Microsoft's messy gaming strategy on Windows continues by delisting its own games


"The Harvest" can no longer be found in the Windows Store despite releasing just a year ago.

Microsoft's gaming strategy for its flagship operating system has been a complete mess for some time, and now the delisting of several Microsoft-published games from its own Windows and Windows Phone stores is indicative of its lack of vision.

As spotted by Windows Phone Central, several big-name Windows and Windows Phone gaming apps are being removed from their respective stores, such as "Rocket Riot" and "The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running." The latter title is notable for the fact that not only is it a Microsoft-published game, but it's also a spinoff of a Microsoft franchise for Xbox 360, Twisted Pixel's "The Gunstringer." Another noteworthy Microsoft game being removed from the Windows Store is "The Harvest," which was ported to the platform from Windows Phone in May 2013.

The games represent some of the best titles available in the Windows Store, which makes their removals all the more disappointing.

According to Windows Phone Central, several of the games will return to their respective stores sans Xbox Live features. Some titles won't return to the store, however, as Microsoft owns their rights, such as "The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running" and "Gunpowder." Developers who responded to WPC's inquiries said the games were delisted because while Microsoft published the games, most of them were still owned by the developers.


"The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running" won't return to the Windows Store unless Microsoft allows it.

"Microsoft publishing decided to trim out any titles that they do not own, and that do not fit their current portfolio," WPC says one of the developers wrote back.

One developer told WPC that he or she was "very done with [Microsoft] publishing" and that the delisting "was not our choice," though others said it will allow them to provide updates to their games quicker without Microsoft's oversight.

For those who purchased the games, the news isn't good: Because they'll no longer appear in the store, if you delete them from your device, they're gone for good. Similarly, you won't be able to install the games on new devices for the same reason. The games that will return to the Windows and Windows Phone stores, such as "Rocket Riot," will no longer be Xbox games, meaning they won't feature achievements or tie into Microsoft's gaming service in any way. And if the games cost money, users will have to purchase them again.

The situation serves as a reminder of the colossal disappointment gamers have faced with Microsoft's use of its Xbox brand on Windows and Windows Phone. The platforms already lag significantly behind Android and iOS in terms of new releases, and now some of the best exclusive games that were on the platforms may be gone forever. Those that do return won't include Xbox features, which are some of the few advantages Microsoft's operating systems have from its competition at Apple and Google.

In November 2013, Microsoft promised it would focus on "core" PC games following the release of smaller games for the Windows Store, though it's given absolutely no indication of doing anything to promote gaming on Windows. Instead, now there are less quality Windows Store games thanks to the recent delistings, and Microsoft hasn't shown any inclination of pushing core PC games like it promised. At June's E3 gaming conference, it showed no PC games during its presentation.

Games for Windows Live floundered as Microsoft gave it no support through the years, and now it remains to be seen if Microsoft will let Xbox on Windows receive the same fate.

Source: Windows Phone Central

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I've said it for a while the strategy should be to have one Store to rule them all. As long as you'll need to buy apps and games 3 times (Windows RT Store, Windows Phone Store and XBox Live Marketplace) Microsoft will struggle with their online store strategy on Mobile and PC. When a game or app is avalaible for WP, RT and Xbox you should be able to buy it once and use it on all devices. To me being able to use the same apps and games on my phone and tablet and pay for them one time only is a strong selling point. Being able to use the Steam PC games i buy on Mac is a strong selling point.

If i could buy a game on RT store and play it with no extra cost on XBox and WP (if avalaible) then it would be a very good reason to leave Steam and buy my games on the Windows Store. Right now i have no reason to support microsoft Mobile and PC stores.

Hopefully in the near future, we'll see more of linux/steam games and move away from the close source that microsoft is.

I am a windows user, but I care that Microsoft doesn't care about pc gaming since a long time now.

Just one day after “Gaming Day” Microsoft comes and stabs their users in the back. This furthers confirms Microsoft strange case of split personality. It's like Jekyll and Hyde.

One half of Microsoft is trying so hard, pouring money, time and resources on Windows Phone, trying to make it great. But the other half doesn't give a dang about Windows Phone at all and treat it like its bastard child. Heck, they should name the next version of Windows Phone, Windows Phone Snow. This half kills good resources like good quality Xbox games and gives top priority to rival platforms apps (Skype, Office, OneNote, Remote Desktop, etc) while neglecting their own apps.

It looks to me that Microsoft has so much potential and they have the power, they have the resources but they lack a passion and the direction. I don't like Google and its ways, but I have to admit that they do have that, passion and direction.

To tell you the truth, I'm getting really tired of this condition. My phone contract ends by March next year and I'm really considering other options. I love Windows Phone, but it seems clear to me that one half of Microsoft doesn't.

As someone who's bought like 70% of Xbox-branded and enhanced games for WP7/WP8 this seems beyond retarted to me. The only logical explanation i can come up with is that MS wants WP to fail so they can dump it. Or they've been infiltrated by Google body snatchers. Take your pick. Either way, this move defies stupidity. Why not just leave those titles be? How much could they possibly be costing MS to just have them on the store? It's not like WP gets dozens of new games every day. The list has basically remained static since Kinectimals released a couple months ago.

