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 Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Paladins: Champions of the Realm, all of which support crossplay. Thankfully, Blizzard is adding the feature before the launch of Overwatch 2.
Blizzard announced that cross-platform support is coming to Overwatch “soon.” Although there isn’t a set release date yet, Blizzard will start a beta sometime in the near future that lets players across PC and console play together. Cross-platform support is coming to PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch as part of the matchmaking process.
Cross-platform support comes through a 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. PC players can’t turn off the feature.
Although crossplay is coming 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.
“Given the additional complexities of cross-progression, it would probably make [the] most sense to tackle crossplay first and then explore progression as a potential add-on if we go this route,” Overwatch technical director John Lafleur said in a Reddit AMA.
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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