Windows gaming to get a Microsoft boost?

Xbox head of games, Phil Spencer has taken to Twitter to say that Microsoft must do more to build up their gaming presence of the Windows operating system.

In the Twitter post Phil said “I agree that MS needs to up our gaming presence on Windows.  Part of my XBOX role is to bring back our Windows gaming focus.” Something that many gamers have been critical of in the past.

Since the launch of the Xbox 360 Microsoft has gradually lessened their PC gaming releases. Only the odd title such as Fable or Halo ever got released despite there being a large number of Windows gamers calling for titles to be released on the platform.

In August last year Microsoft even closed down their Games for Windows Live store, and with the upcoming shut down of the Games for Windows Live service due next month, it will be interesting to see how Microsoft go about selling PC games in the future. The obvious option is via the Windows Store, but the choice for gamers is still the Steam service and is something that Microsoft will have to look long and hard at.

The perfect time to start to push new games for Windows will be at this month’s E3 games conference, especially as Microsoft has promised that they will only be focusing on gaming after last year’s conference disaster.

It has been an interesting year for Microsoft and XBOX, but with DirectX 12 due next year, gaming could be getting a big boost both on the XBOX One and on Windows PC’s from the company, let us just hope that they are are not hollow words from Phil.

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For me the most amazing "game" Microsoft could release is Flight Simulator 11 with Direct X 11/12 and multicore support. One can dream.

What Microsoft says and what it does are two different things?
They haven't even addressed what will happen to all the games I bought from Games for windows Marketplace....

They have lost my trust as a consumer, and I will not buy any games from them directly in the future.

carson2255 said,
What Microsoft says and what it does are two different things?

May be is Bipolar or simply is playing the "tsundere" role.

eh, GFWL is dead and we don't need another IM/Store/Client when we have Steam and Origin. I'm sure there are other clients I'm missing, those 2 came to mind first.

Keep pushing on DirectX and ways for Xbox One and PC users to interact in online play (whatever form that takes). MS should be able to make Win8.1 and Xbox One talk to one another, I doubt we'll ever see anything for another console.

I think MS is in a bind here. Why buy an Xbox if you can get all the Xbox games on the PC? Sure most won't but they need a reason to keep people on the Xbox. It's the same reason you never see Sony 1st party games on PC. Funny people don't give them the same crap for that that MS gets.

Now if they were smart they'd make PC-only games that would be a legitimate draw to the platform. If I could only get game "X" from MS on the PC I'd be more inclined to go that route.

Yeah but a big part of the PC home desktop success is gaming. Let's be honest for a sec most home users these days would be fine with either Mac or Linux if gaming would be an option on those.

Despite what MS fans might think Steam OS is definately a threat in the home desktop market. Valve replaced Microsoft as the game breaker in the PC gaming industry. More and more games are relased on Mac and Linux and it is in large part due to Steam presence on those OSes (and the success of games like WoW on Mac).

It is still not a problem as the market share of Mac and Linux is still extremely low. But the longer MS ignores PC gaming like it is right now the more you'll see companies like Valve, nVidia and AMD take control of the PC gaming industry and this is definately not a good long term strategy for the home desktop market dominance MS surely wants to keep.

MS should make their games avalaible for both the PC and XBox. It doesn't really matter if people are playing them on PC or XBox as long as they are playing them on a Microsoft made OS. This is what is really important. One day the console hardware and OS might very well be integrated to the TV and the last thing MS wants is TV manufacturer to go with something else than a Microsoft OS.

I think Microsoft's strategy is really shortsighted right now. They put all their eggs in the XBox instead of an universal OS that can be used on anything with a CPU and a GPU. There's should be one OS and one Store.

Please don't give us more mandatory online bloatware achivements microtranactions. How about just installing the game without any of this bs

I've said it once and will say it again, all Microsoft needed to do with Flight was release it with a proper SDK and the world map instead of just Hawaii. The attempt to nickle and dime customers with aircraft lacking a virtual cockpit was an insult. The Graphics and flight model had good potential but Microsoft screwed up the F2P concept.
If Microsoft Re released Flight as is, but with an SDK allowing users to add Scenery and aircraft as previous Flight Simulator iterations allowed the community would do the rest. Microsoft forgot it was the community and Scenery/Aircraft creators that made FS, cutting them off sealed the fate of Flight.

