Microsoft is planning to launch their Xbox Live service on IOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch.
Don’t adjust your monitors; you read that right. Microsoft is looking to expand their reach and offer their online service across multiple platforms with a new software development kit, according to Windows Central. The official announcement is planned for sometime next month at GDC 2019 and even appeared on the conference’s schedule, but that has been taken down.
In reality, this is just the next step in what appears to be an incremental plan for Microsoft. Xbox Live is already featured in a few titles, most notably Minecraft, which needs an Xbox Live login for the Switch and mobile devices. This new kit will allow even more versatility for developers. Instead of sharing a login, things like multiplayer, cross-platform achievements, and even social aspects of games can be integrated using Xbox Live, giving a good, and reliable, infrastructure to work off of. While this is a strange move for Microsoft at first glance, it seems to be the direction the company has been trending towards. The Xbox brand has been championing cross-platform play in one form or another for years now, and this doesn’t seem too far off-course.
For Nintendo, this will be a huge win. The house of Mario has struggled in the online department, so allowing of some kind of outside help makes a lot of sense. Their online service has been met with a lot of disappointment, so allowing something like Xbox Live to run on their consoles could keep players happy. There’s no word on whether or not Nintendo will adopt the service for first-party titles, but this is great news for third-party support.
As for bringing the service to mobile, this is probably a smart move for Microsoft as well. There’s a massive user base across both Android and IOS, and while there is still a stigma surrounding “cell phone gaming”, that seems to be a thing of the past as devices become more sophisticated and developers have been finding more success launching successful titles to the platforms.
Overall, this is a bold move for Microsoft, but it might make a lot of sense. We’ll just have to wait until GDC to see how it all plays out.