Did Microsoft Kill Xbox-Windows Cross-Platform Play?

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Microsoft at one point had plans to bridge Xbox and Windows gaming, but eventually killed them, because in cross-platform matches, console gamers couldn't hack it.

So says Rahul Sood, founder of Voodoo PC and CTO of HP's gaming biz, fingering a rumor that Microsoft was hoping to bring PC and console gamers together under its LIVE multiplayer brand in games like Unreal and Gears of War.

"This was all part of their Live strategy, and had Microsoft just stuck to their guns and made it work PC Gaming might be in a much better position than it is today," wrote Sood on his blog.

Sood says the project was "designed to allow console gamers and PC gamers to interact and battle over a connected environment," and that "during the development they brought together the best console gamers to play mediocre PC gamers at the same game," keyboard and mouse against console gamepad.

The results?

"The console players got destroyed every time," says Sood. "So much so that it would be embarrassing to the XBOX team in general had Microsoft launched this initiative.

Microsoft currently runs two versions of LIVE, one for Windows, another for the Xbox 360. If you remember games like Shadowrun, Universe at War, and Lost Planet (if you don't, don't feel bad) you may also recall those games offering cross-platform play. The point about disparate control schemes was raised, and pretty much settled in favor of neither.

Whatever Microsoft did or didn't do, it almost goes without saying: A gamepad offers one way to play a game, a keyboard and mouse another. Each has genre strengths and weaknesses. Pitting one against the other is a little like running formula one and rally cars on both paved and off-road tracks in hopes of determining one's "superiority."

And just to disabuse those of you who think the default Windows control scheme is always more accurate than a gamepad, riddle me this:

Ever tried to play Super Mario Bros. with a keyboard-mouse?

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