So The 800-Pound Gorilla Wants its Bananas Back
Cue Microsoft, stage left. "I think it's fair to say that we've lost our way a bit in supporting Windows games," said Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer. "But we're back." It's nicey, encouraging, and suspicious as hell, especially given the upcoming Xbox One release, not to mentions the corporate personality some of the system's now rolled back features implied.
Suspicion is that the Steam OS announcement has finally gotten Microsoft's attention. From a business standpoint, Microsoft has recently had an unmistakable lean towards games supporting games on its Xbox console. But who can blame them, right? PC games don't collect a licensing fee, after all. Taking it a step further, though, proprietary franchises like Halo and Gears of War only a limited or token appearance on PC.
Nevertheless, this attitude looks like it's getting a much needed overhaul, though, as it now seems like a real possibility that a modern iteration of the Windows OS might not be a staple in the PC gamer's tech roster. Could this be a good thing, sure, but my marketing fluff senses are tingling. Titles mentioned by Microsoft such as Titanfall and Project Spark, which, while welcome to the PC nation, are flagship titles of the Xbox One. That said, the new Xbox runs a Windows kernel and porting games should (theoretically) be easier; Microsoft has already said that porting limited versions of Windows 8 apps will come in time, so the opposite is likely feasible as well.
Considering this, a suspicious PC gamer might wonder how much effort is really going into the crossover. Logically speaking, a PC is a higher end machine than its equivalent generation console and, given that it is a lot easier to downscale than upscale and gives better results to both parties, a PC-minded (or even unbiased) developer would start at PC and work back down. As a result, PC gamers have been overrun with a slew of bad ports, whether they are plagued by unrefined controls or insulted by 1000%+ markups on IOS games while companies like CD Projekt Red are making downright killer games for PC and giving the console downgrades their due justice.
All said and sarcasm aside, the news is good for PC gamers, regardless of the intent behind it. The announcement comes with mention of cross-platform play and purchasing, which are tantalizing, if properly implemented. The only question is, exactly HOW good will the shift be and what are the strings attached? Let's just hope that this isn't another foray into projects like Games for Windows Live or an attempt to turn the Windows 8 store into the next Steam.