Cross-Play’s Rise Means The New Consoles Need To Embrace Discord

Cross-play is meant to be the best, so let's make it better.

Discord

It’s now official that the Xbox Series X | S and PlayStation 5 have become the current gen, while the Xbox One and PS4 are in the past. Sure, they’ll still be supported for the next couple of years, but the future is now and here to stay. Both consoles have also adopted a more forward thinking approach in their adoption of cross-platform play and even cross-saves.

With all the advancements that are being made in terms of framerate, resolution, online matchmaking, loading times and so on, it feels like online party chat has been stuck in the past. That clearly needs to change, and right now, there’s one surefire way of bringing about that change: the PS5 and Xbox Series X | S need to adopt Discord going forward.

Discord has been a huge boon when it comes to combining online communication and gaming, allowing players to voice or text chat with their friends while playing PC games or performing other activities. Along with Zoom, Discord has been elevated even further thanks to the pandemic, as more people seek ways to stay connected with their loved ones in an incredibly trying time. There are more users than ever on the platform, so it would make sense to try and leverage that across console gaming too.

Discord on consoles has been a sentiment that gamers have held for a while, but one that neither Sony or Microsoft have acted upon, and in fairness, it’s not hard to see why. Adopting Discord would essentially be an admission that their proprietary communication systems aren’t enough for some people.

PS5
PS5

Perhaps both Sony and Microsoft just don’t want to undercut their own communication services, but Discord could possibly be offered as some kind of premium bonus for Xbox Live/PlayStation Plus subscribers to remedy that. So long as money still goes in their pockets, it’s all good, right? Heck, Discord Nitro was used as a perk for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, so the partnerships are there.

Personally, the PS5 seems uniquely equipped to support a service like Discord. The new Parties system for the PS5 appears to be more like a Discord group anyway, with players able to jump in and out of voice chat with their friends. On top of that, another Discord feature is the ability to stream your screen with everyone else on the call, something that the PS5 offers as part of its party system. If it walks like Discord, talks like Discord and has the same features as Discord, why not just work Discord?

Theoretically, you can use Discord to communicate with your friends while console gaming now, but with either minimal or maximum fuss, depending on your personal setup. In my case, it’d be a bit of a fustercluck. I primarily play while wearing headphones that play game audio through a TV instead of a monitor.

If I wanted to use Discord, it’d have to be separate through my phone or my laptop, creating an audio nightmare. Either I play game audio through my headphones and shout at my friends because I have no idea how loud I am, or have game audio through my TV that I’d struggle to hear, but my friends could potentially hear through my microphone.

Look, I understand that this is about as first world problem as it gets. “Wah, my new shiny thing could be better!” I get it, but as cross-platform play and matchmaking becomes more prevalent, platform owners need to become more agnostic in their approach for the benefit of gamers as a whole. It’s a feature that could improve gaming for a lot of people, so why not go for it?

The games themselves have of course tried to address this issue through game chat options, meaning you can still communicate with your friends, but there’s a lack of privacy there that’s offered by party chats and Discord. Plus, if one of your friends happens to get disconnected, you won’t know as they’ll be booted from game chat. At least parties and Discord allow for communication between games or when something goes wrong.

For me at least, this is a problem that’s only reared its head now that I have the Xbox Series X. Back towards the start of the year, I published an article about the Xbox One’s second HDMI port, which allowed players to use other devices through the Xbox’s OneGuide app. For me, it meant being able to play games like Pokémon Sword and Shield or Fall Guys with my friends through the Xbox party app, allowing me to combine game and chat audio. I’d consider it to be a sort of discount Discord, but those days are over now.

Right now, cross-platform play is still in its early stages, so there’s plenty of room for growth, particularly in regards to communication. With an established platform, brand identity and millions of users, Discord could enable that growth. Sony and Microsoft just need to make the space to let it happen.

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