Starfield is the latest Xbox Series X/S exclusive to support Xbox Play Anywhere, the feature that lets players buy the game once and then access it on both console and PC. No, it doesn’t count for Steam versions of the game, but in a world where the biggest console blockbusters are increasingly getting ported to PC, Starfield is a reminder of why the feature can be so useful.
Xbox Play Anywhere was a major talking point for Microsoft toward the end of the Xbox One era. Outclassed by the PlayStation 4 library, the tech company pivoted to other, broader initiatives aimed at alleviating some of the biggest headaches associated with console gaming like crossplay and backwards compatibility. More recently, Play Anywhere has kind of faded into the background, not because Microsoft abandoned it but because there just haven’t been that many big new games to showcase it.
Starfield, if it lives up to the hype, will probably be the best evidence yet of why it matters. While tons of people will play the open-world RPG on console, mod support, higher performance, and other perks will make it one of the biggest PC releases of the year. Take me for example. Built in 2016, my modest gaming PC is on its last legs. I’ll probably build a new one sometime next year. It’ll be nice, having already bought Starifeld on Xbox Series X/S, to not have to purchase it again to take advantage of all the bells and whistles on PC, with save data also transferring over.
The console and PC gaming ecosystems used to be more isolated from one another, but the lines have blurred more in recent years as both Microsoft and Sony have put their games on Steam. Regular ports of the biggest PlayStation exclusives have been great to see, but it also means double-dipping for fans who already played on console. Thanks to Microsoft’s self-operated storefront, Xbox players are in a different boat.
Play Anywhere was easy to overlook, but if Starfield and Forza Motorsport later this year really are the first in a steady stream of new Xbox exclusives, it could prove to be just as useful as Smart Delivery, another seemingly perfunctory perk that ended up being a big deal.