Keep the PC and console gamers separated.
Most popular video games are available everywhere, playable on consoles like the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, on gaming PCs, and sometimes even on mobile devices like smartphones and iPads. But, much more often than not, Xbox and PS4 gamers can’t play directly with each other, nor with PC gamers, etc.
Exceptions to this unwritten no-cross-play rule include Fortnite, Minecraft and Call of Duty: Warzone, but not games like Overwatch and Apex Legends. But that may be about to change.
Publisher Epic Games announced Wednesday it will make its Epic Online Services tools available to other developers in order to get more games to play across platforms, also known as cross-play.
Sounds great, right? But even though gamers have been asking for this for many years, it might actually be bad for your game experience, at least if you’re a console gamer.
Don’t get me wrong, the concept of cross-play is great. It lets friends on different platforms play with each other and allows for a healthy online community where there’s always someone to play with.
Still, there are three big problems with cross-play at least from the perspective of a gamer who plays mainly on consoles.
To start, PC gamers have an advantage control-wise. A mouse and keyboard will always reign supreme over controllers. There is simply no comparison between the two even if a game provides aim assist to a person playing on a controller. The accuracy that comes with an entire hand controlling a gaming mouse far exceeds what is possible with a thumb on an analog stick.
Let’s also not forget about all the variations that come with a mouse and keyboard. There are gaming mice with multiple customizable buttons, different ergonomic designs to better fit a person’s hand and ridiculously accurate optical sensors. Then there are the gaming keyboards with tactile feedback and more customizable buttons.
Compare that with a PS4 or Xbox One controller that offers a minimal amount of button layout options. The only upgrades available are elite versions with slight modifications or third-party controllers with slightly quicker buttons as well as extra triggers on the back. Both consoles do support a keyboard-and-mouse setup, but let’s face it, almost everyone is playing with a controller.
Expect PS5 shortages this holiday season
Then there’s the hardware. A mid-range gaming PC will push more frames per second than an Xbox One or PS4 with a display that has a higher refresh rate. This means a PC player can see a console player fractions of a second sooner than a console player can see them.
On top of that, some PC games and monitors have performance settings to reduce input lag, which is the milliseconds it takes for a button press to appear on the screen. While some TVs do have a similar option and optimized for gaming, the Xbox One and PS4 themselves do not.
The last, and probably the biggest problem, is that cheating on PC is rampant. There is a wealth of software available to cheat at any multiplayer game. Some of the most common are aimbots that let a cheater shoot from whatever distance with whatever gun and receive perfect headshots each time.
Fortnite and Call of Duty Warzone are two popular multiplayer games with cross-play, and console players in both communities have called for a stop to cross-platform matchmaking. They’re the canary in the coal mine of issues with cross-play and developers need to be aware of this before they open the floodgates and leave console players to drown. The games’ developers — Epic and Infinity Ward, respectively — are routinely banning cheaters, but the problem continues on.
This is a plea to developers: If you’re thinking about adding cross-play to your game, please keep consoles and PC gamers separate.