One of the highlights of my youth was having a group of my friends (The Boys) come over to play games like Golden Eye or WCW vs NWO Revenge on the Nintendo 64. There was so much amazing trash talking and just general goodness playing games together; it made life so enjoyable as a youth.
When we have the opportunity to connect now, The Boys and I often reminisce about those days gone by and often visualize how great it would be to play the same games but on different consoles together. You see, we became casualties of what was infamously known as the Console Wars, a period of time in the gaming community that would split the fabric of gaming by having gamers choose a side: Nintendo, PlayStation or Xbox. Choosing sides meant that we could not play the sports or fighting games developed by the same company if we were not on the same console.
Although I understand why this exclusivity existed, I’m sadden on how much of an impact it ultimately rendered on my friendships. Forest from the tress, I shutter to think how many other friendships were butchered by this senseless war. But as luck would have it, things seem to be changing for the better.
In this digital age, third party publishers are sluggishly coming around to seeing their power independent of the console’s manufacture and introducing Cross-Play. With the world’s morale in the gutter due to the Pandemic of 2020, this couldn’t have come at a better time.
What is Cross-Play?
This weekend, I was ecstatic as I experienced my first true hands-on opportunity with Cross-Play and it literally brought a tear to my eye. Cross-Play is the idea or concept that if you have the same game, it doesn’t matter what console you or your friends choose, you can still play together.
Xbox can play with PlayStation and they can play with Nintendo and so on. Sounds crazy, I know but what better way to raise spirits in gaming than by truly removing the one obstacle that has single handedly decimated relationships.
Quick Shout Out
Like Randy Orton delivering a RKO, I received a follow out of nowhere from AJ Marinaccio on Twitch Saturday night. I was admittingly skeptical because the invite came without any commentary in my chat which is typically a sign of either a bot or sub for sub then ditch campaign in an effort to grow ones channel. When I viewed his channel, he was live and playing the same game as I was. Luckily my suspicions were wrong.
I ended up watching his stream for a couple of hours and engaged in like minded conversations with him and his audience. When I advised him that I was taking off, he proposed that we do a co-stream on Sunday. I graciously agreed after the conclusion of the football game.
Now I knew our game supported Cross-Play but I was really skeptical about how it would work out. I had so many questions from the friends request, how it would look on screen and our mics. Like the consummate professional AJ was, he walked me through it and I’m eternally grateful. Thanks AJ. Please give my boy a follow.
The Cross-Play Experience
As I stated earlier, I was skeptical that the game experience would be a smooth process but in all honesty, it really wasn’t that bad. We had a few hiccups with the invite process. See he was using a Xbox One while I was fan-boying it up with my PlayStation 4 (PS4). When he sent the invite, it didn’t seem to take right away. I couldn’t tell if it was lag or something else but I do recall my hype meter souring quickly.
We decided to switch it around and I sent the invite to him and oh my word, IT WORKED!! We were in the game. As we were about to start our initial run together, one of AJ’s audience member wanted to join the fray and since this game was a three player squad game, we said, “why not.” Enter Hainz (and yes, give him a follow.)
Now get this. We were a three man squad, literally using three different console platforms, from three different parts of the world. AJ from the West Coast of America donning the Xbox Sticks, Hainz from Australia with the quick PC key work and myself from Texas making it happen on PS4 ; all playing and streaming the same game simultaneously.
This was mind blowing for me considering my journey into gaming. I thought to myself and repeated to them constantly (sorry guys) how great it was to really take advantage of Cross-Play. Hours playing with these guys felt like minutes sifting away in an hour glass. It was so much fun and a new friendship manifested.
The Cross-Play Tools
Aside from the game supporting Cross-Play, we ran into a few snags early on with the audio. If I had to pin point it, I think it was due to the fact that we were all streaming which created a bit of a feedback loop. Quick thinking AJ came up with an alternative solution for in-game chat which was Discord. If you read my previous blog, about doing virtual conferences correctly, then you know how high I am on Discord. I plan to do a future blog on the topic so I won’t go into full detail but in general it is a free chat tool specifically catered to gamers (but can be used by any industry with a community).
AJ was full of surprises as another tool he introduced to Hainz and myself was Rare Drop Multi. This one caught me by surprised but it is literally a tool that will show in real-time the streams of everyone involved side by side. As a spectator this is amazing but as a streamer, this tool is next level and will help in increasing your reach if promoted correctly.
Overall this was a good night and it reestablished my faith in gaming again. It bears repeating but shoutout to AJ and Hainz for showing me that gaming together can still be fun. Hopefully more games like Apex Legends will incorporate Cross-Play among the platforms. Gaming is always better when you can do it together with no boundaries. Hasta!