“It’s finally happening,” Rocket Leaguecreative director Corey Davis tells me. He’s talking about cross-platform parties and “finally” is an appropriate word. This is maybe the most oft-requested feature from players, but it’s not as simple as flipping a switch. There’s a reason that hardly any other games have been able to implement it.
I sat down with Davis earlier this month at PAX West to have a nearly hour-long conversation about the short- and long-term future of Rocket League. He detailed everything that’s coming in the Fall Update, but one unseen addition will be the framework that allows for cross-platform parties. It’s not imminent but Psyonix is getting started soon.
Sometime in October, Psyonix plans to roll out a Steam beta test for cross-platform parties. While it’ll be confined to just PC, the goal here is to a) load test for eventually scaling up to handle 100 percent of Rocket League‘s users and to b) implement the game’s own friends system.
Davis explainsRocket League‘s friends program as such: “For now, this just brings in your Steam friends list. The goal is that it’ll sync all of your friends automatically so you don’t have to do a bunch of legwork. But, if you want to add someone from another platform, you’ll find like their Psyonix Friends ID and add them that way. Essentially, if your friend is on vacation with his Switch, you’d somehow look his account up through our system, add him, and then you guys could party up and play,” Davis said. He added “All this is really doing is taking us from relying on Steam’s and Xbox’s and PlayStation’s parties to our own backend.”
While this will initially just be tested on PC, the idea is to integrate other platforms sometime early next year. After that’s done, it’s just a matter of stitching together the cross-platform stuff. Davis also mentions that theRocket Leagueservers are all platform agnostic and that the only reason the developer added rules to keep matchmaking separate is because it was required to by the platform-holders.
Psyonix doesn’t have the full-on green light, though. There are a couple of hangups which may potentially never get resolved. For instance, Davis says that he can’t yet answer whether players will be able to form PlayStation to Xbox parties. “We’re still talking to partners,” he said. Between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft, it would be hardly surprising if one or more of them flatly refused to allow cross-platform parties with their direct competition.
Similarly, it’s unclear how a chat system might work (especially givenhow convoluted the Switch’s voice solutioncurrently is). For now, Psyonix says that it’s “working with partners regarding what restrictions would need to be in place for cross-platform friends.” Also, it still seems as if trading items across platforms won’t be an option. Psyonix’s stance on that right now is “We don’t have any current plans to support cross-platform trading primarily because our partners have policies that forbid trading most of what players would want to trade.”
Even with the caveats, the implementation of cross-platform parties is a huge development forRocket Leagueand possibly for the future of other multiplayer games. That’s especially true if Psyonix manages to get platform-holders to agree to let one console play with another. Even if it’s just PC to console though, it’s still a big step toward uniting people with their friends who play elsewhere.