Microsoft has recently announced that they will be trying to slowly transfer the focus of their Xbox franchise from fixed hardware to universal software, which would be accessible from all Windows platform devices. This move comes after they have aggressively announced new titles for Windows 10 PCs, which would’ve been Xbox One exclusives. Among those titles are Killer Instinct, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Forza Motorsport 6 (although a demo version called Apex), and Quantum Break.
The first titles released on the Windows Store, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, have only alienated the PC player base from Microsoft’s store instead of bringing new players in. Why? Because the Windows Store, at the moment, is not a proper environment for triple A titles. As a result, both big releases suffer from a lack of features which PC gamers were expecting by default, such as SLI or Crossfire for owners of multiple video cards, or an exclusive fullscreen mode (games run on fullscreen windowed mode).
This fiasco has gotten Microsoft quite a bad reputation, with even Epic’s Tim Sweeney criticizing it. However, is the Microsoft Store such a bad initiative as the majority of the Internet claims? I don’t necessarily believe it. Let’s go over the pros and cons of the Windows Store.
While everyone is sharpening their virtual pitchforks over the lacking Microsoft Store features, they seem to miss the point: sure, the Microsoft Store is, at the moment, in a deplorable state, but it’s the upcoming content that matters. For over a decade, some of the franchises recently announced to come to Windows 10 PCs have been exclusive to the Xbox series of consoles. Now, after all that time, PC gamers will finally get to play Forza or Killer Instinct without having to shell out 300 dollars on an Xbox console which will most likely be a paperweight after they get bored of it. Over the years, Microsoft has been making false promises of attempting to bring a better gaming experience to Windows, but so far, Phil Spencer (current CEO of Microsoft’s Xbox division) has been the only one actively engaged and interested in this.
What is more, the team responsible for the Windows Store is working on solving the problems and adding more features to the store, as should be expected. Most of the people seem to forget how horrid Steam was when it first launched, and that’s why other new game clients, such as uPlay (which has actually come a long way in the last year) are considered terrible. Sure, Steam is the leader at the moment, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t miss features either: people are just trying to forget the lack of a Steam support team because it is fashionable to worship GabeN.
At the same time, let’s face it: the Store cannot possibly compete with Steam, or even uPlay under the condition it is currently in. Releasing triple-A games on which some of the best developer teams have worked on in such an environment is embarrassing, especially given the upcoming technology: the rest of the gaming market is looking towards VR while one of the biggest tech companies ever is struggling to get fullscreen on their games.
Another glaring con of the Windows Store is the fact that although it feels that they’re committing to PC gaming, they’re still hesitating to give PC gamers what they really want: Halo. Halo is one of the biggest FPS franchises, and PC is still missing most of the series. Given that the Master Chief Collection has tanked on the Xbox One due to a lot of problems, the best way for Microsoft to show their dedication to PC would be to re-release it on Windows 10 and let PC players finally “finish the fight”. Instead, they’re giving us teases (Forza 6: Apex) and Halo spin-offs (Halo Wars 2).
Microsoft was also chewed on by Epic’s Tim Sweeney due to their attempt at creating a monopoly: the Windows 10 exclusive games can only be bought and played on the Windows Store, this is a valid concern.
All in all, the Windows Store is a great initiative by Microsoft, but it lacks effort and thought: you can’t really have a thriving PC market when you’re selling triple-A games among mobile titles.
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