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Be careful what you wish for: It used to be players begged for crossplay, and Sony was vilified for being the one holdout that would not allow it. Now that the trend favors cross-platform action, Sony seems to be the only one that has gotten it right.
In November, Xbox players were up in arms about the rampant cheating in Halo Infinite's multiplayer mode. They demanded that Microsoft or 343 Industries deal with the cheaters or allow a way to disable crossplay with PC players. Just days later, 343 acknowledged the problem and said cheaters would be "dealt with," but so far, little or nothing has been done, and the crossplay dilemma is coming to a head.
It's not just Halo Infinite that has a problem with cheaters. Call of Duty: Warzone has been plagued with aimbots and other hacks since nearly day one. This situation is not unique, of course. Most online multiplayer games have to contend with aimbots and other exploits. Free-to-play games are even more problematic since nothing stops cheaters from creating a new account when banned.
Furthermore, since those not playing fairly are almost exclusively PC players, it seems that adding a settings toggle to turn off crossplay would be a simple solution—at least for the console players. Indeed, Warzone recently added an option to disable crossplay, but it seems to be borked for Xbox.
With crossplay disabled, loading into a multiplayer game prompts players to turn on crossplay. On Xbox, users must enable crossplay to continue, while on PlayStation, players can dismiss the prompt and continue with crossplay disabled. It would appear that Microsoft wants its users intermixing between console and PC whether they wish to or not. Even though there are workarounds to disable crossplay globally, it creates other issues, including causing matchmaking to take forever (video below).
"Can you please explain why an xbox player is still being forced to square off against PC players in COD Warzone?" one user asked in the Microsoft community forum. "Is this a you thing, or a them thing? I'd like to know who's holding the keys here, and why. I'm all for cross play against Playstation players, the advantages and disadvantages are the same - but this forced cross play thing is really not cool, especially when its optional for only the other platforms."
The stance Microsoft and Xbox seem to be taking with crossplay is counter to its past view. In 2016, Xbox boss Phil Spencer told Gamespot that Xbox players would never be forced to play with PC players because it would be unfair.
"I'll never force somebody in our games whose [sic] playing with a controller or a mouse and keyboard to play against somebody with a different control scheme," Spencer promised. "Mouse and keyboard rotation speed is faster than controller. We know that, you'll lose."
What happened to this attitude? Spencer's promise is something that has passed to the wayside as being not that important anymore. It is certainly not due to the developers finding it too hard to have an on/off switch for crossplay.
When Dice launched Battlefield 2042, crossplay was the only option for Xbox players, but PlayStation owners could disable it. After some complaining, the developer added the option to Xbox as well. It is unclear why it seems that Xbox is forcing the issue. If PlayStation owners can turn off the feature, why can't Xbox players?
TechSpot has reached out to Xbox for comment on the matter. We will update this article if we hear back.