A new report from virtual world pioneer Improbable: Crossplay: Power In Numbersexplores the size, opportunity and complexity of 'crossplay' - games that can be played by multiple players across multiple devices simultaneously.
Global connectivity is the new normal
Gone are the days of cartridge-based games and split-screen multiplayer. Games are increasingly ‘live’ and online. Multiplayer competition is truly global and platforms from every manufacturer are now connected.
Yet like they have since the earliest days of the videogames era, players are using games to connect, compete, collaborate and socialise with each other.
While this gives players ever more exciting and engaging experiences, it makes game creation exponentially harder for developers. Designing and deploying multiple versions of the same game for multiple platforms and online stores, while managing regular updates and across all of them, is far more complex than building a single platform game ‘product’.
This is now the new industry paradigm for multiplayer video games: live-service games, delivered to a global network of players who can play together, irrespective of platform.
For so many years, groups of friends have been separated by the inability to play across different platformsJohn Wasilczyk
However, the result is an enhanced gameplay experience, and an opportunity for studios and publishers to create games that players keep coming back for - again and again, and again.
Building for billions
The number of gamers around the world continues to grow and the value of the games market is now projected to reach $256.97 billion by 2025. This means the opportunities to reach more than three billion gamers through crossplay titles will continue to grow.
Improbable's vice president of UK and China games studio, John Wasilczyk, said: "One of the most exciting trends that we’ve seen in video games over the last few years involves huge companies and corporations coming together to be more flexible and do what’s right for the player. This is what’s core to the crossplay experience.
For so many years, groups of friends have been separated by the inability to play across different platforms. They would have to make an almost tribal choice of which platform to play on. But with the advent of crossplay, games are far more accessible to groups who no longer need to make this choice. Players now have more access to more people around the world anytime, anywhere."
Despite the challenges, the opportunities to reach a huge global audience make cross-platform gameplay worth considering. As Improbable senior software engineer Chris Giroir, said: "You should be launching on every platform that makes sense for your game. If your game plays well on a platform and it’s fun on a platform, there shouldn’t be a technical reason you don’t launch on that platform."
You should be launching on every platform that makes sense for your game.Chris Giroir
The full Crossplay: Power in numbers report is free to download. It includes valuable case studies, real-world examples of games that have enabled crossplay from the outset, and titles that have successfully incorporated it after release.
The report offers developers and publishers insight into how they can plan and implement cross-platform multiplayer gaming and where they can find help and support when needed.
The report can be found and downloaded here.