’s all working. Everything I had just done on my PC was there. I was quite impressed. It was like the first time I saw my Grandparents get a DVR a couple of years ago and move away from recording all their — what they refer to as "our programs" — onto VHS. We’ve come so far!
I hadn’t experienced cross-play or cross-progression before that evening, which may be why I was so impressed with everything. The titles that support full cross-play, not including Dauntless are just two: Rocket League & Fortnite. Even if I had messed around with Rocket League or Fortnite in the past, Dauntless is still the first game to launch with full cross-play and progression, which makes it a milestone in gaming history and certainly impressive at first experience. Well, it certainly impressed me.
Soon it seems including cross-play in your game may be a make or break decision for a lot of customers looking to purchase a new title, especially those that don’t buy many games a year. Activision and Infinity Ward this past week announced its upcoming addition to the long-running franchise as a reboot of the Modern Warfare line of titles. The trailer itself didn’t do much for me, but the announcement the game would launch with full cross-play is easily the most exciting thing for the franchise, and potentially multiplayer games, in quite some time.
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, even without the single player campaign, was the second highest selling game in the U.S in 2018. Can we compare those numbers to the astronomical figure of the apparent $3 billion Fortnite made in 2018? Yes, my comparison is this: they’re both huge franchises but have their own audiences.
Call of Duty adding cross-play is going to be monumental to the games industry. Fortnite and Epic Games pushing Sony to break down the door is, of course, a huge part of the story, but the multiplayer flagship franchise of the last century that is Call of Duty adding cross-play, that’s moving through that door and setting up home. Chewie, we’re home and all that included, except Han is you and Chewie is your Xbox friend you haven't gamed with since leaving High School.
I have had friends over the years that I never once gamed with because of console preferences. When Battlefield: Bad Company 2 was released and myself and a friend were smashing that nightly for months, one of our mutual closest friends wanted in, but simply couldn’t without purchasing a new console (which wasn’t monetarily an option.) The same story occurred when myself and the same friend were playing a lot of Black Ops 2 split-screen at his house for months on end. If we had cross-play it would have not only improved my friendships but potentially fostered some others.
It’s at this point the smug PC player would point out if we all had PC’s none of this would have mattered and although they're not wrong — don’t be that person. That’s not the point.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare launching with cross-play support will set a new precedent for multiplayer titles and there’s no downside to it. There will be systems in place for those worried about getting pwned by PC players and so forth, it’s not a giant swimming pool. It’s our many separate pools, now just having a slide built between them.
Just look at what Epic Games is doing with exclusives on their storefront and Sony 'winning' this generation with exclusive single-player games — that's where the need for hardware, or specific storefronts comes in. The next generation won't be fought over where you play a game, especially a multi-platform title. It'll be about first-party exclusives, services like Xbox Game Pass, cloud services, and what you can offer when it comes to great services and exclusive experiences. Separating gamer’s from playing with one another isn’t. and shouldn’t be, the fallback strategy for selling a console or platform.
On top of the consumer angle, for which I see nothing but positives when it comes to something like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, I can also see extra money to be made here. If there’s the ability for cross-progression in unlocks, cosmetics and skins, you’ll have players potentially buying the game twice so they can play on their PS4 or Xbox in the lounge with family members, or their partner, and then in private on their PC. Destiny players have for a long time been begging for cross-progression for these sort of reasons. Can companies come up with a system that can incentive purchasing a second copy for a cheaper price for those that game in multiple rooms, houses and set-ups? Maybe a one-time discount code that can be accessed from within your Xbox One or PS4 copy that offers a decent discount on the PC version that's associated to your BattleNet ID? Hell, I'd probably get the game twice if the discount was decent enough just to be able to try it out across multiple systems, which I'm sure others would as well, especially if they can still play with friends no matter what.
So cross-play hey? A schoolyard of kids where what console your parents' preference doesn’t split up friendship groups or make you feel left out. Pretty cool if you ask me. We may not be into the next generation of consoles just yet, but cross-play feels like our first steps into a bigger and better gaming world. Who needs 60 FPS when you have 60 friends per... Nevermind, that is way too corny.