Xbox gamers won't have to put up with toxic cross-platform PC and PlayStation players if Phil Spencer gets his way

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Xbox boss Phil Spencer has suggested that there should be a global ban-list across multiple gaming platforms. The proposed program would see individuals banned no matter where they play. 

This proposal comes as an idea to clean up the gaming space in a more comprehensive manner, creating a centralized ban system that operates across multiple platforms. Ideally, he posits it would see individuals punished even across platforms. 

In an interview with the New York Times (opens in new tab), Spencer floated the idea about the multi-network ban system, saying: “Something I would love us to be able to do--this is a hard one as an industry--is when somebody gets banned in one of our networks, is there a way for us to ban them across other networks?”

As Spencer acknowledges, this would be difficult to implement as it would require several companies to work together. On top of that, they would likely need a homogenized Terms of Service, as a ban on one platform may only apply to that platform and not others agreeing to that kind of arrangement. 

However, he did offer a more conceivable alternative. Spencer posited a system that would allow users to bring over banned lists of players between platforms. “And I'd love to be able to bring them to other networks where I play. So this is the group of people that I choose not to play with. Because I don't want to have to recreate that in every platform that I play video games on,” he explained.

This would still require some harmonization between platforms. The issue seems like it would be figuring out which users share profiles across platforms that stay within the remits of reasonable privacy. That being said, the idea of a universal ban list seems like it could have legs. 


Analysis: Cross-Platform bans are a good idea but hard to implement

Cross-platform has come a long way in the last half-decade. Several years ago, a partnership like this would have seemed inconceivable, but in the modern world, fierce competitors like PlayStation and Xbox have allowed cross-play across more and more games. This might have seemed impossible not long ago, but it seems potentially viable in the current landscape. 

One of the biggest issues with this concept could pertain to user privacy though. How two separate platforms could identify the same user with no connection seems like it could be tricky without an overreach. Especially with the wider and wider use of VPNs, it’s clear this issue is potentially complex.

While this seems like complicated implementation for a platform holder, it has started coming to live-service games that do feature cross-platform play. Games like Call of Duty and Destiny 2, which feature cross-play and cross-progression, have started to house users on the developer’s side. This means, if your accounts are linked for play on various platforms, if you did something to get yourself banned on one, you’d lose access to a game no matter where you were playing. 

This could be excellent though, holding users more accountable for their actions online. In an online space that can be unkind, the sentiment of bans for awful behavior could encourage better experiences for all. 

Patrick Dane
Gaming Guides Editor

Patrick Dane is TechRadar Gaming's Guides Editor. With nearly a decade in the games press, he's been a consistent voice in the industry. He's written for a plethora of major publications and travelled the world doing it. He also has a deep passion for games as a service and their potential to tell evolving stories. To wit, he has over 2000 hours in Destiny 2, over 1000 in Overwatch and is now deeply into Valorant.