Microsoft made a huge announcement during the E3 press conference at this past year's E3 in Los Angeles, California. The announcement centered around Minecraft becoming unified across all major platforms and devices, and there's a special requirement in order to make use of the feature on the Switch: You'll need an Xbox Live account.
Gamespot is reporting that there's a bit of a special requirement for Nintendo Switch owners to use the cross-platform features in Minecraft, and it includes having to log into Xbox Live.
This seems like a rather weird thing to do, but it actually makes a ton of sense as far as Microsoft is concerned, given that it will do one of two things: a bunch of Xbox Live gamers who play on other consoles will be forced to keep their Xbox Live profile active and therefore contribute to the sustained subscriber numbers on Xbox Live, or it will force players on other consoles to sign up for Xbox Live and increase Microsoft's total pool of players.
It's a brilliant strategy, really, because it means that Microsoft wins either way. Additionally, this is also likely set in place to compensate for the lack of the premium version of the Nintendo Network going live for the Nintendo Switch, which won't be available until 2018.
Whether or not you can settle for playing cross-platform from the Nintendo Switch with an Xbox Live silver account remains to be seen, but so far the game will not support cross-platform achievements. According to Gamespot, Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer spoke to the fellas at Giant Bomb and explained that so far there will not be any achievements that can be earned from playing the Nintendo Switch version of Minecraft.
Spencer did say that there is a good relationship between Microsoft and Nintendo, and that it's possible something could be worked out where the Switch version does unlock achievements. At the moment, Nintendo doesn't have achievements or trophies in online-enabled Switch games because that's, presumably, going to be part of the premium services that will arrive in 2018. In the meantime, the Nintendo Network is free to use on the Switch, but it lacks voice chat, parties, and other online quality of life features.
The cross-platform play, however, will enable PC, Switch, mobile and Xbox gamers to all play Minecraft together. The only company left out of the loop is Sony, who has opted not to make the PlayStation 4 cross-platform compatible with Nintendo platforms or Xbox platforms.
A Sony executive claimed that the reason for avoiding that level of inter-connectivity with its marketplace rivals was due to concerns over child safety. Xbox head honcho Phil Spencer shot back that Microsoft takes great care in providing network security and parental safety options for users. In fact, Spencer reiterated that part of the reason why Xbox Live is required as a login on the Nintendo Swtich is so that you gain access to the more robust parental control settings and safety features offered through the Xbox Live service.
So, for those of you who plan on making use of the cross-platform feature in Minecraft for the Switch, be ready to whip out your Xbox Live login information or be prepared to create an account.