Man, MS Flight sim had (still has) a giant following, who like to spend thousands of moneys for the game, its addons and what isnt rare proper flight controls and 3 monitors.
Flight sim for a lot of people (many aviators play it, go online, its awesome!) is a hobby. Not just a game.

And Microsoft killed it like they had absolutely no clue about their own users.

You know i always wandered why when MS has exlusives theres 20 post about how horrible they are for not bringing it pc but sony does it and theres MAYBE 1 comment about it. Never see post about bringing uncharted to pc but i see halo and forza alll the time. I realize its MS but dang they they cant handicap themselves if sonyand nintendo arent going to do pc either. Need something to move the consoles off the shelf.

Houtei said,
You know i always wandered why when MS has exlusives theres 20 post about how horrible they are for not bringing it pc but sony does it and theres MAYBE 1 comment about it. Never see post about bringing uncharted to pc but i see halo and forza alll the time. I realize its MS but dang they they cant handicap themselves if sonyand nintendo arent going to do pc either. Need something to move the consoles off the shelf.

It's probably because for decades now, Microsoft keep telling us we're going to have a unified system. Code once, use anywhere. Of course this never happens, and the best we can get is developers releasing a game on the PC from a console port. Direct X does make it easier to do that, but the dedicated xbox development kit is a far cry from what they'll be using on the PC to port it over.
There is no SDK that'll run a Playstation game on the PC so it's much harder for developers to port it to the PC, even if they wanted to without a lot of pre-planning.

Sony supports SDK's and such to port Windows and Xbox games to Playstation, I'm sure Microsoft has similar for Playstation to Xbox. And quite sure its doable from Playstation to Windows if there was the need.

There's also the fact that Microsoft before making the xbox was a PC games publisher and that some of the PC game series owned by MS like Age of Empire and Flight Simulator did not have a proper new version for ages now.

Uncharted is a console game. People realise it and accept it. But PC gamers want a new Age Of Empire or a new real Flight Simulator. Also Halo was a Mac/Windows game before Microsoft bought Bungie to make it an xbox exclusive. Lot of PC gamers did not like this move.

As someone who hasn't really played computer games since Warcraft (yikes, Googling that scares me that that is mid 90s) and has never had a console, can someone explain the point of an Xbox? I appreciate it gives a baseline for devs to work against to make the most of the hardware, but is that all that much better than just having PCs games with settings for graphic quality? Kinect supports Windows,; if MS had put all their resources into PC gaming and not bothered with the Xbox how would gaming have suffered? To me it seems like the PC gaming ecosystem would be much stronger if they hadn't gotten distracted by the Xbox.

There would be a lot more games for PCs if there were no Xbox and sure many people wouldn't have good enough machines to run certain games, or would have to put the graphics to low detail but still it'd be better than having to buy this separate Xbox machine. You'd have one system, not two and the Xbox with some cut down version of Windows on it. For gamers having that extra $400-500 to put towards better PC components to run their games would surely be a better option than buying another box.

I realise this may be a very silly question, I'm not trolling, I am just very ignorant of what's happened with gaming in the last 20 years.

I'll try to answer for you.

For Microsoft to push on the PC platform, they had to contend with 'the' console.

At the time of the original xbox launch, Sony had already gobbled up pretty much every publisher with exclusive rights and that even started to eat away at the PC market.

You have to remember back when the Playstation 2 came out, the Playstation 1 had already set the benchmark for shear amount of game that were, for the most part, on par with what the PC gamers at large were able to do with their non-3d cards. Yet, for the consumer, it was as simple as putting the disc in to the console and picking up the control pad (at this point even using a control pad on a PC was hit and miss with drivers being required, and most were midi via the sound card's game expansion port)

It was easy for developers work with one system and produce games they knew would work, on every Playstation. When you compare that to the PC where there wasn't even a proper Direct X for developers to use yet, since there wasn't enough 3d cards to take advantage of yet, at the same time there were so many graphics, and sound cards that programming a game on the PC meant you needed to support at least 2 different types of sound card drivers and at least 2 different ways of producing your graphics and that's without worrying about what version of windows, how much ram, where it was installed to and all the rest of the shared library .dll hell.

