The company behind Steam phenomenon PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds has announced cross-platform play is under consideration, but this has sparked a debate over whether it's possible to achieve the balance between PC and console play competitive players demand.
Speaking to VG247 earlier this week, executive producer Chang Han Kim revealed cross-platform play between PC and console is "definitely" something Battlegrounds wants to do. Though the team doesn't anticipate it will have any issues on the technical side, there is the glaring issue of balance considering the competitive nature of the game.
"That's what's making it difficult for us to do right away," he said. "If we're going to allow players to use controllers we need to have the aim assist added in and things like that. We're not going to be supporting it right away, but it's something we'd like to look into later."
The mention of aim assist has brought into question whether it is ever possible to balance PC and console gameplay, especially in competitive shooters such as PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.
Cross-platform play allows console users to play alongside PC users. The main issue PC gamers have raised is whether aim assist is fair, with a thread on reddit reaching hundreds of comments. The argument is that not all PC gamers will thrash console users because not all players of Battlegrounds are actually good at it.
Redditor ZebraCommander7 is all for cross-platform play, but isn't a fan of aim assist. "Yes to cross-platform, no to aim assist," he commented. "Cross-platform should be optional for all parties. KB+M may have a natural advantage, but not all PC players are going to wreck all console players and they should have the option to jump into the deep end if they'd like."
Wild_Swimmingpool, however, took a dim view of the entire cross-platform idea, saying: "I could care less about the cross-play but if they intended on putting aim assist in for console players then they can fuck off. Too often the introduction of the console version ends up watering down the experience."
Cross-platform play has been added to a number of competitive multiplayer games in the past. Back in January, Gears of War 4 introduced cross-platform play between Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs, with console users having the option of aim assist. This currently only applies to quick play games as the developer wanted to "ensure Ranked experiences are as closely matched and competitive as possible". However The Coalition announced in April it had plans to introduce a ranked cross-play toggle for Xbox One players later this year.
Overwatch has encountered the same issue of balance, but ruled out cross-platform play altogether two years ago after deciding PC users would have an unfair advantage, despite console users having aim-assist.
That's not to say cross-platform play doesn't work. Alongside Gears of War 4, Minecraft and Rocket League have successfully moved to cross-platform. However, it is the competitive, shooter nature of Battlegrounds, and the fact you get thrown into a game with people of all levels, which makes it more difficult to transition to cross-platform.
With PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds set for a timed exclusive release on Xbox One in November, it'll be a while before we see cross-platform play - if at all.