I want to believe.
I want to believe that, despite the travesty that was their previous PC gaming initiative, Games for Windows Live, and the almost none-existent Xbox integration with Windows 8 that Microsoft really means it this time. During the Windows 10 event, Phil Spencer took the stage and announced some things that give a glimmer of hope.
First of all, and this was more of a subtlety than an announcement, was the fact that Spencer made a point to launch a game from Steam, not a built in games library or app. It struck me as a tacit acknowledgement of how people play games on PCs and, hopefully, an admission that Microsoft doesn’t need to create its own platform. It’s a little thing, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The next is the merger of the Xbox One and Windows ecosystem. Now, this could easily have been just shoe-horning features from the console onto the PC and, to be honest, nothing they showed really suggests otherwise, but Phil Spencer did make a point to say that, yes, the Xbox is coming to Windows 10 but Windows 10 is also coming to the Xbox. The head of Microsoft’s Xbox division took the stage at a Windows event and almost convinced me that PC gaming is no longer going to be the bastard child of their gaming initiatives.
So what IS the new version of Windows bringing to PC gaming? First is the game DVR function. Its nothing remarkable seeing as both of the big two have had it for months but its a step towards 1st party feature parody.
Next was the ability to stream games from the Xbox One to any device running Windows 10 (including phones and tablets). To demonstrate this, Phil spencer played a bit of Forza using and Xbox One controller and a tablet. It wasn’t quite clear how the controller was attached but it’s kind of nice to think about using a real game pad with your phone or tablet as opposed to any number of janky 3rd party options. Again, this isn’t a big draw and probably adds more value to the Xbox One than the other way around, but its a cool feature.
Lastly, there’s the cross-platform functionality. Voice and text chat are fine, but the big deal is that at least one game will feature cross-platform play as well: Fable Legends. Hopefully this will get more traction than Halo 2 and Shadowrun did the last time Microsoft tried this.
Oh yeah, Halo. This presentation was dripping with Halo. It kinda makes me wonder if they’d ever bring that series back to PC, possibly with cross-platform play again. I can’t say I miss it but it’d be a big win for platform. Halo or no, it looks like Microsoft wants to pay more attention to games on Windows or, at least, that’s what I want to believe.