Any software program, particularly a Video Game, that is simultaneously developed and (usually) simultaneously released for more than one system.
Functionally, multi-platform games differ from ports in that the game was written with the other systems in mind even during initial development.
The time and effort to make a multi-platform game is not as great as some assume. Some developers have stated that it raises the cost only about 10 percent. This can vary quite a bit depending on how differences between platforms in question are. For instance, the Xbox and PC versions of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time are quite similar; the iPhone and PS3 versions of The Force Unleashed are quite a bit different.
While multi-platform games were not uncommon during the 16-bit and 32-bit console generations, particularly among western developers, they started becoming more prevalent during the sixth console generation. Even though the PlayStation 2 was the biggest selling console of this era, games on the Xbox and GameCube still sold well enough to ensure an even bigger profit than on the PS2 alone for very little extra development. The fact that the Xbox was a functionally small PC running an embedded version of Windows didn't hurt either.
By the seventh generation multi-platform development became the norm for most third-party developers due to the ever increasing budgets in mainstream games as a result of the standardization of HD displays. Series that used to be at least timed-exclusive went multi-platform and with the Xbox 360 selling just as well as the PlayStation 3 this time around, Japanese developers that neglected the Xbox during the previous generation (due to the brand's poor reach in Japan) ended up making their games on both consoles. The trend continued with the eighth (and current) generation, with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One both adopting the X86-64 architecture used by current PCs, leading to less disparities between the different platforms. In fact, console versions of games are more like their PC counterparts than ever before with the introduction of the later high-performing models, the PlayStation 4 Pro and the Xbox One X, forcing developers to scale their games to suit the different models of each console just like how PC developers had to take into consideration various possible hardware specifications. Some games that might be exclusive on one console (whether it'll be PlayStation or Xbox) will still get a PC version thanks to easy portability.
Meanwhile Nintendo, which has adopted a blue ocean strategy since the seventh generation, tend to have consoles that are less focused on hardware performance and more on introducing new hardware features or gimmicks to the market. The Wii, which was essentially a GameCube with an overclocked CPU and wasn't capable of HD output, tended to have downgraded versions of PS3/Xbox 360 games (if the particular game had a Wii version at all) or its multiplats were shared with the previous generation of consoles, particularly with the PS2 (which was still receiving new games in the late 2000's due to its large install base). The Wii U was more on par with the PS3 and Xbox 360 in terms of performance, but not as powerful as the later-released PS4 and Xbox One. As a result, the Wii U had several multiplats shared with the previous generation early in its lifespan, but this gradually died out when developers began focusing on the newer generation after the Wii U turned out to be a commercial failure (being the least selling Nintendo home console since the GameCube). Their current console, the Nintendo Switch, while an improvement over the Wii U specs-wise, is still behind the competition in terms of performance, but its success along with the portability aspect has allowed both, developers and consumers, to overlook this fact, resulting in a small share of multiplats.
On the PC side of things, some games are literally multi-platform, with the versions for different platforms (say, Windows, Macintosh, and Linux) all on the same physical media (sometimes called a "hybrid" release.) This is Older Than the NES in PC-land; in the days of 5.25" floppy disks, some games were released with a version for one computer (for example, the Commodore 64) on one side, and a version for another (Apple ][, IBM PC, or Atari 8-bit) on the other. Obviously, this sort of thing doesn't fly in console-land, due to dictatorial fiat console companies have over developers (possibly carried over from the days of carts, when it was physically impossible.)
Keep in mind the difference between this and a port. If a game was made for one system first, any version past that is a port or remake, like Tetris.
Releases among series that usually or previously develop for one system:
- Dark Souls, the Spiritual Successor to the PS3 exclusive Demon's Souls, launched on both the PS3 and Xbox 360 and has since been ported to the PC. It helps that the two are technically different IPs, whereas one is owned by Sony, and the other is owned by Namco-Bandai.
- Devil May Cry started off as a PS2-exclusive series. However, part 4, which was developed on the MT Frameworks engine, debuted on both, PS3 and Xbox 360, and the series has been multi-platform since then.
- Digimon World 4 was released for the PS2, Xbox and GameCube. The earlier titles were only for the original PlayStation, and later ones were only for the Nintendo DS.
- Final Fantasy:
- Final Fantasy XI is notable for being not only multi-platform, but the first MMORPG to cross the console-PC divide. It started on the PS2, got a PC version, and eventually got an Xbox 360 version by the third expansion, Treasures of Aht Urhgan.