While the 3D cards didn't really kick off for everyone until NVidia came along and steamrolled the market, it was mainly down to Microsoft's own game studios and bank balance that put the Direct X, as a tool, into the hands of the developers.
This meant that the same developers on the PC could easily transfer what they knew to the Xbox and then again, back to the PC using the same API set.

As more games were released as Direct X, people started only buying graphics cards that were Direct X compatible. As a result, there was a explosion of games that were Direct X on the PC, and later on the XBOX platform as it gained momentum.

This was a big changing point not only for PC gamers and PC developers, but also it gave Microsoft, along with the original XBOX a big say in what developers were exclusive when the PS3 launched along with the Xbox 360. Microsoft had signed up almost every past Sony exclusive publisher to make games for their Xbox 360 on launch, with the idea mostly PC versions of the games coming along too.

That's Direct X from a graphics card and sound card point of view, but Direct X also did a lot of other great things for developers, the API it presented to the developer meant they could just code for Direct X. They didn't have to worry about if the graphics card was a NVidia, or ATI, or a SIS, Novacom etc.

So for the PC market to grow as it has done it's largely thanks to Microsoft's efforts to push Direct X if nothing else, to keep developers on board with Windows PCs. That's not to say there weren't already alternatives, Open GL was and still is good for games and even works across platforms, on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, but there just wasn't the market share to stop Sony from just becoming 'the gaming machine' everyone had to have.

Of course now, we all play games and don't really think about Direct X and why our graphics card that can out perform even the XBOX One even though every single one of us PC gamers probably have a totally different system setup.

Without the xbox, we certainly wouldn't have as many games on the PC simply because the big developers would have moved to the consoles and the ones that were left might not have even decided to use Direct X, then Microsoft wouldn't have continued with it's development.

Unfortunately Microsoft lost it's way a bit after the 360 was launched, mostly because PC hardware moved a lot faster then the XBOX could ever do. The direct X API was upgraded on the PC to make use of newer hardware features and the 360.. well that kind of just went stagnant. Developers however were full swing into Direct X by that point and it was much easier for them to port games to the PC.
Making a game on the PC and then porting to the console is a headache when you're having to downgrade certain hardware features just to get it working on the console, or remove some graphics because the console is under powered to run them. Then, because the PCs are so powerful, it's easier to just make a sloppy port from the console and let the PC just power through any sluggish optimisation issues.

@sagum thanks for the detailed reply, much appreciated.

So with all that back-drop I can see why in the past they needed it. But now it seems like MS could create a "reference PC for gaming" to which OEMs could build and brand them as "Windows for Gaming". Some sort of certification process by which PCs would have minimum specs so that devs would be able to code for that. Then people could buy these gaming machines (or build their own) and then only require the one device. Then MS could put all the advances that are in the Xbox One software wise into Windows and have a much stronger platform and ecosystem to compete. As you say PC hardware & Direct X have advanced so fast the need for the Xbox now seems less than it did in the past. Or have I missed another point?

Don't do anything besides bringing your IPs to the PC. We don't need any more services to get or maintain games. We just want your games on the PC.

ZipZapRap said,
Microsoft, turn games into universal apps across Xbox and PC.

Well I'm sure we'll see a modern app for PC at some point called "Xbox" which will be the launcher that stores all games in isolated storage.

IMO, they should update store to handle desktop applications, let 'em integrate with xbox live and just release games thru that. No need for additional platforms or hassles.

Crimson Rain said,
IMO, they should update store to handle desktop applications, let 'em integrate with xbox live and just release games thru that. No need for additional platforms or hassles.

