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Microsoft planning Xbox Live features for Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch

Cross-platform gaming is a reality for several titles, and Microsoft sees a gap for social functionality in these games.

Published onFebruary 4, 2019

The Xbox One controller.
  • Microsoft will reveal plans for cross-platform Xbox Live functionality next month.
  • The news comes via a schedule for the Game Developers Conference.
  • Xbox Live functionality is expected to be available on Android, iOS, and Switch games.

Xbox Live is one of the best console gaming networks out there, offering plenty of social tools and pioneering those ever-popular achievements. Now, it seems like Microsoft is gearing up to bring Xbox Live features to Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch.

The news, spotted by Windows Central, comes via the Game Developers Conference (GDC) schedule. The GDC page reveals Microsoft’s plans for a cross-platform development kit that will connect to over two billion devices.

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“Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs,” reads an excerpt of the page.

The page notes that the new development kit will let players take their “gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen.” Now, this doesn’t mean Xbox One games will work on your Switch (although Microsoft’s streaming efforts could theoretically make that happen), so don’t hold your breath for Halo 4 on Switch or iPhone.

Solving a cross-platform problem

Microsoft has a long history of cross-platform Xbox Live functionality, starting with initiatives like the much-maligned Games for Windows Live on PC. It also offered Xbox Live achievements on its Windows Phone platforms, but this capability was limited to a handful of games. More recently, Windows Central noted that Minecraft requires users to sign in with their Xbox Live account on Android, iOS, and Switch.

Who needs Kinect? You can now control your Xbox One with Alexa and Cortana
The Xbox One controller.

So why does Microsoft think now is the time for a cross-platform Xbox Live push? Well, we’ve seen an explosion in cross-platform gaming in the past year or two, thanks to titles like Fortnite, Minecraft, PUBG, and Rocket League. One potential challenge is a seamless way of communicating in these games across platforms. Sure, you can play games on Switch with your Xbox-owning friends, but developers have to add their own social features (e.g. parties and voice chat) or leave it out completely. By using Xbox Live, developers theoretically don’t have to spend a ton of resources implementing these capabilities.

An interesting omission on the GDC page is Sony’s PlayStation platform, which already has its own PlayStation Network for communication and other features. Sony has been notoriously cagey about cross-platform play in the first place, finally relenting for several games last year. But allowing Xbox Live functionality on PS4 games seems like an understandable step too far for the firm, so you’ll probably need to use Discord when playing with your PS4-owning buddies.

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