Some arguments never die; Mac vs PC, iOS vs Android, and PC vs Console. With games, you will note that not all games release to all platforms. Some studios remain loyal to a particular console e.g. the PlayStation, while others prefer to release for more than one or all of them. Some games are available on all or almost all platforms. Case in point; Minecraft. It’s easily one of the most widely distributed games; you can play it on a desktop, phone, and on consoles.
When you have a game that’s available on so many platforms, and it’s a game that can be played online, on a hosted server, that multiple friends can be invited to, it makes you wonder if the game also supports cross-play.
Cross-play in gaming
Cross-play means that the platform you play a game on is mostly irrelevant when you want to play with other players. If a game supports cross-play, it will allow users that play on a PC to play with other users who may be on an Xbox or a PlayStation.
Cross-play requires proper support. Just because a game is available on multiple platforms doesn’t necessarily mean that players from all platforms will be able to play with each other. They may still be limited to playing with just users who are on the same platform as them. That’s why games that are popular across multiple platforms are often urged to add cross-play support. The idea has been around for ages but only recently has it become popular enough for studios to pay attention.
Minecraft is a game that started out on the PC but has expanded to every gaming platform there is. It is available on;
- Windows 10 (PC)
- Xbox (Not supported on the Xbox One Edition)
- Nintendo Switch
For each of the above platforms, Minecraft supports cross-play but for Windows 10, cross-play is only available for the UWP/Bedrock version. The Java version does not support it and the window for Java users to get the UWP version for free has closed so if that’s the version you own, you will have to buy the UWP one. Minecraft added support for cross-play with the Better Together Update.
Minecraft Better Together Update
The Minecraft Better Together Update is a patch that was added to the game. To get it, you need to be running the latest version of Minecraft. This update was announced in 2017 so if you’re running the latest version of the game on your console/computer/phone, you already have it.
If you’re on the PlayStation, support for Cross-play was added in December 2019. We’re well into 2020 now so you should already have it if the game is updated on your console.
How to Cross-play Minecraft: PS4/Xbox/PC/Switch
In order to cross-play Minecraft you need to;
- Create a free Xbox account. You don’t need Xbox Live unless you play on an Xbox.
- You now need to link the Xbox account to the Minecraft account that you will be playing with. This needs to be done on the device that you’re playing on.
- For the PS4: Open Minecraft on your console, and select the ‘Sign in for free’ option that you see. Sign in with the Xbox account that you created. Once signed in, Minecraft will redirect you to this page and it will display a code on the console. Enter the code on the page and click Let’s Play.
- For the Nintendo Switch: Open Minecraft and select the ‘Sign in for free’ option. Sign in with the Xbox account that you created. You will see a code on your console. Enter it on this page. Sign in to your Xbox account again if prompted to, and the two accounts will be linked.
- For the Xbox: Your account is already set up and you do not have to do anything.
- For Windows 10: Open Minecraft and click the Sign In option at the bottom left. Sign in with your Xbox account, and you’re good to go.
- Make sure all players that you want to play with have fulfilled the above two requirements as well. Add these players as friends on Xbox. To add friends to Xbox;
- Visit the official Xbox website and sign in with your Xbox account. Go to My Xbox>Friends. Use the search bar to look for your friends by their account and add them.
- Ensure version homogeneity: The map that you want to play on must have been created for the latest version that supports cross-play. Everyone that is going to play on the map must also be running the latest version of Minecraft i.e., it must be a version that supports cross-play though ideally, everyone should be running the latest version of the game no matter what.
- You’re now ready for cross-play. Open Minecraft on your device. Go to the Friends tab, and you will see your friends listed there. Invite them to a map, or they can invite you to play on a map.
Cross-play on Minecraft is fairly simple but it is tied down somewhat to the Xbox service. This is to be expected since there has to be a central service to connect different platforms together. The Xbox account dependency isn’t going to go away but it’s small and once you set the account up, you won’t have to bother with it again unless you need to add a friend.