Microsoft announces major PC gaming changes
Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox and all gaming at Microsoft, announced changes today that change Microsoft's approach to gaming on PC fundamentally.
To better understand these changes, it is necessary to rewind just a few years. Microsoft announced Windows 10 in 2015 and with it the new Microsoft Store. The company planed to make UWP apps the new thing and wanted to distribute these exclusively through the Microsoft Store.
Users could buy apps or games there, and the competition was worried that Microsoft's ownership of Windows gave it an unfair advantage over the competition.
Microsoft launched Xbox Game Pass and Play Anywhere which improved gaming on its own platforms.
Today, Spencer revealed that Microsoft will change its strategy significantly in three core areas. The biggest announcement is the launch of the Xbox Game Pass for PC. Just like Xbox Game Pass for Microsoft's Xbox console, Xbox Game Pass for PC is a subscription-based service that unlocks a library of games to subscribers.
Xbox Game Pass is available for $9.99 per month and it is quite likely that Xbox Game Pass for PC will be offered for the same price.
Microsoft has yet to reveal any of the games that it plans to make available but it revealed that games from the companies own Xbox Game Studios will be made available, games from newly acquired companies like Obsidian and inXile, and games from third-party publishers and studios such as Deep Silver, Paradox, Bethesda, Sega, Devolver Digital, and others.
Microsoft promises that the library remains curated" and that new games will be added to the library every month.
More Xbox Game Studios titles on different PC gaming platforms
Some Microsoft games are available on other PC gaming platforms but many are not. You can buy some games, e.g. Age of Empires III: Complete Edition, Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Alan Wake, or Halo Wars: Definitive Edition on Steam already.
Microsoft plans to make more of its games available on other platforms starting with the release of Gears 5 and Steam.
The company says that it is well aware of the fact that games want to have choice when it comes to buying and playing PC games, and that it is dedicated to deliver that choice.
Steam is mentioned explicitly by Spencer but there is certainly a possibility that Microsoft could offer games in Epic's Store and other stores in the future as well.
Full Win32 Game Support on Windows 10 (Microsoft Store)
The third and final change could certainly improve the attractiveness of the Microsoft Store for gamers and game publishers alike.
Microsoft acknowledges that Win32 is the "app format that game developers love to use and gamers love to play".Â The company made the decision therefore to enable "full support for native win32 games" in the Microsoft Store on Windows.
Microsoft is well aware that the Microsoft Store did not become the go-to place for all things gaming or even applications. Instead of trying to push the UWP format against all odds, Microsoft switched its strategy by opening up: give Win32 games full support on the Microsoft Store, make more of its games available on third-party PC game stores, and introduce a PC gaming subscription service that delivers games by Microsoft and other game publishers.
Now You: what is your take on this change in strategy?
The games in the Microsoft store support offline play on a single “Authorized PC” but, you can not play them offline unless you are logged onto your PC with a Microsoft account.
Using a local account you must be logged into xbox to play them.
They fail to mention this detail anywhere the documention. They also refused to admit it when I talked to support. They wouldn’t even acknowledge the fact that I use a local account as if the option didn’t exsist.
Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Buy a game and you can’t play it without logging into MS. Same thing with Steam, etc., a bunch of BS.
Steam games can be played while not connected to “steam”. If your able to prevent your firewall from automatically adding rules you can go offline with steam and then block all the ascociated proccesses in the firewall and still play many of the games.
I actually once used this to download a game, complete it, then return it weeks later for a full refund as there was no “played time” logged. This was over 3 years ago and once I got my refund I contacted Steam and told them what I did and how I did it so I don’t know if it still works.
Titles with Denuvo will want to make their own connections seperate of steam to unlock the DRM on first startup, after any hardware changes and, I believe about once a month after that.
@Dave: “Steam games can be played while not connected to â€œsteamâ€.”
This was how I played Steam games back before I left Steam. I’m happy to learn that they haven’t changed that.
Goodness, that’s exactly why I’ve moved to open source and DRM-free as much as possible. I just can’t spend the energy to figure out all the fine print.
> but, you can not play them offline unless you are logged onto your PC with a Microsoft account.
Fifty bucks says that when you do this, they start tracking all your activity on the computer and what you do on the Internet,, and linking it with your identity even if you “opt out” of sharing this data with them in the settings!
see also: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/12/13/windows_10_carry_on_slurping/
This is called “surveillance capitalism”, and all big companies are doing it. It’s also why we can’t have single player games that work without an online account anymore.
