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So why is Gaijin Entertainment's War Thunder on the PS4 but it's not on the Xbox One? What happened? Well, the CEO of Gaijin throws aside the pettiness of NDAs and breaks down exactly why the online multiplayer flight-sim is cross-platform compatible between PC and PS4 and why it's skipping the Xbox One for now.
Gamespot managed to get in word with with CEO Anton Yudintsev, who explains that...
"Microsoft is not allowing cross-play completely; which means [War Thunder] cannot be on Xbox One," … “Sony is much more open to indie developers and free-to-play games in general. So Sony has been in the free-to-play market for a few years already, they started on the PlayStation 3,"
He also explains that new generation consoles lack an install base, and that MMOs suffer the most due to that small install base, a problem that Warframe subverted through cross-platform support. Yudintsev wanted cross-platform support for War Thunder on the consoles – which would mean that console gamers could play against PC gamers on platform-agnostic servers – and that's why it was imperative to get that support for the game implemented on consoles. Without it, it would mean that the War Thunder player base would be exceptionally small and it would eventually cost more to maintain on the platform than what they would make back from the miniscule community supporting it.
But Microsoft was having none of it. Sony actually entertained the idea and will patch the PS4 to support cross-platform support for War Thunder's full release. Yudintsev went on to say...
"Not only that, but Microsoft has a lot of unspoken limitations like if you want to make a free-to-play game you have to talk to an account manager and there are no set of rules; you need to communicate them; and the rule depends on the [individual account manager]. If he likes your game you get approval, if he doesn't you don't get approval."
Yudintsev explains that the arbitrary process of going through an account manager who determines if a game is good or not is toxic to the growth of independent game culture. It is true, given that Yudintsev uses the example of Minecraft, and how the game's growth had to first come from the PC platform before it found its way onto home consoles. It wasn't as if the game could get established first with the console crowd.
According to the Gaijin CEO, Microsoft isn't going about entertaining indie devs in the right way, and that they missed out on a huge opportunity to entertain games like Minecraft early on...
"It suddenly became very popular and after that it appears on Xbox 360 as well. But it could not happen the other way. There's no way, I am pretty sure, that Microsoft would ever approve that game to be on Xbox Live Arcade before it became popular on the PC."
Even more than that is that Yudintsev wants to put War Thunder on Microsoft's big black box. The problem, though, is Microsoft. But he feels things may change at some point...
"[Microsoft] has to change and they will change," ... "They key is that they understand the necessity of change, so they will. We'll see. I hope we will be [on Xbox One] some day as well. I have nothing against the platform itself especially because I'm not one of those guys who worries about which is better [Xbox One or PS4]. I don't care. It's just the hardware. At the end of the day it's only about the quality of the game and the gameplay experience."
Well, with these policies keeping a lot of smaller and mid-budget titles off the Xbox One at the moment, we're seeing how this kind of bulimic tactic of throwing up and away the advances of indie devs is causing the Xbox One to lose market share not only in hardware sales, but also in software adoption rates. Even more than that, both Sony and Nintendo are capitalizing on Microsoft's ancient policies on trying to maintain an iron grip on the software ecosystem to control and dominate.
If Microsoft keeps this up, not only will they continue to suffer the software drought in the face of the PS4 and Wii U, but they'll continue to slip in sales as they sit firmly in third place throughout the eighth gen.