Microsoft have done their best to incorporate cross-platform play into a wide variety of games in the last few years. Now, they may have a plan to take that one step further and make Xbox Live available on a number of other devices.
Utilizing cross-platform play is a difficult thing to do as a number of parties have to agree and the technology has to be available to make it work.
Games like Fortnite and Rocket League have shown the success of allowing games to be cross-platform but Microsoft is perhaps looking to innovate further. Now, taking a massive new step, they're looking to go beyond just the normal cross-platform play.
Microsoft is releasing a software development kit (SDK) which will allow game developers to integrate Xbox Live into titles across multiple platforms, according to a statement released by Microsoft on March 14.
The statement details just how it will be possible, as the company creates 'Game Stack,' which puts together all it's key tools and resources, including Xbox Live, Mixer and Azure - with Azure being a key player in the cloud-based service.
As and when your favorite game will be playable through Xbox Live on your handheld device will somewhat rely on the developer's own embrace of the new technology from Microsoft - but the Xbox creator has made some huge steps forward in the process.
Just because Xbox Live is coming to Switch, iOS and Android, doesn't necessarily guarantee that cross-platform play will be available for all applicable games. However, it does make it a lot more likely.
Conference attendees will get an early glimpse of the new SDK technology that will open up the world of cross-platform play even further - allowing titles from Xbox to be played on other devices like the Nintendo Switch and an iPhone and vice versa.
Microsoft have been pushing for more and more cross-play opportunities, even voicing ambitions to pair up players on their rival console, PlayStation 4. With Xbox Live coming to more devices, Microsoft are sure to at least attempt to push more cross-play, which they believe will drive more engagement with players.
It looks possible. According to a report from Direct Feed Games, Xbox are gearing up to add it's Game Pass subscription service to the Switch - handing over access to a huge library of games, including some of their own exclusives.
The report adds that Xbox games would have port versions for the Switch, with a title such as Ori and the Blind Forest mentioned by name.
Xbox's own Gears of War title has a mobile version - Gears POP! - in the works, making it possible that the spinoff game could be headed for the handheld console. However, there is no word on if the service would also be transferred over to iOS or Android.
A further report from GTPlanet states that there may also be a Forza Mobile game in production. Turn 10 Studios, the developers of Forza, are not slated to release a console game in 2019 - instead, looking at their options for a mobile title that could be ported to iOS and Android devices.
Update: Journalist Brad Sams, who has been privy to some interesting Xbox related scoops, said the following in regards to Xbox Game Pass coming to the Nintendo Switch, "There has been a lot of talk out there about Game Pass on the Switch. I'm hearing from multiple sources that is not happening. Let me qualify, that is definitely not happening in the near term. I can't ever say never, because Microsoft wants Game Pass on TV's, they want it on PC's, they want it on Xbox, they want it everywhere with their XCloud stuff, but as of right now I am hearing from multiple people that it isn't coming to the Switch. Obviously things could change and all that good stuff, but yeah don't expect Game Pass on the Switch anytime soon. At least that is what I'm hearing."
The video of Sams discussing this and more can be seen below. Game Pass is discussed at 8:03.
Rumors around the next Xbox console release - codename Scarlett - have suggested that a diskless version may be on the way, utilizing a cloud-based streaming system to run games instead - which would also make it possible to have Live products on other devices.
While it's not yet confirmed if Microsoft is planning to release a console without the ability to use discs, there may be a demonstration of how it could work at the GDC.