Should developers focus on cross-platform multiplayer gaming?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: April 29, 2011

There’s been a lot said about gaming on our mobile devices. And, there’s no stopping the momentum that the digital medium is facing right now. Apple, Google and Microsoft are all in a position to make gaming on our smartphones not just a fad, but something that’s crucial to the future of our devices. But, as fun as it is playing those games on our mobile phones, the multiplayer aspect of some of these recently released titles is what drives some purchases. Could developers face wider adoption of their games if they broadened their multiplayer outlook, and let gamers play cross-platform titles with their friends?

Right now, multiplayer games aren’t necessarily the standard, but they’re certainly not a novelty, either. There are both high-profile titles from major publishers available to play with friends, as well as smaller titles from smaller developers who’ve reached popularity based on their gaming chops. While these games may be different in the publishing and developer houses, the end results are generally the same: fun. Whether it’s competitive multiplayer or cooperative, playing your favorite games with your friends just adds a sense of awesomeness that’s hard to ignore.

The trouble comes in the fact that most of these multiplayer games are set in their ways. If you’re playing on iOS, then you’ve got to find friends who have an iPhone or iPod Touch to play any games with them. And if you’re on Android or Windows Phone 7, it’s the same fate. Granted, finding folks on any one of these mobile operating systems isn’t necessarily hard, but obviously the gates would open up a lot wider if you could play with anyone, no matter who’s playing on what.

And I think that’s where developers need to start focusing their efforts. Yes, making stand-out titles for a single mobile operating system will still probably be the standard for years to come, but I think if a game developers wants to make a huge splash in the mobile market, especially the gaming one, then creating a stand-out title that offers a robust, cross-platform multiplayer experience is the way to do that.

We’ve already seen the success of cross-platform multiplayer games, and considering the games in question, if we saw more in-depth titles, I believe the success would be ten-fold. Questions like asynchronous multiplayer or live multiplayer matches, those are the questions that developers needs to look at and answer. But the end result should be: cross-platform. We’re in the mobile market, and considering how widespread it is, we shouldn’t be locking our games down to one mobile device. This isn’t like home consoles – we’re all interconnected by our phones, so why shouldn’t we be able to play games with those same people, too?

Let me know what you think of the cross-platform movement, and whether or not you think developers should start focusing more on this market in the future.