Microsoft has been known in the past to state that they were going to “support” the PC as a gaming platform, yet nothing really came from the company despite those claims. Put that on repeat for several more years, combine that will the archaic Games for Windows Live and you see why the PC gaming community has really put a lot of faith into Microsoft or any support from them. Going into 2015, however, Microsoft Xbox President Phil Spencer, made a effort to claim that Microsoft does in fact understand the needs of the PC Gaming community and acknowledges that the company does need to become more involved. But can Spencer be trusted? Should we as PC gamers allow Microsoft into our lives again, outside of their OS’s that is?
During GDC 2015, Spencer took to the stage and announced that not only will the upcoming DirectX 12 benefit the Xbox One and PC, but it will also help pull more power from existing and upcoming hardware, including changing how Nvidia’s SLI and AMD’s Crossfire work on PC (look it up.) He also announced that the PC would finally get a way to use the Xbox One controller via the use of a wireless receiver.
We also got wind of the Windows 10 ability to stream Xbox One titles to the PC and a demonstration of Forza Horizon 2 and Fable Legends being streamed to a Surface 3 tablet. Lastly, he admitted that Microsoft as a company has acknowledged that the PC is a viable platform for gaming and that they had lost their way when it came to the PC; they have plans to turn that around. All in all, it was a good showing and a sign of things to come, it definitely had my attention.
That was step one.
Rewind back to E3 2015, where we not only got a better look at the Xbox One controller dongle or better yet an USB transceiver that will only work with Windows 10 enabled PCs, but we also got word that Killer Instinct will be making the jump to the PC as will The Coalition’s Gears of War: Ultimate, both with enhancements for the PC such as a higher resolution, frame rate and visuals. The Killer Instinct announcement was sort of hinted at, since there was a poll on the official Killer Instinct forums from Iron Galaxy and Microsoft themselves, asking if the fans would want a PC version. The GoW: Ultimate announcement, on the other hand was quite unexpected and while I am glad to see that the PC gamers will also get to share in the fun, hopefully this also means that perhaps a Gears of War 4 port is a future possibility.
Going further into this weeks Gamescom 2015 event, Microsoft announced that Halo Wars 2 will make an appearance on the PC as will Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider w sometime in early 2016. While Tomb Raider is a 3rd party title, Microsoft does have exclusive rights to the title for the time being and it will only be available on the Xbox One and PC until holiday 2016, where it will then make the jump to the PlayStation 4. They also hinted that we may wind up getting other Xbox exclusive titles that may or may not make it over. They seem to beholding their poker face and are going to wait and see how the well the PC gaming community takes their recent efforts.
They even admitted that Games for Windows Live was not the right approach, as stated by senior director for PC gaming for the Xbox group, Kevin Unangst.
“Games for Windows was a prior approach where it was more, at that time, like ‘how do we take things?'” he said, “We knew we wanted to help make great multiplayer, we knew we wanted to bring things over… but it wasn’t the right approach. It was the approach of ‘let’s just take those things and transplant them’.”
So it would seem on the surface (get it?) that Microsoft is indeed focused or at the very least, is focusing on the PC as a gaming plaform. Per Phil Spencer in an interview with PC gamer;
“A combination of all. We’re a company built by PC gamers, and we want to enrich PC gaming for gamers, developers and the industry. I’m a big fan of Steam, 95% of Steam games are played on Windows. At the end of day, we want to be the best at giving gamers their greatest gaming experiences as a platform, publisher or retailer.”
You can read that interview here.
The question isn’t if they plan on supporting the PC, but for how long and how involved will the support be? Will it be limited to a handful of titles, just to show the masses a nice show, only to later pull any other future titles or is this legit? Call me a skeptic, but after hoping for MS to get with the times and embrace the PC since the release of the original Xbox, it’s just hard to be convinced that they have indeed decided to do a 180 and attempt to pull PC gaming into their Xbox fold. Do I want it to happen? Of course I do, I’ve been asking for this for sometime, especially since before there was an Xbox platform, Microsoft was heavily invested in PC gaming with titles such as Midtown Madness, Mech Commander, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Age of Empires, and Microsoft Train Simulator to name a few.
I guess time will tell if Microsoft finally emerges from that endless loop of promises and truly delivers on their promises and so far I’m liking what I am seeing. I just hope that it continues for the very foreseeable future. But can Microsoft support two gaming platforms at the same time?