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Microsoft wants to bring Xbox Live cross-platform gaming to Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, and more

Minecraft Nintendo Switch
Minecraft Nintendo Switch (Image credit: Windows Central)

At GDC 2019, Microsoft is set to debut a new cross-platform development platform with the goal of bringing Xbox Live support to games on Android, iOS, Nintendo Switch, in addition to PC and Xbox consoles.

Microsoft already has a few games with Xbox Live support across mobile devices, most notably via Minecraft, which requires an Xbox Live login on Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch. Until now, Microsoft reserved Xbox Live support on those platforms for its own games, but now now, Microsoft is aiming to bring Xbox Live cross-platform play to even more titles. Developers will be able to bake cross-platform Xbox Live achievements, social systems, and multiplayer, into games built for mobile devices and Nintendo Switch, as part of its division-wide effort to grow Xbox Live's userbase.

The information comes from the GDC 2019 scheduling website, describing Microsoft's future plans for Xbox Live. Microsoft also plans to leverage its powerful PlayFab suite of backend tools as part of this package, aiming to streamline the process for developers building live games across multiple platforms.

Xbox Live is one of the largest, most engaged gaming communities on the planet with decades of experience providing managed game services to developers that save you time and unlock all of the social and engagement features that players love.

Now Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger. Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK.

Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.

Takeaway

  • Xbox Live players are highly engaged and active on Xbox and PC, but now they can take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen.
  • This will break down barriers for developers that want their communities to mingle more freely across platforms. Combined with PlayFab gaming services, this means less work for game developers and more time to focus on making games fun.

Xbox Live

Xbox Live (Image credit: Microsoft)

There's a large disconnect between the playstyles of mobile gamers when compared to PC and console gamers, but the gap is closing thanks to games like Minecraft, Fortnite, and PUBG, which have all seen gigantic mobile engagement alongside their PC and console audiences. Cleary, Microsoft sees an opportunity to be at the fore of that trend.

As mobile devices become more viable as "core" gaming platforms, Microsoft's service presence on platforms like Android and iOS is becoming increasingly crucial. Combining this new SDK and streaming services like Project xCloud, Microsoft has a chance to tap into a huge new market, while also bringing traditional game developers on PC and console along for the ride. It'll be interesting to see if Redmond can pull it off.

Thanks for the tip Avers!

