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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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