Many of us grew up with the idea of console or PC wars. We would argue among our friends and workmates about which gaming systems were the best, more often than not convinced that the one we had reigned supreme. While this type of debate still exists, the changing nature of gaming has meant that the argument is rapidly becoming moot. Within just a few years, it might not matter on which device you play, with some games possibly being playable even on the systems of their direct competitors.
An existing precedent
Though the idea of open infrastructures is new in video games, it’s not without precedent for other forms of interactive entertainment. Online casinos, for example, have long offered their games over a variety of systems, with little concern for platform exclusivity or even national borders. Consider this Finnish website comparing the best bonuses, or as they put it, parhaita casinobonuksia. These websites offering deposit matches and free spins are accessible from practically anywhere, and from any device with an internet browser. This is a similar idea to what video games are now attempting, if by a means that’s a little more complicated.
The shift in console and PC
The primary force responsible for a drop-in platform exclusivity is the growing game streaming market. Illustrated by Sony’s PSNow, Microsoft’s xCloud, and Google’s Stadia, all of these systems make games playable on devices they’re usually not accessible from. In these instances, its console and PC games are now playable from other desktops and mobile phones. Though not currently in the same market, Nintendo does a similar thing in making more demanding games playable on the Switch, but not the other way around (yet).
The way these streaming services operate is essentially the same as Hulu or Amazon TV. When running, the difficult work is done off-site, and then the completed data is sent to the user over the internet. The only key difference is that game streaming requires a much faster connection and more active input, an issue that is always going to hold some games – and some players – back.
What’s more important is the end result, where games that were for decades locked to certain systems can now be sent to practically anything with an up-to-date browser. Stadia, in theory, can be played from any modern mobile device. The same can be said about PlayStation games on PSNow, with Microsoft’s xCloud testing similar integration.
A more connected future
The development of more avenues of access hasn’t come out of anywhere. Rather, it reflects the direction of the modern gaming market. Just as better cross-play and cross-purchase support arose in the 8th generation, the 9th is poised to take this idea a few steps further. Video gaming is no longer about isolated systems doing their best to be the only ones. It’s now developed with a more community-centric approach, where it’s not just about finding customers but understanding a place in the pack.
With streaming systems, it could soon be possible to; stream a PlayStation game to an Xbox console and vice versa, at least in theory. It could also be the case that customers could play through many platform exclusive games on other systems, never owning a base device at all. While the ultimate direction will depend on how far the console developers are willing to take it, a more open future is always a good thing. Gaming can be expensive, after all, and the more play we can get for less money down is a win in our book.