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

31 Comments
  • Looking forward to earn Gamescore from more games and get social update from my friends playing on different plateforms
  • Yeah but bringing xbox live to android is not enough. We (developers) also want to be able to use our UWP expertise to target android
  • What's wrong with Xamarin?
  • only if UWP is allowed on Google's platforms (Android and ChromeOS).
  • There is platform.uno
  • oh wow! I didn't know about this! looks interesting! I hope Microsoft officially supports it!
  • Its a step in the right direction
  • I've been considering getting a switch and this is one more thing that will help that decision
  • BotW alone is worth the buy, go for it.
  • I need the 1st grade translation
  • Xbox live achievements on Android is a good idea I think in more games.
  • Thank to Windows Phone, Microsoft is becoming son of other OS.
  • This is a brilliant move. And going to really bode well. To. Pave the way for people to check out Xcloud on all these devices. Imahine the free xcloud advertising they can give out on Android and IOS. Also Switch? Xcloud on switch?? Interesting times. Halo and Mario all in one place? This is the difference between Sony and MS. MS are opening up their service greatly whilst still making state of the art Consoles. Sony won't survive 10-15 years down the line holding everything to only their consoles. I know PSnow needs to have all Sony first party on day if launch in the next 2 years otherwise it will be to late.
  • While it's good they are doing this, I've been saying they need to for years. It should have been done from day 1. The fact that Microsoft refuses to attend any mobile gaming conferences, etc. is extremely disappointing. Microsoft has ignored mobile gaming for far too long. I hope they go beyond opening up Xbox Live, and also really try to get the popular mobile games into the Windows Store. Microsoft has no story for touch computing on Surface. No games for people play.
  • Day 1 he says, day 1 of what? Stop talking nonsense 🤨 Things just don't happen like that. It involves resources build up over time. People, dedication, involvement and most importantly seeing it making sense for the company. Xbox grew so much that it has become the driving force that allows Microsoft to make these kind of moves. Unless u work at Microsoft, u have zero idea of what they are up to.
  • When he says they need to have their first party titles launch day one on PS Now, he is referring to the fact that Microsoft launches their first party titles for free, the same day they release to retail, on Xbox Game Pass. This is a huge competitive advantage for Microsoft going forward and a massive value add for consumers. It’s not nonsense if you understand or care to look for the context, cool tone though, you seem level headed and informed. (Though I don’t work in your brain, so I suppose I have zero idea what you’re up to.)
  • They tried as far back as the ps2 era but other companies said no. They tried again with Sony on ps3 and again on ps4. They offered Sony the ability to license xbl technology and servers for use in PlayStation games. It would have allowed for cross platform play without any code changes and would have also given Sony a good network that likely would have been cheaper than building out psn which is still significantly slower than xbl.
  • MS don't need mobile games. With Xcloud available on Mobiles why would anyone want a really bad mobile game when you can access any Xbox Game on your mobile with a controller? That the point. Xcloud becomes the new mobile gaming arena.
  • Master chief, Cortana and other halo characters in Super Smash Bro's Melee? Yes please, however I don't think we will actually see Halo on other platforms as it's a major console seller. Most likely we will see Halo characters in killer instinct.
  • It's too late. Now that Google and Co have their own achievement systems and whatnot Xbox Live support would primarily be another barrier for the customer. Having to log into both a Google account and Xbox Live account to play a game? Relying on two services to not have issues? It really makes little sense.
  • Is google play on iPhone? Switch? Xbox? PC? Understand now? Then add Xcloud…. nevermind.
  • Not the 1st time Microsoft made this push. During the PS2 & 3 era Microsoft offered Sony the ability to license the xbl platform. Sony should have taken them up on the offer considering xbl is significantly faster, more secure, better voice quality, better matchmaking (not only faster but can also use "Gameskill" so it matches players based on skill level), plus it has waaaaay more user facing features and significantly better uptime. Since live launched the only thing online with better uptime is Amazon.com
  • In all honesty the comments I'm about to make are results of an article I've read recently about Apple buying Nintendo out. First Apple buying Nintendo would be a spite move on their behalf because Apple already runs the mobile market in terms of hardware. The only real use Nintendo would serve Apple is an exclusive IP supplier. Nintendo as a hardware manufacturer would all but die with the exception of the inevitable Apple/Nintendo super machine. Yay! Thats what I always wanted!!!! NOT! And here's why. If any major player looked good acquiring Nintendo, the no brainer belongs to Microsoft. Again WHY? First we must look at the eternal complaint of Nintendo not ever having hardware strong enough to push great content and beautifully rendered artwork at high frame rates. Even when Nintendo had the upper hand in power (snes, GameCube) they had slim quantity in comparison to their competition. This issue would be solved with Nintendo having access to the XBOX One X development tools and what system looms as its successor. Second, and this is the beauty, Microsoft has always been under a kind of scrutiny regarding the development of a handheld. Enter Nintendo. I don't even have to argue that they are the undisputed Grandmasters of handheld gaming but I will. Just a bit anyways.😉 The New Nintendo 3DS is an incredible platform to bring games such as the Halo and Gears of War franchise's to. And the SWITCH bumps the power factor up even more. This can be the handheld system that supports the monstrosity that the One X is today. Nintendo can safely abandon home based consoles and move fluidly to Microsofts platform without sacrificing its love and vast knowledge of handheld gaming. While Link on a system as crazy as the One X is a dream as of now, the idea of Apple buying Nintendo, even in the hypothetical, frightens me. These grand concepts and ideas I've just explained would never come to fruition if Apple pulled a Disney move like that. Lets hope Microsoft and Nintendo see this comment folks. Our future of great gaming could depend on it.
  • Lmao, dumbest sh** I've read in weeks. You got quite the imagination, comparable to kids who still believe in Santa. Your prerogative
  • WHAAAT?! This is awesome!!
  • Good luck expecting Microsoft to make such a walled garden known as UWP open source to other OS platforms in a concerted effort
  • Xbox Live, not UWP...
  • cross platform is great. microsoft sucks at it though. the xbox live games on pc is really bad. you have to tab out and launch a separate app to invite a friend for example.
  • Oh no! The return of the "No Xbox no buy!' comments shall descend upon us not many months hence!!!!! 2014 cometh back with a vengeance!!! /s This is great news! I miss my Xbox Live mobile achievements.
  • can't wait to earn achievements while playing super mario odyssey
  • Wish they also support Linux.