EA signals cross-platform intent through Need For Speed multiplayer

  • Video games
  • Wednesday, 10 Jun 2020

Need For Speed Heat made good use of a Fast & Furious-inspired street racing aesthetic. – AFP Relaxnews

How long until we see cross-platform FIFA, Madden NFL, The Sims and Star Wars Battlefront?

It's been out for seven months already, but Need For Speed Heat has pulled off a surprise maneuver.

Back in February, publisher Electronic Arts had announced that UK studio Criterion Games – an iconic dev house thanks to the Burnout series – would be steering future development of the franchise.

Criterion's now revealed that it's also installed cross-platform capability for Need For Speed Heat via a final content update, which went live on June 9.

"Players – regardless of their platform – can jump into [Need For Speed Heat location] Palm City together as one, united community," said Matt Webster, studio General Manager, of the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC game.

Cross-platform multiplayer, platform-agnostic multiplayer, cross-play: the feature has become a common expectation among players over the last few years and developers, publishers, and console companies have moved to accommodate them halfway through the PS4 and Xbox One lifecycles.

After years of iOS and Android compatibility in the mobile scene, Fortnite: Battle Royale tipped the scales on console and computer when, just two months into an astronomical 2017 launch, game engineers temporarily allowed PlayStation 4 and Xbox One populations to mix.

By then, Minecraft and Rocket League had already tested the cross-platform waters and, a year later, the power of Fortnite became impossible to deny for holdout PlayStation parent Sony, paving the way for full cross-platform play between the game's console, computer and mobile fanbases.

Long-awaited cross-platform decisions like that turned back the clock on decades of separation between Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo.

With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X being prepared for late 2020 launches (the Switch debuted in March 2017), manufacturers and publishers are now going into this new console era aware of cross-platform requirements.

So Electronic Arts' decision to activate cross-platform for Need For Speed Heat isn't simply a way to ensure a healthy pool of players for the game's multiplayer mode. It's also a demonstration of capability and a statement of intent.

The publisher of not only Need For Speed but also FIFA, Madden NFL, The Sims and Star Wars Battlefront has 2020 showcase event EA Play planned for June 18. – AFP Relaxnews

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