Gamers have been saying for a while that once Microsoft invokes the ability for gamers to play Xbox games on the PC, that the writing would be on the wall for the Xbox One. Well, during the Microsoft E3 2016 conference, Microsft rolled out a new feature called “Xbox Play Anywhere“. I touched on this newly announced feature and what this means for both Xbox and Windows 10 gaming here, however, I feel that some people are misinterpreting what Microsoft has set out to do with Xbox Play Anywhere.
In fact, many games are already calling this the end of the Xbox One, despite the fact that Xbox One S is being released in a few months and with Project Scorpio coming sometime later in 2017. I definitely don’t think this is the end of the Xbox One hardware and while I feel that the Xbox Play Anywhere is a fantastic idea, and I can see what Microsoft is trying to accomplish and where it fits in. However, I wondered why this hasn’t been seen for what is so I wanted to break this down into 3 points and see if I can shed some light on Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere strategy.
What exactly is Xbox Play Anywhere?
Xbox Play Anywhere is a new initiative launched by Microsoft that looks to close the gap between the Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming. It offers gamers the ability to purchase a copy of a supported game for either the Xbox One or Windows 10 and be able to play the game on BOTH platforms. In addition, it will let gamers play across both platforms to join in some co-op gaming thanks to cross-play. Achievements and progression will also be carried over between the two. All this for no additional cost.
Cross-buy, Cross-platform, Cross-play, all your stuff goes with you. Following so far?
Who exactly is Xbox Play Anywhere for?
That’s the question of the week and the answers are three-fold, at least to me. Let’s take a look at what it is and try to make this easier to understand.
- Do you only game on the Xbox One hardware? If you do, then Xbox Play Anywhere isn’t really going to make a huge difference to you. In fact, you may just as well ignore it because it isn’t aimed at you.
- Do you have a gaming PC? If so, do you have Windows 10? Xbox Play Anywhere is for those who have a PC that meets the system requirements, which includes running a copy of Windows 10. Now, if you’re still running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 and either haven’t upgraded or simply don’t plan on doing so, well then this also removes Xbox Play Anywhere since it requires Windows 10.
- Do you have a Gaming PC running Windows 10 and/or an Xbox One? Then this is who Microsoft is targeting with this new ability. The ability to play supported “Xbox Play Anywhere” games on your Xbox and then pick up where you left off on your gaming PC or vice versa. Is it the best of all offerings? Well, I seem to think it is.
It may not seem like this would be an ability many people would use, but I can tell you from a where I’m standing that I can see it taking off. I already own an Xbox One, but more importantly, I also own 3 gaming PCs, 2 of which I share with my family (My kids love PC gaming). This basically means that I can buy a copy of Gears of War 4, Forza Horizon 3, Scalebound or even Halo Wars 2 and I’ll get a copy of the game that’s playable on both the Xbox One and Windows 10 PC.
This means I can jump between the Xbox One or Windows 10 PC at any time. So if my family runs me out of my man cave, I can just go to my office and pick up where I left off. I want to play any of the mentioned games in glorious 60fps and in a higher resolution than what the Xbox One can provide, then I can get on my gaming PC that’s connected to a 4K TV and then enjoy my gaming session there. Or I could even catch a game at work during my lunch period. Seriously, if this really takes off, the applications are pretty tempting for anyone to not take advantage of it.
Pretty exciting stuff.
Now I know it may seem like I’m coming off as an Xbox or even a Microsoft fanboy, I know those comments are coming. The fact is that I have multiple gaming platforms, I like gaming. I actually own two PlayStation 4’s, merely because my original PS4 HDMI port died which I eventually got it fixed. During that time, however, I couldn’t do game reviews and previews without a PlayStation 4 so I picked up another. The picture I’m trying to paint is that I play all games on all systems, so I could care less about brand loyalty. I feel that Microsoft however as a brilliant idea and they’ve laid the roadmap that if they play their cards correctly, could ultimately close the gap between the Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming. That all said, they still have ways to go to in that regards and when I say this, I’m referring to how games purchased or downloaded via Windows 10 store are handled and the many issues regarding those. The recent Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Quantum Break releases are prime examples of this. Since Xbox Play Anywhere only works with Windows 10 store, they also have to convince developers that this is a worthwhile gambit and that the Windows 1o store is just as important, as say Steam is for the PC and PC gaming.
That all said, they still have ways to go to in that regards and when I say this, I’m referring to how games purchased or downloaded via Windows 10 store are handled and the many issues regarding those. Since Xbox Play Anywhere only works with Windows 10 store, they also have to convince developers that this is a worthwhile gambit and that the Windows 1o store is just as important, as say Steam is for the PC and PC gaming. That last part is going to take a lot of work, as currently, the Windows 10 store doesn’t really have anything to entice game developers or offer them anything over what Steam currently provides.
In my opinion, Microsoft has taken a pretty large step with Xbox Play Anywhere. I hope they can really maintain that stride without causing a rift within their current Xbox audience while gaining more support behind this new initiative. Playing games should be just that, something I feel Microsoft understands now, thanks to the efforts of Phil Spencer, unlike the Microsoft of 2 years ago. That all said I’m sure there will be people that will say “Thanks for putting your games on PC, now I don’t have to buy an Xbox One anymore“. But you see, that’s the magic about it all, the end goal for Microsoft. If you still play their games, downloading their software, then they’ve ultimately succeeded in pulling you in.
The big question is will this be successful in 6 months to a year from now?
Only time will tell.