Since it's free, they only let you list your desktop app, if they wanted to fully manage it through the store like modern apps then I'm sure there's some fee that will have to be worked out. I never looked into it but I doubt games are listed on Steam for free.

With the amount of PC games I see on torrents, it's going to be a while before MS really gets back into PC games like that.

Without some kind of heavily enforced DRM, MS may not be in a hurry to even bother.


Edited by Showan, Jun 3 2014, 11:31am :

How about giving paid users the same experience that the pirates get, They don't need an online account or bloatware running in the background just to play a single player game.

Showan said,
This is Microsoft we're talking about here.
I honestly don't think there's a chance of this ever happening.

Would be nice if they would switch their opinions like they did with Xbox and Windows 8 and actually start giving us awesome games.

Good news. I miss Microsoft in the PC gaming market. That goes for their hardware also. I still haven't found a mouse as good as my old IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0. No gimmicks, no flash, just an excellent all around gaming mouse. Come on home Microsoft!

They'll buy Valve :D - removes the threat of steambox and gets them Steam + all the games!

Or they buy Sony :p

blerk said,
They'll buy Valve :D - removes the threat of steambox and gets them Steam + all the games!

Or they buy Sony :p

Steambox a threath to MS? Yeah, cant see that happening any time soon...

alwaysonacoffebreak said,

Steambox a threath to MS? Yeah, cant see that happening any time soon...

I'm sceptical myself, but Valve don't have a huge history of failures. They just keep pushing and iterating until it's a success.

Kushan said,

I'm sceptical myself, but Valve don't have a huge history of failures. They just keep pushing and iterating until it's a success.


yes but for something that make sense (steam client on windows) not steambox that they created just because they loved linux.

trojan_market said,

yes but for something that make sense (steam client on windows) not steambox that they created just because they loved linux.

Steam didn't make a lot of sense when it first appeared. People HATED it. It was broken, slow and prone to issues. When HL2 came out, it didn't "make sense" to have to have an internet connection to play a SP game.

Kushan said,

Steam didn't make a lot of sense when it first appeared. People HATED it. It was broken, slow and prone to issues. When HL2 came out, it didn't "make sense" to have to have an internet connection to play a SP game.


see the difference was there was no real good competitor. now they are competing with Playstation and XBOX. its much tougher. on the other hand steam client made sense because people needed a software like that, publisher needed DRM to control piracy and etc... who needs to play linux based game on living room on an overpriced PC?

They'll do what they did with Halo Spartan Assault. Release it via the windows store first, then 4-5 months later or w/e they'll release it via steam. The only thing now is what games to do? If we're talking PC then the obvious first choice is to bring back the RTS' and go with that. New AoE, and so on which fit best on the PC, maybe with tablet, touch friendly, counterparts/companion apps as well.

After that, since re-releasing HD remakes seems to be the hot new thing for developers to do, take the old 360 hits and release those on the XB1 and PC together. It's not like they'll do much just for the XB1, or heck, give the XB1 version a week or so head start and then release the PC versions if you want. It's not like they don't have any options and are searching for things to do, they have the Store, and Steam later on as another boost.

George P said,
They'll do what they did with Halo Spartan Assault. Release it via the windows store first, then 4-5 months later or w/e they'll release it via steam.

A release which was just a piece of crap. But then I'm PC gamer first, so I consider everything that has been direct X-to-PC port crap, and simply not worth playing. There are a thousand other games already waiting to be played, and had the PC as the platform in mind, not just some silly afterthought.

elenarie said,

A release which was just a piece of crap. But then I'm PC gamer first, so I consider everything that has been direct X-to-PC port crap, and simply not worth playing. There are a thousand other games already waiting to be played, and had the PC as the platform in mind, not just some silly afterthought.

Then play those, I enjoyed Halo SA on my Windows tablet.

Exactly. Microsoft has shown nothing but contempt for PC gamers. They're charging £30 for Age Of Empires 3 on Steam, despite it being nearly a decade old; Halo and Halo 2 were massively delayed and poorly made on PC, while the later games didn't even make it; GFWL was simply offensive.

