Gears of War launches cross-platform casual multiplayer

Cross-platform multiplayer has officially arrived in Gears of War 4 [official site], letting Xboners and Tenners square off against each other while also letting territorial babies reignite tedious arguments about who’s REALLY the baby. Right now, only the Versus ‘Social Quickplay’ playlist puts Xbone and Windows 10 players together, and it sounds like it’ll stay that way. Expanding the playerpool and letting folks play with their consolechums (or PCpals!) is good stuff.

This week’s official launch follows a weekend trial last year, which developers The Coalition say went peachy, with better games and no huge performance disparity.

“Windows 10 and Xbox players had closely-matched results when comparing Average KD, Score and Kills per match based on skill ratings,” they say. They add, “The quality of matches improved for both Xbox and Windows 10 users – social lobbies had a higher average user count, and players completed 95% of all social matches entered vs 90% prior to Cross-play Weekend.”

The Core and Competitive modes will remain split, mind. Microsoft say that “Despite the closely matched performance between users on both platforms seen in our cross-play Test Weekend, we always want to ensure our Ranked experiences are as closely matched and competitive as possible.”

That’s a bit curious. If the matchmaking works well and there are enough players, shouldn’t player matchmaking ratings bypass any controller differences? Early experiments with cross-platform multiplayer saw e.g. Dreamcast players getting stomped by PCnauts in Quake 3, but one would hope modern matchmaking would be able to pit players with similar performance against each other.


  1. Troubletcat says:

    Modern matchmaking would pit players with similar performance against each other, but they probably want to avoid a situation where players that want to be at the highest tier are forced to switch to PC to be competitive. Which is absolutely what would happen.

    Gears is a very casual shooter so it’s not surprising that in general PC players and Xbox players weren’t as far apart as in a game like Quake 3, but there’s still no way playing with a controller would be competitive versus mousekeys once you get to a top tier of play.

  2. Rindan says:

    I’m pretty sure they are just being charitable when they say that they “closely match”. I have a feeling “closely match” means that some portion of the console players can play with the worst players on PC. If you are using a match making service without rankings, this is no big deal. The worse you are, the more console players you will be playing with, but what does it matter to you that someone is matched to you because of skill or controller? They are simply at your level, for whatever reason. So, matchmaking smooths everything over and lets the populations overlap where they may.

    If you do ranked though, it will quickly emerge that console players have no hope. The low tiers might be mixed, but the mid and top tears will be mostly or all PC. If the top tier console players can’t get any higher than mid tear PC players, then it will demoralize console players. You simply have to keep them separate. The higher skill level you go, the more and more PC will dominate.

    • nitric22 says:

      Frankly, I do have to agree. The difference in input just doesn’t yield the equal playing field. But perhaps I’d feel differently if I had a few thousand hours invested into console shooters, as it stands I’m experientially biased to a mouse/keyboard.

    • TormDK says:

      Gears 4 doesn’t have or need pinpoint accuracy, so it is a perfect title to do crossplay on, which works fine.

  3. Zandolar says:

    As you see with things like LoL though, people become overly obsessed with climbing ranks and using it as some sort of bragging right rather than just using the matchmaking as it should be to provide a balanced competitve game to keep it as enjoyable as possible.
    It might not sit well with console players that their rank effectively has a ceiling because the higher they go the more they are playing against people with a faster, more precise control method.
    For casual games it’s fine though as those people don’t care about ranking and just want a balanced game.

    • Daemoroth says:

      Maybe throw them all into the same pool for matchmaking to get matches, but build rankings separately for each platform? So the top console player would be ranked at the top, regardless of where they are in the (Now hidden) matchmaking rating?

  4. Henke says: