"[Cross-network play] broadens the matchmaking pool and community for supported titles," a Microsoft spokesman told CNBC. "This is great for developers and gamers alike. Additionally, cross-network play can encourage new gameplay scenarios across devices and creative new ways to play together, as examples. We believe fostering creativity in the gaming industry is always a good thing."
The announcement teases a boon for gamers who have long wanted to battle friends and foes who use different gaming consoles.
But don't start trash talking your cross-platform friends just yet. The likelihood of actual Xbox vs. Playstation play remains slim, some analysts say.
"I have strong doubts that other network providers will be interested in participating," Scott Steinberg, head of video game consulting firm Tech Savvy, told CNBC. "Although it may be technically possible, the question of whether it is politically feasible or makes economic sense is really the one to be asked."
Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo no longer simply rely on selling consoles and games to make a profit. These days, major gaming companies make money from in-game microtransactions, such as selling additional downloadable content or perks, or subscription services, such as apps to stream music and TV.
"It's more and more important for those manufacturers to build brand loyalty by locking users into their ecosystem of games, services and online multiplayer components," Steinberg said. "Because once you are locked into that suite of services you are much more reticent, or much less willing, to change or move over to another gaming system."
Gaming companies benefit from players who actively build their online profiles and become involved in the digital community. Gamers who have robust friend lists for multiplayer games or have racked up a large number of in-game trophies and achievements, are much less likely to abandon their console in favor of another brand.