War Thunder will not be coming to Xbox One any time soon. Why? Well, apparently because Microsoft won't allow cross-play between PC and Xbox One, according to the game's publisher Gaijin Entertainment.
“Microsoft is not allowing cross-play completely; which means [War Thunder] cannot be on Xbox One,” Gaijin CEO Anton Yudintsev said in an interview with Gamespot.
According to Yudintsev [paraphrased by Gamespot], "Microsoft needs to certify game servers as a means to ensure a 'good experience' for all players. This isn't possible under the current circumstances."
Asked about the possibility of cross-play last year, Phil Spencer teased that leveraging Microsoft's influence across PC to combine with the Xbox One would "make sense":
“I’m not allowed to leak things [smiles]," he said at the time. "But I think what you’re talking about makes a lot of sense. Now you have differences in Windows gaming and console gaming around control and input… in fact if you go back to Shadow Run on Xbox 360 — something I worked on — we had PC players playing against Xbox 360 customers. We didn’t have tremendous success with that, but we learnt a lot from it."
“And then earlier this year we released Skulls of the Shogun, which was a game we launched on all three platforms on the same day, and you could start on one platform and then save the game to the Cloud and play across any of the screens and progress. And then Halo: Spartan Assault has some links between Halo 4 and Spartan Assault, even though they’re very different games.
“This connected ecosystem across all the different devices is definitely where I think the future of gaming is going; you don’t have to do it as a developer, but you have the capability and I think a system like Xbox Live across all those screens where you know who someone is and who their friends are, what their Achievements are and their progression is really critical to that.”
Yudintsev had some stern words for Microsoft, comparing them to the competition, and suggesting that Sony were much more open to new things, indie development, and free-to-play titles.
"Sony is much more open to indie developers and free-to-play games in general. So Sony has been in the free-to-play market for a few years already, they started on the PlayStation 3," Yudintsev said. "Not only that, but Microsoft has a lot of unspoken limitations like if you want to make a free-to-play game you have to talk to an account manager and there are no set of rules; you need to communicate them; and the rule depends on the [individual account manager]. If he likes your game you get approval, if he doesn't you don't get approval."
All of that being said, he did suggest that things would probably change going forwards, if only out of necessity.
"[Microsoft] has to change and they will change," Yudintsev said. "They key is that they understand the necessity of change, so they will. We'll see. I hope we will be [on Xbox One] some day as well. I have nothing against the platform itself especially because I'm not one of those guys who worries about which is better [Xbox One or PS4]. I don't care. It's just the hardware. At the end of the day it's only about the quality of the game and the gameplay experience."
We've spoken before about the opportunity Microsoft has to create an Xbox brand that covers console and PC, and it might well be on its way behind closed doors for Xbox One, but playing coy helps no-one really. There's an argument to suggest that keyboard and mouse players would absolutely ruin gamepad aficionados in most twitch-based competitive multiplayer games, but any kind of decent matchmaking would surely help limit the effects of that. Shadowrun made a hash of PC/Xbox cross-play, but then again Shadowrun was also crap.