Call of Duty: Modern Warfare's crossplay is what gaming always should have been

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Gunfight

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Gunfight (Image credit: Activision)

This weekend, I managed to get my friends together to play Call of Duty for the first time ever.

I've been playing Call of Duty near religiously for the better part of a decade. But real-life commitments, growing families and the wealth of different gaming platforms has kept us apart. Two or three of us might have managed to clump together on one platform, but we've never managed to get the six of us together in one place.

That all changed this weekend.

During the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare crossplay beta, I managed to group up with all six of us, across the Xbox One, PS4 and PC as easily as if we were all playing on the same platform. We jumped into several hours of games without any real issues, with my progress effortlessly switching between the Xbox in my bedroom and my PC in the living room. No fuss, and hardly any pain points at all once we've added each other as friends on my newly created Activision account.

All it left me with was the feeling: "Shouldn't gaming have always been like this?"

"PC gaming is supposed to be hard work!"

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (Image credit: Activision)

For the entirety of the 2000s, my gaming friends would crow on about how gaming on consoles was effortless, but gaming on the PC was hard. There was a lot of hidden judgements hidden in this as if somehow playing on the PC was more worthy. This was reinforced by tales of my friends plugging hour after hour into obscure strategy games on the internet. We played in darkened rooms at 11 PM until the early hours, as it's the only time you could get uninterrupted internet time in a world before Broadband.

Tales of broken installs, weird internet connectivity issues and failed mod installations were slung around like tiny badges of honour. As someone eager to play strategy titles with my friends, I dutifully built a PC and got involved.

PC offered more freedom; I just wanted things to be easy.

If I learned anything from my first attempt at PC gaming, it's that I'm lazy. And while I genuinely believe that the level of control you got over your experience with a PC offered more freedom, I just wanted things to be easy.

And over time, the boundaries have come down. Building and maintaining a PC has never been more accessible. In a world where a Google search bar is your tech support, answers are always at your fingertips. YouTube videos can show you the finer points of everything from reseating RAM to replacing a faulty graphics card.

And, sure, I'm not a massive fan of having to buy my video games from one of a score of different digital storefronts. The fact that they exist and will happily look after my screenshots, backups and — in some cases — even take care of the modding and problem solving for me, has really eased all of those pain points for playing on PC.

So, despite that fact I have every gaming device of this generation, I tend to default to playing games on my PC, except for the few games where I've been unable to carry my progress with me from the PlayStation or Xbox over to my PC, and I've remained there, grumpily. These big invisible chasms between the different platforms that keep them all siloed from each other have become one of the last problematic areas for gamers who want to spend their free time playing games, rather than trying to solve problems.

Gaming in the future

Fortnite's massive success was the first time crossplay came to my mind. A brief experiment between the PC and Xbox 360 with the agonisingly mediocre Shadowrun led to a belief that PC gamers were blessed with better aiming with their mouse, and console gamers could get better mobility out of their controllers. Crossplay was dismissed as A Bad Idea, and we moved on. Then Fortnite came along, conquered the world, and started to mix things up. Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games, said he wanted to bring every platform together, letting everyone from the Mobile to the PC and all the gaming devices in the middle team up together with cross-progression.

The Fortnite experiment worked, beyond a few teething issues that would occasionally lead to a mobile player gazing thoughtfully at a wall as the godless killers from the PC ambushed them.

Now, with one of the biggest shooter franchises in the world adopted crossplay and cross-progression, it feels like we're finally gaming the way we were meant to. The adoption of crossplay by Call of Duty means that it's now a 'thing' for annual gamers. You know, the hundreds of thousands of players who only really check in on video games once a year when they buy the yearly iteration of their favourite shooter. These gamers might have missed the crossplay innovation Fortnite brought us. Once these annual purchasers get used to the benefits, it will vastly increase their pool of opponents. And with crossplay and cross-platform allowing you to play with anyone on PC or otherwise -providing you're happy to buy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare in several places- you can carry your progression wherever you want to play.

As gaming machines get more and more alike and, selfishly, I have less time to game and am even more grumpy about the idea of troubleshooting when I am. I hope the crossplay and cross-progression that is shown here becomes the standard.

Modern Warfare digital preorders via the Microsoft Store do not provide a redeemable code; early-access purchases are linked to your Microsoft Account for seamless access. To download the beta client, search "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare" via the Xbox storefront.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare digital Xbox One preorders also remain available, starting at $60.

Jake Tucker

Jake Tucker has been writing about video games and technology for a decade, which he loves. He is better at this than writing about himself, which he does not. He's on Twitter on _Jaketucker.