- Final Fantasy XIII was announced for the Xbox 360 midway through development after it had been originally announced for the PS3. Initially the 360 version was slated to be released only for the overseas market, but it eventually got a release in Japan as a budget-priced "Ultimate Hits International" edition a year after the PS3 version.
- Final Fantasy XIV was released for PC and PS3 simultaneously, later getting a PS4 release. No matter which version you own, it's possible to play with anyone in the game, even if everyone's on different platforms. The game was also scheduled to be released on the Xbox 360, but Microsoft refused Square-Enix the ability to let their game have cross severs with Microsoft's own servers as well as not allowing them to have their game bypass Microsoft's Xbox Live's fees.
- Grand Theft Auto IV debuted simultaneously on the PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2008, despite the fact that Grand Theft Auto III and its two prequels (Vice City and San Andreas) were all first released on the PS2 and took their time to arrive on the original Xbox and PC (whereas the original top-down 2D games were both originally for PC). In fact, the two DLC campaigns for the game ("The Lost and The Damned" and "The Ballad of Gay Tony") were exclusive to the 360 for a whole year before they were available in a bundle (Episodes From Liberty City) on the PS3 and PC.
- The Hitman games were multi-platform since the second entry (Hitman 2: Silent Assassin), but the original (Hitman: Codename 47) was and still remains a PC-exclusive.
- Kingdom Hearts III was released on the Xbox One, as well as the PS4, despite none of the previous games in the series ever being released on an Xbox console before. Not even the first two mainline games, which were originally released on the PS2, remastered on PS3 along with some of the spinoffs (as HD 1.5 Remix and HD 2.5 Remix respectively), ported to the PS4 in a two-in-one compilation and eventually reissued in a bundle with Kingdom Hearts 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue (another compilation of spinoffs) titled Kingdom Hearts: The Story Thus Far. Whereas PS4 owners have access to practically the whole saga (or at least the essential ones), Xbox One owners are given no such luxury and are still forced to own at least one other console if they wish to experience everything that happened before III.
- The Legend of Zelda:
- Twilight Princess was developed for the GameCube, but the game was delayed to the point where Nintendo realized they could release it on the Wii at the same time and have a launch game for that system. This succeeded, as the combined sales of both versions have made it the second best-selling game in the series.note
- Breath of the Wild was taking too much time in development than expected, and since the Wii U was not selling well anyway, the decision was made to delay the game even further and simultaneously release it on their next platform, the Nintendo Switch. This left the Wii U in the position of being the only Nintendo home console without a unique Zelda game of its own, since its only other Zelda games were remastered ports of the two GameCube games (Wind Waker and Twilight Princess).
- Mass Effect was originally released as an Xbox 360 exclusive in 2007, with a PC port following year. The sequel followed suit with a simultaneous Xbox 360 and PC launch in 2010, only to get a PS3 version the year after with some of the downloadable content from the previous versions already included on-disc. The third game would debut on all three aforementioned platforms (and the Wii U) in 2012, which led to the original game finally getting a PS3 port as part of a bundle with the sequels, as well as a digital download on PSN.
- Mega Man
- Mega Man 8 and Mega Man X4 were both released on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn after all the prior numbered entries in both series were released on the NES and Super NES.note X5 and X6 on the other hand, were strictly PlayStation games, with X7 and X8 being released on the PS2.
- Mega Man 9 was initially announced as a Wii-exclusive and while this was true for a while in Japan, the PS3 and Xbox 360 versions were released shortly after the Wii version in North America and Europe. Mega Man 10 on the other hand, was available on all three platforms at the same time in each region.
- The Legacy Collections of the classic and Mega Man X series saw a release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC through Steam. The classic series' Legacy Collection also later got released on the 3DS for the first one while both games were re-released on the Nintendo Switch with added amiibo support.
- Mega Man 11 was released on all four of the current home platforms (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam).
- Metal Gear
- Metal Gear Solid V was the first mainline entry in the Metal Gear franchise that was developed with multiple platforms in mind, which was the main drive behind the creation of the FOX Engine that the game was made with. Prior to this, Substance (the expanded edition of Metal Gear Solid 2) was initially a timed-exclusive for the original Xbox before it was released on PS2 and PC, while the HD Collection (a compilation that contains remastered ports of Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 and Peace Walker) was released simultaneously on the PS3 and Xbox 360, but these were ports of games that were originally on the PS2 (or in case of Peace Walker, the PSP). Metal Gear Solid V was not only a multi-platform project from the get-go, but it was even released across two console generations, being announced initially for the PS3 and Xbox 360, but ultimately coming out on the PS4 and Xbox One as well. The Steam version of the stand-alone prologue (Ground Zeroes) was released several months after the console versions had already come out, but the main game (The Phantom Pain) launched on all five platforms upon its release date.
