As one of the originators of the battle royale, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was once nearly synonymous with the genre. Its hardcore, squad-based gameplay made it an absolute phenomenon on streams, and it still maintains a popular place on sites like Twitch. Times have changed, though, and games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Call of Duty: Warzone have come for PUBG’s crown, drawing away players and viewers with the twists they add to the battle royale formula.
That being said, there’s still plenty of reason to dive into PUBG. It still receives regular updates to keep its content fresh, and its signature mix of difficult, tactical play with a little bit of jank can’t quite be matched by any other game out there. Now that PUBG is available on so many different platforms, there’s even more reason to try it out and see if you can pick up that all-important chicken dinner with some friends. Before starting a multiplayer game with a presence on so many platforms, though, players looking to get their crew together will want to make sure they understand how cross-platform play works in PUBG.
The short answer is that PUBG does have cross-platform support — for some players. Cross-play in any form is actually a relatively recent addition to PUBG. Though the game has been available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC for quite a while now, PUBG only added console cross-play in October 2019. That move combined the previously separate player pools of the PS4 and Xbox One versions of the game, allowing matches to be filled with players on both consoles, making it quicker and easier to fill a lobby with players and get a match going.
At first, although PUBG had combined its player pools, players could still only form parties with others on their own console. That changed in February 2020 with the addition of PUBG’s cross-party play update. With that update, PUBG introduced a combined friends list that let players see friends on their own network — whether that was Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus — as well as a list of PUBG Friends on the other network. From there, Xbox and PlayStation players could form squads and jump into the game together regardless of the platform.
PUBG arrived on Google Stadia much later than on other platforms, in April 2020. However, that long wait did have an upside, as PUBG featured cross-platform play on Stadia on its release day, putting Stadia players in the same matchmaking pool as those on other consoles. That’s especially good news for those on the Stadia side, as its significantly smaller install base could make finding full matches a challenge if it didn’t feature any kind of cross-play.
One big caveat to PUBG’s cross-play should be obvious here. While the battle royale is available on PC and mobile devices in addition to consoles, those platforms aren’t included in the game’s cross-platform pool. As of now, PC and mobile PUBG players can only join matches with players on the same platform, and developer PUBG Corp. doesn’t seem to have any plans to change that in the works.
The somewhat limited cross-play in PUBG may be frustrating for PC and mobile players, but there’s a good reason behind it. PUBG is absolutely a game of skill, and a lot of what separates top players from the rest is their ability to react quickly to enemy players and take them out with perfectly-aimed shots.
Anyone who’s played a shooter with multiple different control schemes can tell you that your method of input has a massive impact on how well you’re able to pull off those split-second, high-accuracy shots. If PUBG’s player pool were to be fully combined across all platforms, mobile players with fiddly touch controls would hardly stand a chance, while PC players with more accurate keyboard and mouse controls could dominate against all but the most skilled console players.
This divide in control setups can even be seen in PUBG’s implementation of cross-play on Stadia. Google’s streaming service allows players to play its games on multiple devices with different control schemes, but Stadia’s version of PUBG only has cross-platform support with consoles when players elect to use a controller. Players using a mouse and keyboard are stuck in an entirely separate matchmaking pool without cross-play. That’s bad news for Stadia PUBG players who want to use a mouse and keyboard, but it’s necessary to keep things fair for all players.
It’s not out of the question that PUBG could bring PC players into the matchmaking pool from a technical standpoint. Input-based matchmaking has been added to Fortnite, for instance, and it’s promised to come to Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Similar to how cross-play is handled on Stadia, PUBG could feasibly let PC players join the console matchmaking pool if they set aside their keyboard and mouse for a controller, but it seems the developer has other priorities for now.
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