Cross Platform Play and Nintendo

I think it is safe to say that many gamers have wanted cross platform play for a long time. I know that I have. I remember back in the day when a game called Shadow Run was supposed to break the barriers between systems down and open a whole new world of online play. Do you remember that game? No? Well, it wasn’t on shelves long, and the $60 price tag quickly dropped down to less than $10, as the game became almost instantly obsolete. There was no single player, but only multiplayer online (much like the recent Titanfall, though that game has way more content). I remember my PC buddy and I playing it together and thinking that it was the future of gaming. However, when the game flopped, all talks of cross platform play dissipated into the nothingness of half-baked ideas within the gaming world.

Fast forward to 2014 – Nintendo has a Smash Bros centered Direct arriving today, with “all kinds of information.” I get the sense that something big may actually be announced, and I can only hope that it has to do with cross platform play. But how do I come to that conclusion (or wishful thinking, whichever you like)? Here’s why:

– Cross Platform Could Never Work With PC Gaming. The problem that Shadow Run had was that it tried to cross consoles and PCs. This instantly proved troublesome, as controls were very different, and PC controls tend to be much quicker and more responsive, so, therefore, PC gamers already had an advantage. The game studio “dumbed” the PC version down to make it a more even playing field, which instantly singled out the PC users, thus losing a large portion of their base. It’s no wonder the game flopped. Nintendo, however, has a chance to really start a new trend here (the Vita sort of does this, but not very effectively or efficiently). It seems that the Wii U and 3DS could be fairly easy to build the same game for both systems (I mean, look at the GamePad and the concept of the two screens and tell me you don’t think of a 3DS). And the rumors of the “next Nintendo console” named Fusion would combine the two markets (I don’t think that is “next gen,” but perhaps a massive update for THIS gen). And, Nintendo wouldn’t have to “dumb” down either system’s play, since they are both controlled similarly. Nintendo is already ahead of the game (pun intended): their systems seem like they would be very compatible as far as gameplay goes, and both use the same Nintendo Network. Seems like a possibility, right?
– Nintendo Wouldn’t Have to Deal with Licensing. Since they own both systems, and it is a first party title, Nintendo wouldn’t have to deal with red tape and licensing to get the game out. Simple and effective.
– Nintendo Originally Said the Games Would Be Very Different from Each Other. This was to entice players to buy both versions of the game – some characters would appear one one version, while others on the opposite system. Same thing applied to levels as well. But, what has been different between the two versions, really? Nothing, that’s what. So why would I buy both versions? Well……cross platform play would cause me to buy both. I could play the same game either on the go, or sitting on my couch.
– Nintendo are Masters at Local Multiplayer. It seems as though Nintendo has finally caught up with online play and made a decent online system, so I expect Smash Bros to have well done online play. But having the cross platform would simply expand Nintendo’s reach on multiplayer and really push it forward into the online arena. This would be a huge step, not only for Nintendo, but for the gaming world in general; only if they successfully create fun, efficient cross platform play.

I’m holding out hope that in a couple hours I hear those words: cross platform play. That would make this Direct perfect, for me, regardless of whatever else they had to share. I’m sure that is a pipe dream, though, and will get something a little less dramatic. Come on, Nintendo, wow us!

Do you think cross platform play would help sell Wii U and 3DS hardware?

~Mike

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