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Microsoft to let Xbox One games connect with PC and other console networks

Issues "open invitation" for Cross-Network Play, starting with Rocket League.

Microsoft has announced its support for Cross-Network Play, allowing Xbox owners to play games with anyone on PC or PlayStation.

First, the caveats - this invitation has yet to be taken up. There's no suggestion you'll be teaming up with clans of Destiny or The Division anytime soon.

Indeed, Microsoft made the announcement in an update on its ID@Xbox indie publishing program, seemingly limiting this move to smaller-scale games for now - rather than AAA system sellers.

(UPDATE: ID@Xbox boss Chris Charla has since stated Cross-Network Play can in theory apply to any game, indie or not, regardless of where the current focus may be).

But the statement is there - Microsoft will now support Windows 10 and Xbox One owners playing with others on different networks.

"In addition to natively supporting cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 games that use Xbox Live, we're enabling developers to support cross-network play as well," ID@Xbox boss Chris Charla wrote.

"This means players on Xbox One and Windows 10 using Xbox Live will be able to play with players on different online multiplayer networks - including other console and PC networks.

"Of course, it's up to game developers to support this feature, and Xbox Live players will always have the option of choosing to play only with other Xbox Live players."

The first game to support Cross-Network Play will be Rocket League - although, at first, only with regular PC and Xbox One owners.

"Expect to see Rocket League cross-network play working on Xbox One and PC later this spring, with information regarding other platforms coming soon," an update from developer Psyonix has said. Could Xbox and PS4 play actually happen?

In the near term, it's likely that Microsoft hopes it will attract some Steam developers to the idea rather than expecting a sudden marriage between PSN and Xbox Live.

However, its statement that game developers can choose immediately brings to mind Minecraft - a game Microsoft owns which is also available on PlayStation 3, PS4 and Vita.

Microsoft has made no secret of its desire for Minecraft players on all platforms to one day be able to play together - its console team at 4J Studios has been slowly bringing the sandbox's various versions in line with each other.

If there was a game to kickstart a movement where PlayStation and Xbox owners could finally play together - Minecraft would be as good a candidate as any.

Realistically, however, Sony may be happy to keep its network of players to itself for now. It owns the more successful console this generation and may decide it has little to gain from any union with Microsoft.

Regardless, it'll be fascinating to see which multiplatform games will allow Xbox One owners on board.

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