I'll believe Microsoft cares about PC gaming when it releases Halo simultaneously on PC and XB1, announces a new AAA, non-F2P Age Of Empires game and actually pays some attention to PC gaming in the next version of Windows. Even DX12 is heavily focused on the XB1.

theyarecomingforyou said,
They're charging £30 for Age Of Empires 3 on Steam

That's actually pretty bad, i own the AOE 3 Complete Collection which i got on disc for less than £20 years ago. I also got a digital copy on Games for Windows Live for 69p or something daft like that. No idea if i can actually re install that, i think i can as you can still download the Games for Windows client and sign in, however the CD keys work with my disc copy anyway, so still perfect for LAN play.

theyarecomingforyou said,
I'll believe Microsoft cares about PC gaming when it releases Halo simultaneously on PC and XB1

And not only that, but also makes it keyboard and mouse first on PC, and not some stupid port that has fps limiter, stuck FoV, limited configuration options and other silly things that gets left out just because devs are either incompetent to implement them or don't care and only release their games on PC to fill their bottom lines.

If an indie mod developer can provide dozens and dozens of configuration options, full support for mouse, keyboard, and controller, without limits to FoV or fps, a multibillion corporation should have no excuses not to do that.

elenarie said,
Will not happen, as simple as that.

I actually, though I may be stupid for thinking it, think Microsoft will start pushing more games for windows. They needed to kill GFWL cause that service sucked. But they have started re-releasing refreshes of older games for PC and there are rumors of newer games coming. Who knows, maybe they will start a new service for gaming and reboot their focus on it.

You are probably right of course, but there may be a small glimmer of light appearing at the end of this dark tunnel... =)

theyarecomingforyou said,
They're charging £30 for Age Of Empires 3 on Steam, despite it being nearly a decade old

Aha, so just exactly the same way they do with x years old games on Xbox Live Marketplace then? 3 year old games still £30 - £40 when boxed copies pre-owned (even new on Amazon) can be got for £5 thereabouts? It isn't just PC that happens on.

Give us Forza, halo or any other stinking game.
I gave up on Microsoft bringing anything worthwhile to the PC Gaming table.
Besides rewriting 10 year old crap and selling as if they just invented it. (AOE2, AOM, RoN).

Microsoft only does gaming for the Xbox, PC is meh. Thanks Microsoft, you guys have so incredibly much IP to make games from. And all you do is "Xbox this, Xbox that, all hail Xbox".

Mr.XXIV said,
yea, what's the point of having a powerful pc if you don't have a powerful game

As long as the publishers keep giving the OK for developers to port from consoles to PC, we're only ever going to have substandard, poorly optimised, and low quality PC counterparts.

I think, again, Microsoft has under-estimated their gaming target audience.

League of Legend's Riot reported that they had 27 million people play the LoL daily, with a concurrent players peak at 7.5M. Each month 67 million players login to play LoL.

67 million for one PC title.
Xbox Live accounts only total 48 million members.

Mr.XXIV said,
You forget that half the Lol accounts are Smurfs. I have 2 Lol accounts.

Maybe, but a lot of people have two xbox live accounts also.

Even if we decide to half the number of LoL accounts to take in to consideration of Smurfs that still gives over 33million active players every month, in one game vs 48 on the entire xbox platforms.

I totally agree. I've always been a PC gamer at heart. What Microsoft did with Windows Games belongs to the Microsoft of the past, the omnipotent and arrogant Microsoft of old. These are new times, Microsoft knows it and they must act.

EdwinTheWise said,
There are litteraly thousands of companies making games for PC.........

Besides EA, do they all give us the same empty promises time and time again?
Microsoft has been stating they are going to give Windows gaming a boost for several years now, and all they do is refresh old titles, and not even in a good way.

The Microsoft of the 90s brought us some amazing and awesome games Ive spent hundreds of hours on. But since Xbox all they bother for is their console.

Mr.XXIV said,
You forget that half the Lol accounts are Smurfs. I have 2 Lol accounts.

Lot of people have many xbox live accounts thanks to the trials ...