- Prior to Metal Gear Solid V, Kojima Productions was developing a spinoff titled Metal Gear Solid: Rising in-house for both, the PS3 and Xbox 360, shortly after the PS3-exclusive Metal Gear Solid 4 finished development. However, a troubled development resulted in the project being outsourced to PlatinumGames, who ended up retitling the game Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance and developing it on their own engine.
- Metal Wolf Chaos was originally an Xbox exclusive title that never left the shores of Japan due to various factors that kept from seeing a release overseas. It's remastered XD version, however, will not only be available to international audiences, but FromSoftware wanted to give newcomers that were never able to experience the game outside of various gameplay videos floating around the web, so they elected to release the game on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC (through Steam and GOG.com) for the remastered version.
- The Naruto: Ultimate Ninja series was exclusive to PlayStation brand platforms for the longest time... until Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2, which was released for the Xbox 360 in addition to the PS3. Every new entry in the series since then had been released for both platforms.
- Onimusha: Warlords was initially a PS2-exclusive (as were the sequels), but it did get a port for the original Xbox titled Genma Onimusha, which added some exclusive content. The 2019 remaster was released for Steam, PS4, Xbox One and Switch, but is based strictly on the PS2 original, lacking any of the Genma additions.
- Persona 5 was released simultaneously for the PS4 and PS3, narrowly missing out on the latter.
- The first two Pokémon Mystery Dungeon games (though technically different games, were the same in almost every way) were released for the GBA and the DS.
- Resident Evil 5 was developed and released for both, the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, from the get-go, being the first game in the series developed on Capcom's in-house MT Framework cross-platform engine. However, the first three numbered entries, while originally PlayStation games, were not necessarily made with exclusivity in mind and were subsequently ported to a variety of platforms as a result. Resident Evil 4 on the other hand, was intended to be a GameCube-exclusive, but the underwhelming sales of the console resulted in the game being a timed-exclusive instead, getting a PS2 port with added content less than a year after the GameCube original (before ultimately becoming the most ported game in the series).
- Resident Evil Code: Veronica was developed with the intention of being a Dreamcast-exclusive, which is part of the reason why it was not a numbered entry. However, when Sega announced the discontinuation of the Dreamcast, Capcom developed an expanded edition of the game titled Code: Veronica X, which was released on both, the PS2 and Dreamcast in Japan. Only the PS2 version of Code: Veronica X was released overseas and the game was later ported to the GameCube and eventually got a remastered release on the PS3 and Xbox 360 alongside the aforementioned RE4.
- The Resident Evil remake, along with its prequel Resident Evil 0, actually kept their exclusivity status for quite a while, with the only versions of both games that were available for more than a decade were the GameCube originals and the later Wii ports. It wasn't until the HD Remaster editions of both games, released in 2014 and 2016 respectively, that they were made available across several non-Nintendo platforms (namely the PS3 and Xbox 360, as well as the PS4, Xbox One and Steam).
- Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny is the only Rune Factory game to be multi-platform (on the Wii and the PS3; previous titles had been for the DS or Wii only) and the first Harvest Moon or Rune Factory to have a simultaneous multi-platform release.
- Ryu Ga Gotoku Ishin, a feudal-themed spinoff of the Yakuza series, was released as a Japanese launch game for the PS4 in 2014, with Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami (a prequel to and a remake of the original Yakuza respectively) following suit in 2015. While all three games were released for the PS4 in Japan, the PS3 was still viable enough at that point to get its own versions of each game too. However, when Sega decided to bring 0 and Kiwami overseas in 2017, only the PS4 versions got localized, as the PS3 was already seen as a dead console by that point (with the prior 2015 English version of Yakuza 5 having been a digital-only game). Ishin on the other hand remained a Japan-exclusive, much like Ryu Ga Gotoku Kenzan!, the previous feudal-themed Yakuza spinoff that incidentally was the first game in the series for the PS3.
- Shadow Complex was originally an Xbox 360-exclusive download title, but its remastered re-release is available for Xbox One, PS4, and PC.
- Street Fighter has gone back and forth between platform-specific ports and multi-platform releases depending on the console generation.
