Microsoft acknowledged that shift in the session listing when it said that "Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger" (emphasis theirs) by "expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices".
Microsoft is apparently poised to bring Xbox Live to Nintendo Switch and mobile platforms, including Android and iOS.
The move is another example of Microsoft working to sell tools to developers, rather than trying to win by making hit games and consoles themselves.
This would theoretically allow PC, Xbox One, Switch, and mobile games to all co-exist and share the same service for multiplayer, voice comms, and achievements, allowing owners of any of these platforms to play together. Basically, Microsoft wants to provide developers with the tools to implement Xbox Live across nearly all major platforms, expanding the network's reach to far more screens. Most famous of these is Minecraft, which requires players to use an Xbox Live login on Android, iOS, and Switch.
For developers, this is a way to offer players across different platforms one central way to view their "gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more". This kind of cross-functionality of the service could make Xbox Live a far more appealing alternative to current social gaming options.
In a blurb for their upcoming appearance, Microsoft states that Xbox Live has grown to be one of the leading gaming social communities. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will get any adoption, however, given the general mistrust developers have developed over the last 10 years in Microsoft provided solutions.
The GDC runs from March runs 18 through March 22 and the cross-platform advancement may not be the only new technology on show from Microsoft.
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