‘Destiny’ Cross-Platform Play Absence Explained By Engineer Roger Wolfson

When it launches in September, Destiny cross-platform play will be absent from the game. This is not a new revelation, but the reasoning behind the decision to sequester the gamers to their respectful consoles has been only speculation up to this point. One of the engineers on Destiny has gone on record to explain why PS3 owners of Bungie’s new 10 year sci-fi franchise will not be able to play against Xbox One owners.

When Destiny launches in September, it will be released on the 4 major consoles: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Having a game as ambitious as Destiny achieve parity across the 4 platforms is a monumental undertaking. Speaking to Digital Trends, Destiny engineer Roger Wolfson spoke at length as to why there will be no cross-platform support across the consoles.

“There is a huge amount of complexity behind the scenes,” Wolfson tells Digital Trends. “Our platform engineering team has done an awesome job of hiding all of that complexity from the end-user.”

Cross-generational games are a new wrinkle in the move to the next-gen consoles for gamers and the industry. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 were the first major consoles that had a standardized hardware set allowing for common shader languages among other things. The result is that games are easier to port across the generational gap in consoles. However, the difference in raw processing power would be too much of a hurdle for console developers to have a game like Destiny feature cross-play. This can manifest itself in multiple ways. One such example was given by Wolfson as a hypothetical player.

“I’ll speak for the hypothetical player. I have a disadvantage sniping across the map because [my opponent with a next-gen console] is only two pixels on my screen and I’m four pixels on his. You see that in the world of PC gaming, where people are always racing to the best video card to give themselves the advantage.”

There are other issues that have to taken into consideration when dealing with older hardware interacting with the latest consoles. One example is lag between two consoles such as the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. The PS3 is obviously less powerful than the PS4, meaning that the PS4 has to slow down, or lag, in order to wait for the PS3 to accept the command, render it and send the result back to the PS4. It isn’t the fault of the PS4, but the experience is degraded regardless.

Another option could the inclusion of hacking into the economy of the game. Destiny is a hybrid game, blending elements of FPS, MMO, RPG, and Loot games like Borderlands and Diablo, defying a normal genre classification. With a system depending on an in game economy, if the game can be hacked on the older Xbox 360 or PlayStation 3, the separation of platforms would limit the break in the game’s economy to that one platform, instead of all 4 at once.

Bungie Destiny Cross Platform Play

Even with the separation of the console online experience, the versions of Destiny that were built for each of the platforms are nearly identical save for the fidelity that naturally comes with the increased horsepower of the next-gen consoles. Our own playthroughs of the PS3 and PS4 Beta builds of the game are nearly identical in terms of performance, and it can be easy to forget which platform you are playing on if you let the experience take hold and you can ignore the PlayStation 3’s cumbersome controller.

The only downside that we can see is the 10 year plan Bungie has for Destiny. If you are a gamer who has yet to make the leap into the next generation of consoles, then there will likely be a point in which you will need to make a decision in order to stay with the series through its planned lifetime. According to Bungie and publisher Activision, Destiny has a 10 year road map ahead of it. While continued support for the franchise will be strong in the first years for the outgoing generation of consoles, the character you create when the game launches will ostensibly be with you for the next 10 years. It is not likely that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 version of the game will get the later releases and support after a certain amount of time, necessitating a move to the next-gen consoles.

Destiny is currently in the middle of Beta testing on the PlayStation platforms. The Xbox One beta will be launched later where it will be dealing with the still nagging issues of native 1080p resolution according to Joystiq. Destiny is slated to have a release date of September 9 on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One.

[Image Source | Bungie.net]