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Overwatch cross-platform support: Everything we know

Since the game’s launch in 2015, Overwatch players have been begging for cross-platform support. It’s easy to see why, too. Overwatch lives among massively popular, multiplayer-only shooters like FortniteCall of Duty: Warzone, and Paladins: Champions of the Realm, all of which support crossplay. Thankfully, Blizzard has finally added the feature before the launch of Overwatch 2

Further reading

Is Overwatch cross-platform?

Mei in Overwatch.
Blizzard

Yes, after months of waiting, Blizzard has finally launched crossplay into Overwatch on all platforms. Cross-platform support is now available on PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch as part of the matchmaking process.

Cross-platform support comes through a free Battle.net account, so you’ll need to make one if you’re playing on console. To help players along, Blizzard is giving away a free golden loot box to anyone who signs up for a Battle.net account before the end of 2021. Crossplay is enabled by default on PC and consoles, and console players will be able to turn it off if they want, although you still need to have linked a Battle.net account whether or not you intend on using crossplay. PC players can’t turn off the feature.

Although crossplay has come to Overwatch, cross-progression isn’t. You have to start from scratch when moving between different platforms, so none of your skins, experience, or other unlocks will transfer. It could come in the future, though.

How to enable crossplay in Overwatch

Character in overwatch holding up a shield.
Blizzard

Crossplay is available in all playlists currently in Overwatch, with the exception of the competitive mode. This mode will default to keeping console players playing against each other, and PC players playing against PC players to avoid any advantages PC players have. When a PC player groups up with one or more console player, they will be placed into the PC player matchmaking pool by default.

Now that crossplay is live, we mentioned console players will be required to sign up or link their Battle.net account to keep playing online, so create an account and link the platform you play on (similar to Call of Duty: Warzone). Once you’re done, you’ll be able to see players on other platforms through your Battle.net friends list.

The keyboard and mouse problem

Wrecking Ball in Overwatch.
Blizzard

There are other massive hurdles for Overwatch cross-platform support: The keyboard and mouse. On consoles, Overwatch supports a controller, and on PC, it supports a keyboard and mouse. Despite supporting keyboard and mouse inputs, you can’t use this setup on a PS4 or Xbox One. There are ways around this problem that involve spending a few hundred dollars on an adapter, but we wouldn’t recommend going that route.

In a forum post, Kaplan stated, “The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console.” This statement isn’t an explicit ban threat, but it’s close. Understanding the team’s rationale is essential for soothing frustrations over a lack of support, of course. Suppose one person is using a keyboard and mouse and everyone else uses a controller. The person with a keyboard has an unfair advantage. Sure, you could point to other games that support crossplay regardless of your input device (Modern Warfare is among them). For Overwatch, though, the dev team has decided that it’s too significant an advantage for this particular game.

The Overwatch League is the most noticeable explanation for this position. A player on Overwatch likely has skills that favor one device or another. Their skillset is typically either best on a controller or a keyboard and mouse, and not on both. That said, until all of the different factors across devices become consistent, it isn’t easy to accurately compare skills across matchup results. And since professional players are recognized for measurable skill, consistency must be prioritized across gameplay. Overwatch is recognized for its long-time passion for the playstyle.

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