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Xbox and PC gamers can finally battle as Microsoft rolls out cross-network play

Microsoft is breaking down the barriers that have long divided online gameplay in multiplatform video games, as the company announced today that licensed Xbox developers can now enable support for cross-network multiplayer with non-Xbox consoles and PCs.

The first game to offer cross-network multiplayer is Psyonix’s Rocket League, which is now open to “Xbox One and PC players, with an open invitation for other networks to participate as well.”

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The feature is optional both for developers and for players, as Microsoft notes that “Xbox Live players will always have the option of choosing to play only with other Xbox Live players.” Microsoft’s newly relaxed standards also apply to games released for Windows 10, as developers can now enable multiplayer PC gameplay across independently operated networks and online services in addition to Xbox Live.

Xbox Live will also grow its presence on PC platforms with the launch of Microsoft’s ID@Xbox program on Windows 10. The addition will allow developers to use Xbox Live for online gameplay and matchmaking in Universal Windows Platform games, at their option. Multiple PC games with Xbox Live support via ID@Xbox are already in the works, as Microsoft announced that “hundreds of developers have committed to shipping on Windows 10 with Xbox Live.”

Microsoft’s policy change dramatically expands its Xbox Live online gaming service, which until this week has been the exclusive domain of Xbox 360 and Xbox One games, in addition to select Windows PC titles. Xbox Live launched in 2002, and has since grown into a multiplatform service that requires players to maintain an active paid subscription in order to access the multiplayer modes in supported Xbox 360 and Xbox One games.

Microsoft also revealed that it will continue its Xbox Game Preview program after a strong launch last year, and notes that support for MonoGame’s open-source programming framework is coming to the Xbox One “soon.”