The embargo has finally been lifted on the announcements made at Microsoft’s Xbox One and Windows 10 Gaming event, and they are huge. The event, which took place behind closed doors on February 25, saw Phil Spencer committing to making Xbox One games forward-compatible, and to bringing a better Microsoft gaming experience to Windows 10. Although the latter commitment was made year after year by previous Xbox CEOs, Phil Spencer may be the only one to actually mean it. Let’s look over the announcements made:
The biggest news here are related to Microsoft’s operating system, Windows 10. Apparently, Microsoft wants to push their Windows Store aggressively as a competitor to Valve’s successful Steam, which currently dominates the market. Therefore, they have announced that one of the most iconic Xbox franchises, which was exclusive to their consoles until now, Forza Motorsport, will be coming to Windows 10 PCs. The series will debut on PC with a free, stripped down version of the newest Forza game, which will be called Forza Motorsport 6: Apex.
This version will feature “stunning 4K visuals”, and will be a way for PC gamers to benchmark the game for the full release of Forza Motorsport 6 later this year.
As soon as the embargo was lifted, another first-party triple-A game was launched on Windows 10 – the long-awaited Gears of War: Ultimate Edition. Priced at only 30 dollars, the Ultimate Edition is a complete remaster of the first Gears of War title, with new graphics and improved features, such as new multiplayer maps and modes. This isn’t the first time the series finds its way onto PC, though, as the first Gears of War title already had a Games for Windows Live port with added content.
The third season of the brilliant fighting game, Killer Instinct, also got a launch date – March 29. The new season will not only bring new characters, such as the Halo series’ Arbiter, but will also bring Killer Instinct to PC. First announced at AMD’s PC Gaming Show last year, it definitely took some time to get it on Windows 10, but hopefully it will have been worth the wait.
Of course that Xbox One also got its fair share of attention at the event. Apparently, Phil Spencer promised that all Xbox One games released from now on will be forward-compatible with future Xbox consoles. This promise comes after the huge success of the backwards compatibility system for the Xbox One, which allows Xbox One owners to play certain Xbox 360 titles.
Ori and the Blind Forest will get a Definitive Edition on March 11, which will be coming to both the Xbox One and Windows 10 on March 11, and will feature new story content, more refined gameplay and new features which will make the map easier to navigate, such as quick travel between areas. Quantum Break was also shown on-stage, the game launching on April 5 on both Xbox One and Windows 10. The only other major game reveal was the Porsche expansion pack for Forza Motorsport 6, which is available right now.
All in all, as can be seen, Phil Spencer tried to focus on the future of Xbox as a brand, not as a console. According to reputable sources, the head of the Xbox brand stated that in the future, all Xbox developers will need to develop for the “Universal Windows Platform”, which will allow them to focus on the software, all while being able to continuously improve the hardware without ruining backwards or forwards compatibility. This must be why Microsoft doubled down on PC gaming lately: the PC is the next Xbox console, in Phil Spencer’s vision.
For more game announcements from Microsoft, you should wait for Microsoft’s Game Developers Conference sessions, which will tackle both the future of Windows 10 and the future of Xbox One as gaming platforms.