Microsoft has introduced cross-play into Gears of War 4 for both Windows 10 and Xbox One players. What does this mean? It means if you game on Xbox One or Windows 10 you'll be able to play casual games with other players on the other platform.
The announcement came via a post over on the Xbox News Wire, where community manager from The Coalition, Liam Ashley, announced that gamers can now use the Social Quickplay feature in Gears of War 4 for cross-platform compatibility. So Windows 10 gamers can now compete against Xbox One gamers in the Social Quickplay mode.
This feature was implemented after lots and lots of cross-play testing. They conducted the tests last year, where they discovered that out of the 115,000 test participants in the Gears of War 4 cross-platform weekend there was a ratio split of 91/9 between Xbox One and Windows 10 users. They didn't say what the disparity was between the win/loss ratio of console gamers versus PC gamers, but cross-platform play always traditionally favors keyboard and mouse users due to the precision aiming afforded by the keyboard and mouse.
I do wonder if the home consoles had something similar to the Steam Controller would that raise their efficiency in aiming? Essentially the touchpad works a lot like a mouse as far as precision is concerned, and I would be curious to see how well console gamers would fare in a game like Gears of War 4 using a Steam Controller versus traditional mouse and keyboard users on Windows 10.
For now we'll never know the answer to that question. What's more is that Microsoft is only going to allow casual games to be played through the Quickplay feature. The Ranked modes will not be available for cross-platform compatibility between Windows 10 and Xbox One users.
It's pretty obvious why Ranked games aren't allowed, and it fits in with what was mentioned about precision controls. Microsoft tried this before with the game Shadowrun, and it was still a slaughter as PC gamers owned Xbox 360 gamers. Microsoft will be looking into adding a separate Ranked mode for Windows 10 users so that they don't feel left out.
I'm a little surprised that Microsoft doesn't have as much faith in the Xbox One Elite Controller being an adequate challenge for PC gamers when it comes to competitive gaming. The $130 controller was designed for eSports competitions and to give gamers a quality controller with high-precision and lots of customization so that it's responsive, reactive, and quick on the draw.
For now the cross-platform play will be limited to Social Quickplay, and according to Microsoft they actually saw an increase in engagement in Gears of War 4 when cross-platform play was enabled. They'll likely attempt to continue to use this as a way to filter Xbox gamers to PC or PC gamers to Xbox.
You'll find the Social Quickplay option now added to the Cross-play Playlist, so you'll be able hop into cross-platform games in Gears of War 4 at the press of a button. The game is available right now on Windows 10 and Xbox One.