While Sony and Nintendo appear content to focus on their own hardware, Microsoft has made an aggressive push in recent years to expand its gaming aspirations beyond the Xbox. That push will continue in 2019, as the description of an upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 session reveals that the company is preparing to release a new software development kit that will allow developers to integrate Xbox Live into games across a variety of new platforms, including the Nintendo Switch. This was first spotted by Avers on Twitter over the weekend.
“Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK,” reads the description. Microsoft says that players will be able to connect “between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox [and] Windows PC.”
Xbox Live was fairly ubiquitous when online gaming first got big on home consoles. PlayStation Network wasn’t much of a rival at first, and Nintendo is still playing catch-up. But in the years since, gamers have fragmented across a wide variety of online networks and services. So by opening up Xbox Live across the most popular non-Microsoft gaming devices (smartphones and the Switch), Microsoft’s service could reclaim its throne.
Here’s exactly what Microsoft plans on doing with Xbox Live, according to the breakdown on the GDC website:
- Xbox Live players are highly engaged and active on Xbox and PC, but now they can take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen.
- This will break down barriers for developers that want their communities to mingle more freely across platforms. Combined with PlayFab gaming services, this means less work for game developers and more time to focus on making games fun.
Combine the spread of Xbox Live with Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud, and it’s clear that Microsoft is setting itself up for the future of gaming. The Xbox One might not have been the success story the company hoped it would be, but Microsoft just might have the biggest head start on the next generation of gaming.