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The Agency screenshot
The Agency screenshot

Gamers don't like cross-platform play, despite how much they say they want it on Internet forums, the senior game designer on PS3 and PC MMO The Agency has said.

Cross-platform play, which allows users on separate platforms to play together, has been rarely supported by game developers and publishers. Notable exceptions include PC and Xbox 360 game Shadowrun and Square Enix RPG Final Fantasy XI.

Speaking to VideoGamer.com, The Agency senior game designer Kevin O'Hara said that while the development team can technically do cross-platform play, there is a perception among gamers that it is "inherently unfair".

He said: "We've been doing a lot of research on it though and we're finding that players actually don't like it. They say that they want it because it sounds cool to play with your PS3 buddies with your PC. But in practice no matter how balanced you make it there's a perception that inherently it's unfair."

O'Hara said that they will trial cross-platform play in The Agency beta, but wasn't hopeful that the feature would be supported when the game is released next year.

He said: "In beta we'll try it a little bit and see how we like it but if nothing else the majority of servers will be either PS3 or PC, maybe with some crossover servers."

You can check out our The Agency preview from Leipzig Games Convention right here.

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CheekyLee's Avatar

CheekyLee

I have long wondered why cross-platform play is not universal wherever possible. I am no expert, but surely it is just a matter of parsing inputs to the other OS? For example, currently when I press the right trigger on my 360 controller in Rainbow Six Vegas it tells my character to fire his currently equipped weapon. What precisely changes on the PS3? I am even pressing the button in the same location on the controller. And, again, why are both of these so different from pressing my mouse button? Surely the server can read what button I press, and then parse this information to all the clients. I don't see why all clients need to be the exact same console, as it is literally just a string of 1's and 0's that is changing hands.

I know that emulation is frowned upon, but there is a program that can be built into many emulators called Kaillera. What it does is to take the inputs from me as player 1, and parses them onto the remote machine I am connected to as player 2, thus allowing me to play SNES Super Mario Kart against a friend in America. As far as I am aware it is independently programmed, too. If this can be achieved, then surely something similar can be built into a multi-platform game at development level?

As for the old chestnut of PC advantage, well .... Yes, there generally will be an advantage to one format. But, this advantage will not always be to the PC. There are some players out there who are genuinely skilled with a controller. For all the aiming advantage a mouse has, it is still more intuitive to move with a stick. It is for this very reason that most console FPS games have 'legacy' in the controller options, as they are not attempting to emulate mouse and keyboard controls but instead focussing on the strengths of a twin-stick approach.
Posted 21:01 on 14 January 2009
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MMOer

It's sony... Nothing more need be said about their inheritent failures to meet the expectations of the gaming community. It doesn't surprise me one bit to hear this. If you make a game, a truly GREAT game, there should be (as FantasyMeister wrote) no real way to tell the difference between the users logged in on any given system.
Posted 19:18 on 14 January 2009
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Guest

Did you notice how the senior game designer first says "we're finding that players actually don't like [cross-platform play]" and then says "we'll try it a little bit and see how we like [cross-platform play]"? I think there's a bias against cross-platform play on the side of the designer and not on the side of the community. While it's certainly easier to take advantage of a game in a Windows environment than on a console, that doesn't preclude hacking on the console either. Both cases have to be addressed. In this particular case, it seems that the game designer just doesn't want to deal with it. For instance, what he really might be saying is that, if there's not rampant cheating in the beta, we'll leave cross-platform play in. Otherwise, we'll let all of you cheat on your own server. When, in actuality, they should just design the server code with boundaries on the player and ban them after a certain point. Examples of simple boundaries are: you can only move so far over 'X' amount of time, you can't suddenly go from 'X' amount of currency to 'Y' amount of currency, there are only {X-Z} characters allowed to be displayed on another user's screen, etc.
Posted 13:02 on 23 September 2008
FantasyMeister's Avatar

FantasyMeister

I wouldn't say that there's a 'perception that cross-platform play is inherently unfair'. I'd say that in practice though the PC version of cross-platform games is usually the easier version to exploit glitches on, which then leads to unbalanced play as has happened with both Shadowrun and FFXI in the past.

FFXI is probably the best example around of where cross-platform play actually works brilliantly, you've no idea whether the people you're playing with are on PS2, PS3, 360 or PC unless you either ask them or watch them speedhacking and glitching through walls, in which case they're probably on PC.

The Agency is a shooter though, so there'll always be the Mouse vs Control Pad argument, yet Shadowrun is practically totally PvP and there don't seem to be any complaints in that department, and The Agency has minimal PvP, it's mostly PvE from my understanding.

Hopefully they'll discover in beta that it works just great and keep it in, my only concern being that they fully support the game after it gets released so they can nail any exploits that crop up (e.g. duping, infinite money glitches, invincibility hacks etc.) on one system fast before it causes unbalance across the whole game.
Posted 19:44 on 19 September 2008

Game Stats

Technical Specs
Release Date: 01/06/2007
Developer: FASA Studio
Publisher: Microsoft
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 2,226 393
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