- Super Street Fighter II was technically the first Street Fighter game that was ported to multiple platforms at the same time, being released on both, the Super NES and Sega Genesis. Originally Street Fighter II and Street Fighter II Turbo were released exclusively on the SNES. Sega, who were already working with Capcom on getting a port of Champion Edition (which was previously ported to the PC Engine in Japan) released on the Genesis, had their version of the game delayed in order to bring in more features when they learned about the Turbo version that was coming out on the SNES. The resulting Genesis version ended up being retitled Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition and is almost identical to Turbo in terms of content, the main difference between the two being the default game mode (both versions allow you to choose between Champion Edition and Hyper Fighting rules from the main menu).
- The first two Street Fighter Alpha games got near-simultaneous releases on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn (with Alpha 2 in particular also getting an SNES release). Alpha 3 also came out on the Sega Saturn, but only after it was released on the PlayStation and Dreamcast and only in Japan (since the Saturn was considered a dead platform in the west by that point).
- Street Fighter III took a while to be ported to consoles and when it was, it was only available on the Dreamcast in a two-in-one compilation that also included the second iteration, 2nd Impact. 3rd Strike was also ported to the Dreamcast at first, but came out a bit later on the PS2 and the original Xbox.
- Street Fighter IV was released simultaneously on the PS3 and Xbox 360 a few months after the arcade release. Super Street Fighter IV, the second iteration, actually got a console release before the aptly-named Arcade Edition update.
- Street Fighter V is a PS4-console exclusive with a release on PC as well.
- Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U became the first installment in the Smash series to be released for two different systems, namely the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U.
- Team Ninja is an example of a developer making exclusives for a specific console brand before going multi-platform. They started off as an arcade developer, with the first two Dead or Alive games being ported to the Sega and PlayStation consoles available at the time, but when they started making their games directly for consoles, they initially favored the Xbox over the other sixth-gen platforms. Dead or Alive 3, Xtreme Beach Volleyball and the Ninja Gaiden reboot were all exclusives to the original Xbox, while Dead or Alive 4, Xtreme 2 and Ninja Gaiden II were released for the Xbox 360. While the PS3 did get ports of the two Ninja Gaiden games in the form of the Sigma series, these were drastically altered from the Xbox originals. After director Tom Itagaki departed from Tecmo, Team Ninja started to make their games multi-platform again, with Dead or Alive 5 and Ninja Gaiden III being released on both, the PS3 and Xbox 360.
- Tekken 6 was exempt from the series' Sony leash and allowed to be released on the Xbox 360 as well as the PS3.
- The Witcher 3 launched simultaneously on PC, PS4 and Xbox One, despite the first two Witcher games being strictly for PC (although The Witcher 2 did saw an Xbox 360 port a year after its release).
- Various crowd-funded video games from sites such as Kickstarter and IndieGoGo sometimes offer multi-platform releases as stretch goals on said projects.
Titles or series notable for being multi-platform:
- Most licensed games
- Another World
- Anarchy Reigns
- Asura's Wrath
- Call of Duty
- Dragon Age
- The Elder Scrolls, starting with Morrowind
- Guitar Hero
- LEGO Adaptation Game
- Lollipop Chainsaw
- Madden NFL
- Medal of Honor
- Mortal Kombat
- Naev, an open-source freeware game available for PC, Mac, and most Linux distros.
- NBA Jam
- Need for Speed
- Nobunaga's Ambition (but only in Japan)
- Rock Band
- Romance of the Three Kingdoms (but sometimes only in Japan)
- Sonic the Hedgehog, after Sega's hardware division imploded.
- Pillars of Eternity, a Kickstarter-funded RPG by Obsidian that will be compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux, and released on both GOG and Steam.
- Puyo Puyo, even before Sega's hardware division imploded.
- Rick Dangerous was developed concurrently for all major British computers (except for the Acorn Archimedes, which received a port several years later), as well as its sequel. Though the Atari ST and Amiga were the lead platforms, the screen width was deliberately limited the ZX Spectrum's lower resolution and the character sprites were sized to fit the Commodore 64.
- Rise of the Robots
- Temple of Apshai
- Time Shift
- Tomb Raider
- Many Ubisoft properties:
- Assassin's Creed
- Beyond Good & Evil
- Prince of Persia
- Tom Clancy games like Splinter Cell and Rainbow Six. Some from around the turn of the seventh generation were notable for having one version for the next-gen consoles and a different one for the previous-gen. Particularly Splinter Cell: Double Agent, which had "Version One" for the next-gen consoles and PC, and a "Version Two" for previous-gen consoles.
- Most Blizzard titles.
- The Humble Indie Bundle releases have all been on Mac, PC, and Linux, and the most recent Bundles have added Android to the list.