“you can not play them offline unless you are logged onto your PC with a Microsoft account.”
“Xbox Game Pass is available for $9.99 per month”
AKA the last nails in the Xbox’s coffin.
Why would MS even do something so greedy when the FREE competition is already killing them? They’re doubling down on their own mistakes. MS mobile dead, Edge dead, UWP dead, and other failed plans. It’s like MS management is incapable of admitting their greedy monopolistic business schemes have failed. Arguably even Windows 10 has failed considering how slow adoption was even when MS was giving it away for free. MS is being kept alive by enterprise deals, mandatory preloads, and Win32. It’s going the way of IBM and Oracle, companies with zero relevance to consumers.
out of interest, what do you think the game pass (for pc) is that you label it greedy? and what exactly is the free competition?
aside from epic giving away games for free every 2 weeks just to grab usershare from steam, what company gives away games for free on a regular basis, that is not done as a promotion? this is no different from humble or origin access, where you pay a monthly fee for some unknown game each month.
hate on ms all you like, but seriously… understand what it is that they are doing before sprouting nonsense.
that said, chances are, half the games from this sub would already have been bundled previously in humble and so forth and i have a pathological aversion to logging into ms/win store that it won’t interest me. (local account only!)
in any case, ms isn’t going to be irrelevant until such a time as decent alternative is there. linux gaming? valve might have improved a wrapper to let win32 games work better in linux, but that’s hardly native linux games.
mind you, it’s funny to hear ms talk about modern os that doesn’t need rebooting to update.. hello linux?
Twitch gives away games as well to Twitch Prime customers.
I think Game Pass works for some, especially if you purchase a couple of games each year anyway and can shift that to playing the games by being a Game Pass subscriber. I’m not a fan of subscription-based services, but they surely work for some.
Step in the right direction, but as i no longer have the store on my computer will not be buying anything off there store, Steam on the other hand yes… Epic store never…
I won’t (and don’t) buy anything that comes with DRM…
No GOG, no Linux support, no sale. I expect content that I pay for to still work ten years from now regardless of whether they still feel like running some online service, I expect purchases to respect my privacy, and my freedom to pick and choose which operating system my computer runs without giving up my game library.
Btw for anyone who played Thief back in the day (an old first person stealth game) check out http://www.thedarkmod.com
It’s completely open source and free, doesn’t even require an installation of an existing proprietary game to work, has something like 140 missions to play, most of which are very high quality, runs on Linux Mac and Windows, doesn’t require any online spyware services, has an editor so that anyone can produce missions themself, and even video tutorials to teach you how to do so.
@Tim: “I expect content that I pay for to still work ten years from now regardless of whether they still feel like running some online service”
This is my hard line as well. Any game that isn’t inherently server-dependent (like MMORPGs) that requires connecting to a server somewhere in order to work is a game that I won’t be buying.
Nice suggestion, loved sneaking around in Thief. “I hear you thief!”
Thanks for the tip! Just bookmarked that site and will download the game asap!
I installed The Dark MOd over the weekend and gave it a spin. It’s pretty great! Although I have to admit that I haven’t actually gotten to the game proper yet. I was doing the training level and then looked up and noticed that 3 hours had passed (exceeding my game time budget) without my noticing.
I think it’s a very good sign when the training mission can have that effect on me.
I will be feeling even better each time I ignore the store! It’s quite probably the worst license anywhere. Forever in the DNA of M$.
I know few gamers [“well aware of the fact that games want to have choice”], but I do understand that they most likely want a choice, and one of the choices is to use Linux as the OS platform which Epic Games shows more than a casual interest in doing:
So, does MS already have all of their games running on Linux? Or their Store? Or any plans mentioned? Wondering. Curious. SteamOS and Epic both have some rather popular games–Fortnite? Popular to the point of some Prince over in England wanting the game banned for fear of addiction?
Strategy? I don’t see the article really outlining a “strategy”; it sounds more like a feeble attempt to pacify an audience that is already walking out and going elsewhere.
No thanks….. NO DRM ALL THE WAY!!!
RE: â€œI expect content that I pay for to still work ten years from now regardless of whether they still feel like running some online serviceâ€
Read the fine print. You no longer “purchase content”. You now “purchase a limited licence to use software that may or may not work”
I don’t see how your point in any way counters Tim’s.
GoG (and anything that works w/o DRM) or nothing.