Sony and Microsoft won’t let us compete against each other on our consoles, but Apple and Google have made it enticingly easy for developers to settle old scores. That means there’s a ton of games that support cross-platform multiplayer, so here are some of the best.
I’ve never had more fun playing a multiplayer game on my iPhone than the many games of Spaceteam I have frantically messed up.
The game places you on a spaceship that’s heading for disaster, and you’ve got to rescue it by hitting random buttons and knobs, while relaying (and taking) instructions from the rest of your crew (your friends). It’s a local multiplayer experience (obviously) that works with both iOS and Android over Wi-Fi.
The game itself is, rather amazingly, free, but there are a few upgrades available via in-app purchases that add additional symbols, ships, outfits, and more importantly allow you to support the developer of this incredibly fun freebie. Download it!
There’s little reason to play Minecraft on your own. Sure, you can build shelters to keep yourself safe at night, craft items, and generally enjoy the single-player aspects; but it gets a lot better when you add a few more people. Luckily, both the iOS and Android versions of Minecraft: Pocket Edition allow for cross-platform play.
At $6.99, Minecraft: Pocket Edition isn’t exactly cheap, but it sure can provide hours and hours of entertainment, as the existing online community has proved. This edition strips away a few things found in the desktop, notably redstone circuits and hunger.
The Forza Motorsport or Gran Turismo of the mobile world, Real Racing took the free-to-play leap with the arrival of Real Racing 3 and remains to this day one of the best-looking games on any mobile platform. The multiplayer uses both asynchronous “time-shifted multiplayer” ghost-style racing and real-time online battles, though you might need to spend some money on upgrades (or put up with wait timers) if you want to dominate.
The multiplayer aspect here depends on Facebook integration, but it’s still probably the best way to race virtual cars against your friends on smartphones.
Call of Duty, eat your heart out – Modern Combat is the adrenaline-filled war sim of choice for mobile platforms, and Modern Combat 4 brings cross-platform multiplayer to the party. While blatantly piggybacking on the popularity of the console smash hits that inspired it, MC4 still manages to have some unique appeal and above all is a very mobile-friendly touchscreen gaming experience.
Keep an eye out for the upcoming (and some might say delayed) Modern Combat 5, which will also presumably make use of the cross-platform multiplayer mechanic to expands its online horizons.
A legitimately bonkers game, Super Stickman Golf 2 is a sequel that builds on the success of the first with more levels, more trick shots, more hats, more online players and cross-platform multiplayer between iOS and Android.
The game made Apple’s Best of 2013 App Store list, and for good reason – with 32 courses, 250 holes, powerups, local and online multiplayer, and “race mode” multiplayer for an added twist.
A rather beautiful and action-packed platformer, Muffin Knight fuses great-looking 3D visuals with frantic platforming and lots of unlockables for a Mario-like experience on iOS or Android. The cel-shading accompanies the fairytale theme beautifully, as do the 18 different playable fairytale characters. Take on boss battles, level up your characters and play using Made for iPhone game controllers to really get the edge.
Better still, the game supports cross-platform multiplayer for head-to-head matches with your friends on either platform.
Draw Something (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; $2.99)
Draw Something should need little introduction, spawning websites dedicated solely to the art created within. It’s Pictionary for the 21st century, a parlour game for your palms, and an addictive one at that. With three platforms covered you’ll never be short of opponents, just connect your social media accounts and you can battle just about anyone with a modern smartphone.
Chess is pretty dull to those who don’t play it, so if you’re not a fan, you should give this one a skip. If you are a fan, then Chess Time might just be your new favourite app. The cross-platform multiplayer aspect mimics play-by-mail style chess games found in newspapers, except this is a lot quicker.
The game uses notifications to deliver moves, and relies on occasional adverts for revenue unless you decide to take the plunge and update for a one-time $4.99 in-app purchase.
Words with Friends (iOS, Android, Windows Phone; Free)
If you’re more of a fan of Scrabble than you are Pictionary or Chess, Words with Friends might just be the cross-platform multiplayer word game for you. While it has never managed to maintain its once-massive popularity, the game still has plenty of die-hard wordsmiths playing. Connect with Facebook or a Games With Friends account and play with your real-friends, regardless of your device.
While the game is free, Zynga stuck plenty of in-app purchases to tempt you to part with your money in the hope of scoring bigger and better words than your friends.
Oddly enough, this turn-based strategy game only costs a dollar on iOS, and just short of $5 on Android. That hopefully won’t put you off, because it’s a really good hexagonal grid-based strategy experience with a focus on building units and capturing your enemy’s bases. For what it’s worth, the single player campaign will keep you occupied, but it’s the cross-platform Android and iOS multiplayer matches that will satisfy your urges time and time again.
Take on friends individually or team-up and take on other teams online. With 3 races, 1000+ maps, and the ability to play 20 simultaneous games at once, this is a mobile gaming classic that’s grown old very gracefully indeed.
Do you have any favorite cross-platform games that you play with your friends? The list is ever-growing, so do add yours in the comments below.
If you’re more interested in PC games, you can check out how to use Parsec to play local co-op games online.