The ability to play with other gamers who are on a different platform than your own was something of a myth prior to the last several years of the gaming industry. Now, Xbox Play Anywhere titles like Gears of War 4 and the recent Aragami give Xbox and Windows 10 users an opportunity to enjoy their games together.
However, while this may seem like a fantastic feature, it doesn't come without its flaws. Crossplay has both pros and cons, so let's take a look at each and determine if it's truly a good thing to have.
The pros of crossplay
One of the best things about cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 is that games like Halo Wars 2, which have relatively low populations on both systems, can pool these two communities together in order to create a fairly strong base of players. This takes a lot of stress off of matchmaking systems, and helps ensure that players won't be left waiting for extremely long periods of time in order to find matches.
Another great aspect of crossplay that many people don't mention is portability. Xbox gamers who happen to own a competent gaming laptop can take their computer with them on the go and play it with other Xbox users just as they would at home. Lastly, crossplay gives people the freedom to choose. People who potentially want an Xbox game and have a PC but either don't want or can't afford an Xbox can purchase the title via Play Anywhere and enjoy it just like console players can.
The cons of crossplay
A large problem with Xbox/PC crossplay is that it potentially opens the door for hackers to make their way into Xbox One games. While games sold through the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) on Windows 10 are supposed to be more secure in theory, this isn't always the case. This is an issue that Sea of Thieves faced recently, and though Microsoft has done a good job of bringing down the banhammer since, the risk of running into cheaters is still present.
Another issue present with the concept of crossplay is the inherent advantage that a mouse and keyboard usually has over a handheld controller. Admittedly, mouse and keyboard aren't always better — racing and fighting games are typically easier with a controller — but for the vast majority of game genres, it is. This is especially true with first-person shooters like Overwatch, where aim and movement play a large role when it comes to winning or losing.
So, is crossplay good or bad?
Ultimately, I think that crossplay is a good thing overall, but should be omitted in some scenarios. Multiplayer titles with shooting mechanics like Sea of Thieves should never have crossplay because of both hacking threats and mouse and keyboard advantages, but games that have an emphasis on cooperative play or simpler control schemes that work equally well with both controller and mouse and keyboard can largely mitigate the problems with crossplay and should definitely have it.
What do you think about crossplay between Xbox One and PC? Let me know what you think in the comments.