Overwatch is not quite as hype as it used to be, due to age if nothing else. But it’s still going strong, and often getting new content. Oddly enough, said content is a little different this time around, as rather than being the addition of characters or skins like you would expect, it’s actually about cross-play, officially on its way.
Blizzard has confirmed that there will be a cross-play beta rolling out before the real deal, and it will be supported across all versions of Overwatch: that includes PC, Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox. In order to participate in the beta, players will have to create a Battle.net account and link it to their console accounts. Naturally, PC players won’t have to do this since they’ve been playing via Battle.net launcher since 2016. Unfortunately for console players, they’ll have to set up an account even if they don’t want to use cross-play at all. For more information on how to do that, Blizzard has a page on its website that will walk you through it.
It’s not all bad though. In fact, there’s even some incentive to doing this. For players on Switch, Playstation, and Xbox, if they link their accounts to a Battle.net account by the end of the year, they’ll receive a golden loot box. In fact, you’ll get a golden loot box for every platform you link, so you could get several if you have multiple platforms.
It’s also worth noting that cross play will not be available across every single mode, though it will for the majority. It won’t actually be available for competitive mode, which is going to be divided between PC and console players in the interest of fairness and balance.
All of that said, it’s not actually clear when the cross-play beta is going to really begin, or when the full feature is going to make it into the game. The press release from Blizzard was especially vague, saying only that the beta would launch soon. There’s no indication of whether that means a few weeks or a few months. Still, this feature has been long desired by Overwatch fans, so knowing that it is coming at all is good.
Now, while cross-play is supposedly on the way, it should be noted that this does not mean players are getting cross-progression, at least not yet. Blizzard technical director John Lafleur said that cross-play had much higher priority. Specifically, his words were “However, given the additional complexities of cross-progression,” Lafleur said, “it would probably make most sense to tackle cross-play, first and then explore progression as a potential add-on, if we go this route.”
Blizzard’s FAQ confirms that you will not share progress between platforms if you do play on multiple. This is a bit of a bummer for the rare few who might play on Xbox or Playstation that want to play on Switch when on the road, but for the most part, it doesn’t affect players too badly.