Who pays these people salaries to make these dim-witted decisions?

I think it is for the better since there has been titles under Xbox Live that were not getting updated; while the same particular title is updated in iOS and Android.

It is also could be that MS is trying to make their apps compatible for both Windows and WP.

Here's what I know based on reading this article. In summary, MS removed the "Microsoft" name that would tie those games mentioned because MS is not the developers of it. Once it's removed, it is up to developers to put it back up on the window store. I think maybe MS try to put apps on their store which was why MS choose to publish it under their name.

Again what bad thing does MS do? Am I not understanding this article?

It screws over people who have already brought the removed games, and it shows just how inept Microsoft is as a gaming publisher.

Microsoft is like Google or apple, I am not sure if publishing games is what they are after. They make platform and tools for anyone to create games. I think the anti-trust caused them not to go that route. They do own some IP like Halo though.

So, in the entertainment/gaming Tablet area, iOS and Android is winning.... So many games to be found on those 2 OS that you can't find in the MS Store...

1. Yes they are delisting some games but BECAUSE Microsoft wants to get ownership of the title, whereas right now the developer has the ownership. It's also why Ryse 2 was canceled because Crytek doesn't want to give up the rights.

2. This has the benefit of allowing developers to push updates to their games without having MS involved. Right now most of those games haven't seen updates in quite a long time, but since they are now self published the devs can push updates whenever they want to (which they couldn't before). Yes this was mentioned in the article, I know.

3. This allows developers to make more cross platform games, in the past they could only makes the games multiplayer on the xbox live platform (if they chose to publish through Xbox that is). Now they are free to publish their games on Android and iOS and allow multiplayer for them all. Sure the exclusivity loss will suck slightly but most people do not like exclusive games at all.

4. Xbox live publishing costs. Quick note, it's expensive. If they wanted Xbox to succeed on the Windows Phone they should have made the publishing cost either free or very very cheap. Right now it's just expensive and developers don't really get much out of it.

---

That said, I wish MS would stop acting like a bunch of retards and do things the right way instead of taking the hammer fisted approach, like they did. I always thought the xbox live branding for WP was pretty pointless but there are better ways to get rid of its current form instead of "HURR DURR LET US JUST DELETE ALL THE APPS WITHOUT TELLING PEOPLE."

What they should have done from the start is allow ANY game to use the xbox live features without having to pay out the nose for it and all the other restrictions / crap that comes with it (like updates). Right now it offers no real advantage that devs couldn't do on their own with minimal work. They should be pushing the xbox brand not making it harder for devs to work with it. So hopefully this signals a change in the future.

See? That's the reason I hate content stores: back in the day, if you bought Encarta you could use it no matter Wikipedia ruled the world or not. You bought software and you had the right to use it forever, now that thing is also gone, alongside many others...

Wikipedia is a bad example because you could still download all the data and run it locally. But yeah, I see what you are saying.

Valentin Radu said,
See? That's the reason I hate content stores: back in the day, if you bought Encarta you could use it no matter Wikipedia ruled the world or not. You bought software and you had the right to use it forever, now that thing is also gone, alongside many others...

Reason I go to GOG.com/dotemu.com for games (legal, drm free, re-formated to work on newer windows w/ older games) and steam 2nd (if I have to, aka elder scrolls...).

I say give Microsoft another 6 months and their gaming strategy will become clear. So far the things they have been doing are great. They may need to burn a few things down to make something much better. But, they may also be throwing gamers under the bus yet again...

Scabrat said,
I say give Microsoft another 6 months and their gaming strategy will become clear. So far the things they have been doing are great. They may need to burn a few things down to make something much better. But, they may also be throwing gamers under the bus yet again...

^^This

I've always thought that the best way for Xbox to go is the Gamecentre or Play Games route, that means that a title won't need to be Xbox enabled to access the network and cuts down on certification time.

Scabrat said,
I say give Microsoft another 6 months and their gaming strategy will become clear. So far the things they have been doing are great. They may need to burn a few things down to make something much better. But, they may also be throwing gamers under the bus yet again...

They had the whole 5 years for developing XB1 and they came up with such a mess that they changed policies few times already and sony is such a weak company came up with better planning and hardware design. plus they could easily integrate windows gaming and XBOX gaming with X86 platform and common windows core on XBox but they couldn't. don't expect much from MS on their gaming strategies.

trojan_market said,

They had the whole 5 years for developing XB1 and they came up with such a mess that they changed policies few times already and sony is such a weak company came up with better planning and hardware design. plus they could easily integrate windows gaming and XBOX gaming with X86 platform and common windows core on XBox but they couldn't. don't expect much from MS on their gaming strategies.

