Bethesda reckons that the next-gen consoles are much easier to create multiplatform games on, due to their PC-like architecture, but creating synchronous cross-platform experiences is still hellishly difficult.
"It’s really not easy, but it’s certainly much easier," Bethesda PR man Pete Hines told OXM in a conversation about multiplatform ports. "I’m not trying to insult Sony or Microsoft, but they’re high-end PCs, the way they’re architectured. Though they’re still in development, they’re not done, they’re much easier to develop for.”
The PS4's ease of development has been common knowledge for some time now, but Hines was also upbeat about their main contender. "Are we looking forward to developing on Xbox One?" Hines posited. "Yes. It's a nice robust machine that allows to do lots of cool stuff and put more cool things in the game." However, he reckons that more exciting titles will start to emerge in the years after launch once developers have fully sunk their teeth into the hardware.
Despite this easy development environment, Hines believes that the holy grail of true cross-platform games is still a long way off. “They don’t all play with each other,” he explained. “PC and Mac play together, but Xbox One is its own thing and PS4 is its own thing. The whole cross-platform thing is just a nightmare.” As such, The Elder Scrolls Online will have to run on separate platform-specific servers when it releases next year.
This generation saw Defiance, a game designed specifically for cross-platform play that actually worked perfectly in preview builds, having to axe the functionality because Sony and Microsoft couldn't play ball. Hines' statements mirrors similar news from Sony Online Entertainment, who confirm that superb MMOFPS Planetside 2 will have to run on separate PC and PS4 servers, partly for technical reasons and to sidestep the issues of putting DualShock-toting players in the gunsights of mouse/keyboard users.