Cross-play is a core feature of modern games that changed how your online multiplayer experience works. The introduction of cross-play or cross-platform play made online gaming a universal hub for any platform, allowing you to play and socialize with players outside your specific console.
However, while bringing together players from all platforms sounds like a great accessibility and social feature, it does have its flaws. So, if you’re unsure whether you should turn on cross-play in your games, we can help you decide if its drawbacks outweigh its benefits.
What Is Cross-Play Gaming?
Cross-play gaming allows you to play online with players from any platform, not just the console you’re on. This enables you to host or play multiplayer games like Overwatch 2 with friends or random players from any supported console base.
Within supported cross-play games, players from other consoles often have a symbol near their username to highlight a console player or a PC player. Most commonly, console players have a controller symbol, and PC a mouse and keyboard.
So cross-play gaming, in general, is a unifying feature on selected games that aligns your online experience with other gaming platforms through online play and accessibility features. However, the implementation of cross-platform play received pushback from the gaming industry.
So, what are the benefits and drawbacks of the feature?
The Drawbacks of Cross-Play Gaming
When it comes to playing with online players from numerous gaming platforms, not everything is as it seems, and you may experience a few drawbacks to cross-play gaming. Let’s take a look.
Cross-Play Gaming Is Inherently Unbalanced
Matchmaking with players online from other gaming platforms has unavoidable consequences and drawbacks. Most egregiously, when cross-playing a game with both PC and console players, you may experience biases in your favor if you’re on a PC or against you if you’re on a console.
There are unmistakable benefits of playing on a keyboard and mouse compared to using a controller. A mouse provides you with quicker reflexes, particularly for aiming, and a keyboard allows you to bind gameplay mechanics to suit your play style. A controller is simply more restrictive, with sluggish analog sticks and binding options.
For cross-play, having players from both PC and console in a match means that you have PC players with a distinct advantage over the console players if they use a mouse and keyboard.
Mixing you with players from either PC or consoles means that your game could be skewed for or against you, causing an online game to become entirely unbalanced—an issue already affected by modern gaming’s reliance on battle pass systems that alters the way you play games.
Cross-Play Creates a More Competitive Online Environment
A further issue on the gameplay side of cross-play features is games becoming more competitively orientated regardless of whether it’s a casual or ranked match. Because of issues around online balancing with cross-play titles, your online experience has to be skill-based to accommodate for the skill-level or set-up biases of platforms like PC.
Even if the game you decide to play is causal instead of competitive, if cross-play is enabled, games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II will still group you with players of similar skill. If skill-based matchmaking isn’t used in a cross-play title, you would always run the risk of having your online experienced ruined by players with distinct platform biases.
Therefore, enabling cross-play comes with the unfortunate necessity of always being grouped based on skill when searching for an online game which, in turn, creates a competitive environment.
If you are looking for an online game where you don’t have to play competitively, you may want to disable cross-play on your game or console.
How Cross-Play Gaming Benefits You
Now that we’ve looked at some drawbacks of cross-play gaming, let’s explore its positive aspects that improve your gaming experience.
Cross-Play Gaming Reduces Matchmaking Times
Because of the inclusion of multiple platforms, the number of players who could be playing at one given time is increased massively. This means that the time it takes to search for a game when playing online with cross-play should be drastically shorter than if you were searching without it.
Effectively, with cross-play on, you are allowing a vast majority of a game’s player base to play with you. But if it’s turned off, you’re restricting the matchmaking pool to the players using the same gaming platform.
Therefore, cross-play gaming should decrease your online loading times drastically if enabled.
Cross-Play Gaming Breaks Down Social Barricades
The most apparent benefit cross-play gaming will provide is allowing you to expand your social gaming experience beyond your platform. With cross-play, you can play with friends regardless of any platform restrictions that would otherwise be in place.
This not only expands your network of people you will be able to play your games with but also helps to remove any monetary strain from the social aspect of gaming. Instead of purchasing an entire console or new platform to game with your friends, you can utilize cross-play features and play regardless.
As a benefit, the social side of cross-play is undoubtedly the most beneficial and helps to make gaming more connected and accessible.
Should You Turn On Cross-Play or Cross-Platform Gaming?
Cross-play gaming is the future, and you may have already discovered how it can affect your gaming experience for the better and the worse. It allows you to get into games much more quickly while expanding your gaming social circle. But at the same time, it can give you a disadvantage, and every match you play could quickly turn competitive.
The drawbacks of cross-play and how it negatively impacts essential aspects of gameplay means that the feature isn’t entirely all there yet and needs some time to iron out the kinks. In the meantime, many games and platforms, like Xbox, allow you to enable and disable cross-play at your leisure.
If your friend and gaming group play on different platforms, cross-play is definitely a must. But if you’re no longer enjoying your online matches because of overpowered opponents, consider turning off this feature to avoid players with a hardware advantage over you.
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