And the first to achieve proper cross-platform games is… Windows?

Posted: January 16, 2015 by ryanlecocq in Features, Technology

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If you’ve checked out the Windows app store recently and own multiple Windows devices, you may have noticed something interesting recently.  Many of the popular apps are now available across all Windows Platforms.  For example, Order and Chaos, Gameloft’s WoW-alike is now available for desktops, RT and phones.  All three versions can play together and character data carries across all versions.  This is something players have wanted from World of Warcraft for years and Blizzard has made zero effort to appease.  I have to admit that WoW’s nearest clone beating them to mobile/desktop cross-platform play comes as a little bit of a surprise.  These aren’t casual titles either, there are action, racing, adventure and puzzle games available right now on the Windows store that you can play across a huge breadth of devices.  You could go buy a Lumia 635 smartphone for $70 right now and play a WoW clone with me on my desktop, with no monthly fee, over wifi or mobile data.  Name for me one Playstation game that is not a casual game and can be played across the PS3/PSP/PS4/PSVITA.  The closest I can come up with is Final Fantasy XIV, which has PS3/PS4 play or other similar games which are only across 2 platforms.  The Apple store is exactly the same, with Mac games generally unable to play with versions on iPad and iPhone, even when the same game is offered on both.

This is exactly what Microsoft has been telling us to expect from them this year; cross-platform integration of all Windows devices.  I just thought we would have to wait for the rollout of Windows 10 to see it, but apparently I was wrong.  Microsoft is making fast strides to change the view that they are becoming outdated and slow to adapt.  The new Microsoft keeps surprising me by giving me great new things unexpectedly and with minimal hype.  One day it’s my camera app getting all sorts of new functionality with new lenses (camera app add-ons), another day it’s suddenly being able to play games with desktop users.  Even the perception that Windows is clunky is hard to hold today.  Every day people are impressed by how my Windows devices function.  Users of other phones love the live tiles, which combine the function of a shortcut and a widget in one thing, that shows more information automatically the larger you make it.  My girlfriend, owner of some of the nicest devices Apple makes, will be impressed by a function that is built right into Windows, but requires an app or much effort to accomplish on a Mac.  Windows is changing for the better, to the point that I don’t really see the need for a regression to the style of Windows 7 in the upcoming Windows 10.  Here’s hoping that people will realize how magnificent Windows 8.1 truly is before it’s too late.

Back to the subject at hand, cross-platform Windows gaming is still far from complete.  The Xbox, PC and mobile versions of Minecraft are still completely different and at the moment cross-platform play would be impossible.  Now that Microsoft owns Mojang, hopefully they will act on this ridiculous business opportunity.  Think about it, if Windows Phone, Xbox, PCs and Tablets could all play the same version of Minecraft, it would be the equivalent killer app to Super Mario Brothers or Halo.  Speaking of Halo, it wouldn’t hurt to do the same with Spartan Assault and its’ upcoming sequel.  If Minecraft and Halo were available across all Windows platforms and segregated or unavailable everywhere else, Microsoft’s prospects in mobile sales among critical age groups would drastically change.

With the recent versions of the desktop and mobile Windows platforms, Microsoft has made me a believer again, after many years of cynicism toward them.  I’m proud to carry Windows devices and I don’t hesitate to answer any challenge from users of other OSs as to why my choice is superior.  My machines do what I want them to do, when I want them to do it and they don’t do what I don’t want them to.  That’s a claim that all user interfaces strive for and Microsoft is making a reality, one step at a time.

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