I just feel their new CEO is getting the company straight and they are making some excellent stuff now. I havent heard one person say they liked MS strategy for gaming other than with the XBone, which seems to be pretty good (or at least improving). I dont expect much but if tearing down a system that stinks is a way to build a great system I am all for it. I totally get people tired of waiting =). Cant blame you a bit. I just think in 6 months it will look different then it does now.

Scabrat said,

I just feel their new CEO is getting the company straight and they are making some excellent stuff now. I havent heard one person say they liked MS strategy for gaming other than with the XBone, which seems to be pretty good (or at least improving). I dont expect much but if tearing down a system that stinks is a way to build a great system I am all for it. I totally get people tired of waiting =). Cant blame you a bit. I just think in 6 months it will look different then it does now.


I like the new CEO. he is much more focused. moreover he was the head of MS server and cloud division which in my opinion along with office 365 is the Most successful part of Microsoft. He is good however unfortunately when they asked him what would you do about XBOX and Microsoft Gaming strategies he replied: "nothing more than whats happening today" maybe gaming is not his focus for now which I don't blame him because he got another fish to fry. mobile is also another mess. but is definitely more important strategically.

Mobile is also another mess. But is definitely more important strategically.

Gaming is very important in the consumer market. Some fans here like to think that what set Windows part in the consumer market is how extraordinary and awesome it is. But the matter of the fact is for most Joe Blow out there what set Windows apart is gaming and Office. You can read mails, browse the web, facebook, edit photos, draw etc on Mac and Linux just fine. And most people don't install nor configure Windows themselves so the ease of installation/configuration doesn't metter all the much most of the time in the consumer market.

I really like Apple laptops and i'v been contemplating buying one for some time to tackle with ios development. What prevent me to do so is mainly gaming. But as time pass more and more of my gaming library on Steam is Mac compatible. Pretty much all games i own able to run on a non gaming laptop are Mac compatible (and a good part of them also work on Linux). The day gaming wont be a concern is not that far.

Despite what some people might think Steam and Steam OS is a threat Microsoft needs to take seriously. I'm not saying it will succeed. It probably wont. But people did not think much of Android at first. Valve is dedicated to make Mac and Linux viable platforms as far as gaming in concerned. And this is not good for Microsoft in the consumer market. Not everyone work on their computer at home.

In my very humble opinion not taking PC gaming seriously will hurt Microsoft in the long run.

Nice to see Microsoft has not stopped this backwards policy. I remember being very annoyed when they did this with a couple of Xbox Live games I purchased on Windows Phone 7. Of course, after that I avoided Xbox Live titles like the plague.

The most frustrating part is how Microsoft consistently lops themselves off at the knees while trying to take part in a marathon race. When Windows Phone 7 launched Xbox Live looked like a great potential differentiator for them. Gaming on mobile was growing and they had a branding tie in going with an established system, including achievements. Sadly, in typical MS fashion they couldn't give themselves the best chance of success and decided to throw axes to their legs...

Xbox Live "features" should be capable of being implemented in any game on the platform. This is how it works on Android, iOS, and Fire OS. Microsoft shouldn't be required to be the only one publishing and updating "Xbox Live" titles. It should be leveraging its Xbox platform not using it as a anchor around its neck. Due to failing to properly do this they allowed every other major platform to implement all of their features and now they look silly.

Instead they are poisoning the brand with stuff like this. Essentially first party titles being removed from their own platform. How do they expect this to instil confidence in their customer base?

Best of all, devs cannot add new Xbox Live things such as achievements and more gamerscore points, unless they sell an expansion / DLC. /facepalm

And how they have to pay Microsoft in order to update / patch their own games. Which is hilarious, considering that even Microsoft's games need some heavy patching.

Meanwhile, people who support the platform by buying apps are the ones who really get ****ed. And on a platform with little developer support as it is, that sounds like a great idea.

Edited by Andrew, Jul 12 2014, 10:38am :

I purchased apps that have been de-listed, and some games. AFAIK they are still available for download-install if you go to the 'Account' 'My apps' area of the store when you can then hunt down and reinstall any game you might of uninstalled but is also now de-listed

jhoff80 said,
On Windows 8, true. On Windows Phone, no.

Ouch, Apple and Google allow you to re-download apps you've purchased (even if it was free / zero) from purchase history.

We should, just to remind people how appalling Microsoft's support of PC gaming is. That wouldn't be an issue but for the fact that Microsoft has repeatedly promised to take PC gaming seriously. It's outright offensive.

theyarecomingforyou said,
We should, just to remind people how appalling Microsoft's support of PC gaming is. That wouldn't be an issue but for the fact that Microsoft has repeatedly promised to take PC gaming seriously. It's outright offensive.

People need reminding Microsoft dont care about the PC market as much as they need reminding EA take corporate greed to new levels, or Ubisoft are incompetent, spineless cowards.

E.g people dont need reminding because it happens constantly.

McKay said,

People need reminding Microsoft dont care about the PC market as much as they need reminding EA take corporate greed to new levels, or Ubisoft are incompetent, spineless cowards.

E.g people dont need reminding because it happens constantly.


It shouldn't be a fight for most mediocre.