Alright, keep this on the downlow and the hush-hush, but the word on the street with all the cool kids is that Microsoft are planning to launch Xbox Live on Nintendo Switch, alongside iOS and Android mobile platforms. It gives devs a first look at the new Xbox Live cross-platform developer kit.
An event entry at the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC), scheduled for the 18th March, has revealed Microsoft's ambitious plans to make Xbox Live the gaming backend for game developers on many platforms around the world. "Any Console Native game now shipping in the Microsoft Store on Xbox will be capable of streaming to a mobile device".
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 nearly every screen.
This would theoretically allow PC, Xbox One, Switch, and mobile games to all co-exist and share the same service for multiplayer, voice comms, and achievements, allowing owners of any of these platforms to play together. The SDK in question is likely what developers will be using to hook into Microsoft's services. Players could even restart select games on one platform at the point where they left off on another. Microsoft says that players will be able to connect "between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox [and] Windows PC". Almost half a billion devices isn't anything to sneeze at, but quadrupling that number to reach 2 billion devices by supporting additional devices would make Xbox Live the most expansive platform around.
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Microsoft has already expanded Xbox Live to some games on other platforms, so this initiative seems to be that on a much larger scale by bringing Xbox Live itself to these devices. The Xbox maker broke the news via a Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2019 panel preview posting.
This plays right into Microsoft's SaaS playbook, create a service, expand it to new platforms, and then grow its user base.
In any case, this is a big move for Microsoft, and one we may not fully see the fruits of until the next generation.