It’s look like the upcoming Game Developers Conference is San Francisco will be an opportunity for Microsoft to unveil some exciting things. A session about a new cross-platform “XDK” was spotted by Windows Central yesterday, and this looks to be all about expanding Microsoft’s Xbox Live network to more platforms including iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch:
Now Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger. 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.
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.
There are already a couple Microsoft casual games that require an Xbox Live account on iOS and Android, including Wordament or the soon to be discontinued Age of Empires: Castle Siege. The new “Bedrock” version of Minecraft goes even further, leveraging Xbox Live to enable crossplay on all platforms including the Nintendo Switch.
Microsoft has been interested in bringing Xbox Live to other platforms for quite some time. A similar initiative has been described in a Microsoft job posting from five years ago, though those efforts didn’t immediately materialize. However, we've seen Mike Ybarra, Corporate Vice President of Xbox Program Management at Microsoft calling developers to integrate Xbox Live functionality to their games last year.
I’m not really device specific. I am service specific. I love that Xbox Live lets me share what I’m doing, meet people, show my gaming accomplishments, etc. I use Live everywhere I can - PC, Xbox, iOS, Switch. I wish all games used Live for community and would welcome any devs. https://t.co/YqHqG0yeN8
— Mike Ybarra (@Qwik) December 30, 2018
The same Mike Ybarra has been pretty vocal about making crossplay and cross-progression a standard in video games. A few games such as Minecraft and Rocket League now supports cross-platform multiplayer across Xbox One and PlayStation 4, but it seems that cross-progression (the ability to start a game on a select platform and pick up where you left off on another one) is going to be the next frontier for the video games industry. This is really an area where Xbox Live cloud saves could really help, as cross-progression is already present on Xbox Play Anywhere games for Xbox One and Windows 10.
I really want cross progression on all games. I play on PC and Xbox so much, wish all games supported this. The people I play with do the same so we constantly debate to play new games together on PC or Xbox - just shouldn't need to be a discussion. Let's make it happen!
— Mike Ybarra (@Qwik) July 10, 2018
In addition to this new cross-platform XDK, we've also spotted another Microsoft GDC session dedicated to Project xCloud, the company's upcoming game streaming service. "Developers already building games for Xbox will learn how Project xCloud will make it easy to get that entire catalog running on mobile," the session description reads. GDC will kick off on March 18, and we hope to learn more about Microsoft's plans ahead of the event.