Behind in console sales, Microsoft sees the ability to play a game on different devices as a way to extend the Xbox’s reach.
LOS ANGELES — Microsoft says other video-game makers are coming to play on its program to connect Xbox gaming with players on personal computers.
At E3 this week, Microsoft announced Play Anywhere, a program that lets people who buy a single digital copy of a video game play on both Xbox and a Windows 10 personal computer.
The first games announced to support the feature are six titles Microsoft is publishing itself, including “Gears of War 4” and “Forza Horizon 3,” but the company says big game publishers are signing on to come along with its effort to link gaming on its devices.
“The program has been incredibly popularly received by our (third-party publisher) partners,” Jeff Henshaw, a group program manager, said in an interview, without specifying which companies might take advantage of the new feature.
When would those publishers publicly sign on? “Soon,” he said. “Think weeks, not months.”
Microsoft was mum on another big offer to tie gaming platforms together.
With the arrival of the popular multiplayer car-soccer game “Rocket League” on Xbox One in March, Microsoft extended the olive branch to Sony’s PlayStation 4, announcing an “open invitation” to Xbox online play with other gaming networks.
Mike Nichols, Xbox’s chief marketing officer, didn’t say whether the company had reached out to Sony on its own to gauge the console rival’s interest.
“You’d have to ask them,” he said in an interview. “As platform owners, our primary job is to kind of enable developers” to turn on features like cross-network play.
Sony was noncommittal in its own response after Microsoft’s offer, saying it would be open to having a conversation about cross-platform play.
Game-industry analysts say Sony, which is outselling Microsoft’s console roughly two-to-one, likely has little interest in any cross-play, particularly if it eliminates the social tug to buy a PlayStation to interact with friends online.
Microsoft’s broader goal with its latest announcements is to untether the Xbox brand from the living-room console and turn Xbox Live into the connective tissue that links gaming across devices.
The company might be losing the sales battle for current-generation consoles, but by linking its gaming software to the PC and mobile devices, Microsoft could extend the reach of Xbox.
The company here touted an Xbox Live mobile app that will let players using different mobile platforms play together. Microsoft-owned “Minecraft” already enables those links.
“More people play on multiple devices, rather than one device, and yet no gaming platform is really designed to service that,” Nichols said. “We believe that there is value in centering everything really around a multi-device gamer.”