With the rise of the cloud gaming, cross-play or cross-platform gaming has also exploded. With previous console exclusives coming to PC, and some PC games being ported for consoles, cross play is becoming more and more common.
The gap between players on different consoles is constantly getting bridged with more and more games being optimized for cross play. For the purposes of this article, when we say “free” we mean either the whole or the base game. For console players, getting online to play multiplayer may require their platform’s subscription.
Call of Duty: Warzone
Call of Duty has to be one of the most played and the most successful games of all time. Warzone is a free online battle royale and most gamers have at least tried this mammoth of an online game.
The best thing about Call of Duty: Warzone is that you can play with your friends regardless of the platform they play on. There are currently 100 million registered Warzone players and counting. You do not need to own any Call of Duty games to download Warzone and play for free, and with season passes, maps, modes and events being added, there’s always plenty to do.
Activision also periodically releases Zombies for free, which you have a limited time to explore and play. When it comes to realistic looking, free FPS games that are cross platform, there aren’t really that many alternatives to Call of Duty: Warzone.
A move toward cross-play has been a focus for immensely successful Apex Legends for a while, and last year we finally got the ability to play with gamers across platforms.
As with most online competitive multiplayer, cross-platform matchmaking becomes more of an issue for console players than it does for PC players and Respawn rightly acknowledged this. While you can play Alex Legends with anyone on any platform, console players will by default be matchmade with other console players with the option to include PC gamers. The reason for this are the controls and sensitivity. No matter how good the controllers are for the console, they are limited in what they can do and how they can be tweaked for sensitivity. Third party software (within games) can sharpen up the sensitivity, but mostly console players are stick with the standard.
PC players often have an advantage when it comes to aiming and responsiveness if they’re playing with mouse and keyboard, making their precision a lot better by default.
If someone had told me a couple of years ago that a free Chinese mobile game would come out and it would be one of the biggest, best designed and most enjoyable of the year, I don’t think I’d have believed it. Or at least, I wouldn’t have believed it to be anything other than a re-skin of several other micro-transaction ridden mobile games. But I was very wrong, and very pleasantly surprised.
Genshin Impact soared in popularity since its launch last year as a mobile game and has since been added across all platforms.
A co-op option is available for players as well, so you can experience the game with friends regardless of what platform they play on. You will have to do the tutorial and the start of the game on your own, but after that you can experience the game in co-op with your friends regardless of the platform. Genshin Impact is a very beautiful game and a large chunk of it is free. You can play through 20 hours of the game without ever getting adverts to purchase anything, or without even visiting the store. Give it a try if you’re looking for a Zelda-esque experience for free, or like Anime-based games.
Fortnite is an extremely popular and extremely well-known game that doesn’t require a lot of introduction. There are over 350 million registered Fortnite players (over three times the player base of Call of Duty: Warzone), and it just might be one of the most accessible and most widely available games.
It definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re into Fortnite, and you have friends who play, you can join in the fun across all platforms. Much like Apex Legends (and Warzone), if you’re not on the PC you will have the choice of how you match with others (in the spirit of keeping things as fair as possible).
A couple of years ago the immensely popular Destiny 2 became a free-to-play game, and this year it finally became cross platform. This function has been a hot topic among the player base for quite a while and one of the most requested features.
August 2021 was when Destiny 2 finally got its much anticipated cross-play option. It’s important to note that unlike the other games on our list, Destiny 2 is only free as a base game. The expansions and DLCs are still paid, though you can still experience the base game and the multiplayer for free. Nevertheless, players across all platforms can play together as well as migrate their save files.
Destiny 2 is immensely popular game so getting into lobbies is generally not an issue, but with cross play there is an even bigger player base and more opportunities to squad up, regardless of what platform you’re using.
Upcoming cross-play implementations
Warframe is a free-to-playlooter-shooter, with fantastic graphics and very fast, satisfying gameplay. After eight years of the space-ninja looter-shooter adventure, Warframe is available on all gaming platforms and is finally getting cross-play, and cross-save!
If you’re like me and have managed to sink thousands of hours into this game over the last 5 years, then both cross play and cross save are going to be exciting, as it means you can seamlessly change the platform you played the game on and take all your years-long progress with you.
Warframe was originally released for the PC, and for the first couple of years it was a PC exclusive, meaning that’s where the vast majority of player base was and it still is. After the game was ported for consoles, a whole new fanbase emerged, butPC gamers were still the most numerous. Eight years later, Warframe can be played on virtually every console and very soon, it will be playable on a mobile too.
As the vast majority of the player base is on PC, squadding up was always easier on the PC as well. PlayStation had the next most numerous player base, followed by Xbox and then Switch. Once Warframe becomes ported for mobile as well, you will be able to squad up and play with anyone across all the platforms, removing the issue of finding teams on certain, less played maps. In addition to being able to get into squads a lot quicker, cross play would mean a sync in content across all platforms. Until now, console players were always two weeks behind PC players in the new content releases.
With new gen consoles already out, and the rumours of new gen GPUs coming next October, we predict that cross play is going to be implemented in more and more existing and upcoming games. A lot more exciting multiplayer titles are coming as well as free online games. The ones above have already started to set a certain standard, so we expect new and upcoming cross-play games to be better and better.