Cross-platform play is a fairly tricky prospect on its own, especially when you add a competitive multiplayer element into the mix. Different platforms have their inherent advantages, and it can be very hard to level the playing field and try to lessen the gap between these advantages. For example, mouse and keyboard is widely considered to be better for shooters than a gamepad controller.
However, despite all of this, Gears of War 4 is planning on introducing cross-platform play between PC and Xbox One in ranked competitive matches. Gears developer The Coalition explains the decision in a post on the game’s site. This move seems like one out of necessity, as PC players currently experience long wait times to get in to games.
Gears 4 has played with the feature, but only social playlists were able to do cross-play. The Coalition says that the testing it has done found closely-matched results in PC and Xbox players of similar skill levels. This is seemingly enough for the developer to feel comfortable with mixing the two platforms.
However, cross-play is of course not mandatory. Xbox players can remain platform-independent if they so choose. There will be a toggle on Xbox One to disable cross-play. This is an easy way to shut down any of these disadvantages. However, PC players will not have that option, likely because of the relatively small active user base.
Permanent cross-platform competitive play is not ready yet. The Coalition has yet to confirm a date but says the feature will be implemented “in the months to come.” PC will experience competitive warm-up with the cross-play feature.