Since the game launched in 2015, Overwatch the player begged for cross-platform support. It is easy to understand why. Overwatch Live among popular multiplayer-only shooters like Fortnite, Call of Duty: Warzone, and Paladins: Champions of the Realm, all support cross play. Overwatch still does not support cross play and is unlikely to happen. However, the next generation of dashboard and Overwatch 2 offers some hope for the future.
Is Overwatch cross-platform?
First of all, let’s get rid of the bad news: No, Overwatch not cross platform. The Blizzard’s official page on the subject of saying that all players live in a “separate ecosystem”, which is Xbox Live, PSN, Nintendo Switch Online and Battle.net. Therefore, cross-process is also not supported. If you have a game on Battle.net and want to play it on Switch, you’ll have to start all over again.
Does Overwatch support cross-platform play?
The more interesting question is not if Overwatch supports cross-platform play, but rather when it will support cross-platform play. In a recent interview, Overwatch Game director Jeff Kaplan says the team is very interested in cross-play, especially in regards to Overwatch 2. Kaplan also said that Overwatch Players will be able to play with Overwatch 2 players in the core competition modes.
This cross-platform idea is interesting but the team that is still working on it has been reiterated in countless other interviews. It seems like a boxed answer, and to a certain extent, it is. However, there’s a big reason why Overwatch has not yet implemented cross-platform support.
We have a perfect reference of how cross-platform support will work in the form of 2019 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Warzone. Underneath the one Modern warfare umbrellas, both games support cross play and cross progression through ID Activision. The neat thing about it is that everything is tied to your Activision account, so once you switch platforms, you can continue your progress by logging into your account.
You can see the problem already. As mentioned, Overwatch process is not tied to an external account. It’s tied to any online service the platform you’re playing on supports. Move everything to an external account, such as how Modern warfare handling everything, which probably means you’ll lose your progress in the game. For a 5 year old and highly competitive game, starting over from level one is not good.
Not sure we’ll see cross-platform support for Overwatch. However, we’ll probably see it with Overwatch 2. Given that players from the original game and the sequel will be able to play together in several game modes suggests Blizzard is implementing a number of external progress tracking systems.
Keyboard and mouse problems
Aside from the technical issues, there’s a big hurdle towards Overwatch Multi-platform support: Keyboard and mouse. On the dashboard, Overwatch Controller support and on PC, it supports keyboard and mouse. Although keyboard and mouse input is supported, you can’t use this setup on a PS4 or Xbox One. There are ways to work around this that involve spending a few hundred dollars on an adapter, but we don’t recommend going that route.
In a post on the forum“The Overwatch team is opposed to using the mouse and keyboard on the consoles,” said Kaplan. This statement is not an explicit prohibition threat, but it is. Of course, understanding the group’s rationale is essential to alleviating the frustration of the lack of support. Suppose one person is using a keyboard and mouse and the others are using a controller. The person with the keyboard has an unfair advantage. Sure, you can point to other games that support cross play no matter what your input device is (Modern warfare among them). For Overwatch, through The development team decided that it was too big a plus for this particular game.
The Overwatch League is the biggest explanation for this stance. An Overwatch player can have a stronger skill set with a controller than with a keyboard and mouse or vice versa. Unless all factors are constant, a match result cannot accurately measure skill. Since professional play focuses on measuring skill, consistency is of utmost importance. Overwatch is known for a long-standing fascination with the gameplay.
Unfortunately but real, we can’t expect to see an immediate solution to this problem with Overwatch 2 or the latest generation of consoles. Xbox Series X and most likely the PS5 supports keyboard and mouse input, but that doesn’t mean developers will automatically support it in their games. In fact, the vast majority of gamers will be limited to using only the controller they get with their console. With that, the possibility of this input device bias disappearing in the future is unlikely.
We know some gamers who find it annoying to play Overwatch on a particular platform type. However, the developers of the game did not create this approach unreasonably – even if other games were more flexible. No matter how different we want it to be, it is unlikely to happen at any time in the near future. For now, people will have to be satisfied with using a controller if you use a console, and with a keyboard and mouse if you use a PC.
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