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Microsoft Is Learning To Ship PC Games Again; Will Release Some Titles on Steam, Too

Alessio Palumbo
Posted Jun 17, 2016
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This year, everything changed in regards to Microsoft’s support of PC games. Head of Xbox Phil Spencer had promised to do better after many years of disappointments on this front and he definitely delivered the goods.

In the span of six months, all of Microsoft’s in-house titles were announced for Windows 10 PC: ReCore, Forza, Killer Instinct, Quantum Break, Gears of War 4, Scalebound, Crackdown 3 and State of Decay 2. That’s not even counting Halo Wars 2 and Sea of Thieves, which were announced last year.

That said, some of the first games released on Windows 10 weren’t exactly well received due to major performance issues. Speaking to PC Gamer, Spencer apologized for Quantum Break’s troubled launch and said that Microsoft is just learning to ship PC games again.

I know our Quantum [Break] launch wasn’t the best launch we had. I thought the Apex launch, the Forza launch went well on PC. We’re gonna learn by keep doing.

Learning to ship PC games again, honestly. I started when we were basically a PC developer. I go back to like Deadly Tide, Fury Cubed, all that, you know, Midtown [Madness], Age [of Empires] games. When we shipped the original Xbox, for better or for worse, frankly, we focused almost the entire organization on doing console games, and that’s 15 years ago, and the team’s built a lot of muscle of what it takes to build and ship console games. And we started a couple years ago—I’ve been in this job two years—so we started a couple years ago, I wanted to get back to PC gaming. I actually see our best customers—you’ve heard this from me a thousand times—are playing on console and PC. I’m not trying to push everybody to go play on both console and PC. There’s clearly PC gamers that don’t want to have anything to do with Xbox, and Xbox people who just want to play on Xbox and don’t play on PC.

But a couple years ago we really said, ‘What do we need as Microsoft to think about or strength on console and our role with Windows to be a good platform provider for gamers on both?’ It started with DirectX 12, made sure that’s available on both, Xbox Live, spreading our ID program—our independent developer program—to both Xbox and Windows, things like cross-play, allowing people to play across networks. Rocket League is taking advantage of that, it’s cool. I think we showed Forza on stage playable from PC to console. We showed Minecraft playable iOS, Android Gear [VR], PC, everybody playing together. We showed Gears, I think in the theater here, co-op PC. And then it’s, ‘let’s go build games,’ but building games today takes a while, so when I say something a couple years ago people are like ‘wait and see, wait and see,’ and now actually it’s great to see the games lineups actually starting to match what we’ve been saying for a while.

We’re still going to learn. You talk about Gears, Quantum was another one that wasn’t our best PC launch—

Yeah, everybody involved, I think, Remedy said the same thing, we’ve said the same thing, I wanted to do a better job with the initial launch of Quantum Break on PC. It wasn’t a motivation thing. I wouldn’t stand up and talk about things like Xbox Play Anywhere or show a full lineup that’s coming to Windows if I was going to try to short on our support there, and not be all in. We will make mistakes going forward as well, it’s part of being, I think, human. But I’ll say our motivation is to do a great job on PC, and a great job on console. As I said, I know a lot of our best customers play games in both places, and I want to be there and support them in both.

Of course, most of these titles will be exclusive to the Windows Store for obvious reasons. That said, those who don’t have the slightest inclination to use Microsoft’s store may rejoice in knowing that some of these PC games may end up on Steam, too. Spencer confirmed as much during Giant Bomb’s E3 live stream:

I look at Steam today, it’s on an incredible growth trajectory. It’s a massive force in gaming; a positive force. I think it will be bigger a year from now than it is today. And five years later it will still be bigger again. I look at Valve as an important [independent software vendor] for us on Windows. They are a critical part of gaming’s success on Windows. I don’t think Valve’s hurt by not having our first-party games in their store right now. They’re doing incredibly well. We will ship games on Steam again.

It’ll be interesting to see which PC games Microsoft chooses to release on Steam. Of course, we’ll keep you up to date with any such news.

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