- Oct 23, 2017
So I swung by the Microsoft booth at GDC today. There, nestled among Xbox Ones and various tablets, I spotted something that I wasn't expecting to see: Nintendo Switch hardware.
When I asked the representatives what this was all about, I was surprised to learn that it's part of a suite of features called PlayFab Party that Microsoft announced last week with zero fanfare. They explained to me that this was a service they were hoping to sell to developers to be incorporated into the games themselves. This was initially developed as a voice-to-text accessibility feature for Xbox, but they later expanded the scope to make cross-platform a big part of it. The package will include leaderboards, matchmaking, party, and server/lobby support.
The voice-to-text feature was available to test and even on the noisy show floor it worked pretty well.
I was told that the way accounts are handled is that you will have a PlayFab ID which you will be prompted to tie to an account(s) from other platforms. At launch only Xbox Live accounts can be linked, but they specifically mentioned that Steam support was in the works along with possibly others. It is not part of Xbox Live and Xbox Live is not intended to be a requirement.
PlayFab Party will offer SDKs for Xbox, Windows, Android, iOS, and Nintendo Switch. I asked about the Switch compatibility and was told that when Microsoft pitched it to them, Nintendo was extremely enthusiastic and very supportive. Microsoft was "super happy" with the negotiations.
When I asked about possible PlayStation compatibility, I was told that Microsoft wants it on PlayStation but that those talks are "further behind." They cited inter-company politics as the reason for the holdup.
Just because I promised I'd mention him, shout out to cvxfreak