Microsoft Expands its PC Gaming Strategy

Posted on May 30, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Windows 10 with 27 Comments

Microsoft today announced Xbox Game Pass for PC, the availability of Xbox Game Studios PC games on Steam, and Win32 game support in the Microsoft Store.

“As the creators of Windows, we have a unique responsibility to ensure we’re investing in experiences that benefit players everywhere, while respecting the PC community’s preference for an open, highly customizable platform,” Microsoft head of Xbox Phil Spencer writes. “[But] we’ve not always lived up to our aspiration of keeping gamers at the center of everything we do when it comes to the experience they’ve had on Windows.”

That’s changing. Today, Microsoft announced three PC-based gaming initiatives. They are:

Xbox Game Pass for PC. As Brad wrote previously, Microsoft is bringing its Xbox Game Pass subscription to the PC as “a new experience” that offers a library of over 100 high-quality PC games on Windows 10. Game developers and publishers Bethesda, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive, SEGA, and others are on board, Microsoft says. And the firm is working with over 75 developers and publishers to bring more PC content to the service every month going forward.

Xbox Game Studios titles in other stores. Continuing its commitment to expand its offering beyond the limited Microsoft Store, Microsoft will bring all of its first-party titles—including Halo: Master Chief Collection, Gears 5, and all Age of Empires I, II and III: Definitive Editions—to multiple third-party stores, starting with Steam. “We know millions of PC gamers trust Steam as a great source to buy PC games and we’ve heard the feedback that PC gamers would like choice,” Mr. Spencer says. “We also know that there are other stores on PC, and we are working to enable more choice in which store you can find our Xbox Game Studios titles in the future.”

Win32 games in the Microsoft Store. Hammering another nail into the UWP coffin, Microsoft will allow developers to sell their native Win32 games—i.e. most Windows games—in the Microsoft Store in Windows 10 for the first time. “We recognize that Win32 is the app format that game developers love to use and gamers love to play, so we are excited to share that we will be enabling full support for native Win32 games to the Microsoft Store on Windows,” Spencer writes. “This will unlock more options for developers and gamers alike, allowing for the customization and control they’ve come to expect from the open Windows gaming ecosystem.”

Spencer says that Microsoft will have more to say about these and other PC gaming efforts at its E3 2019 briefing on June 9.

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Comments (27)

27 responses to “Microsoft Expands its PC Gaming Strategy”

  1. justme

    I was just replying to Brad's post. I am genuinely curious - why would I as a PC gamer ever want to subscribe to an XBox game pass for PC? What possible reason would I have to subscribe, especially if the titles I want are available on Steam, Origin, Gog, and elsewhere?

    • irfaanwahid

      In reply to JustMe:

      I believe GamePass for PC functions same way as GamePass for Xbox. The benefit is obvious, I pay $10 a month and I have access to over 100+ games, which otherwise would cost be a bomb if I had to purchase. Granted, I am not interested in all the games, but it still gives me access to pretty high quality games which otherwise I wouldn't buy.

      Also, games like Sea of Thieves released on launched day on GamePass.

      I think GamePass deals (Xbox/PC) are no brainers.

    • Daninbusiness

      In reply to JustMe:

      It’s not unlike the value proposition as signing up for a music streaming service; you can have access to many new games and a catalog of older games for a low monthly cost, cheaper than buying several games at once.

      That said, if one already has a big games library - super easy to do given sales and bundles - or tend to prefer focusing intently on one or two “mains”, then this may not be very compelling.

      Perhaps more interesting if one is coming to gaming for the very first time and doesn’t have any games.

      Or if there’s a Microsoft Studios title you really want to play - the cost of the game pass for several months is probably less than the $60 to buy the game outright when the game is new.

      It doesn’t seem like a terrible deal, but it also probably isn’t for everybody.

      • justme

        In reply to Daninbusiness:

        I dont think it is necessarily a terrible deal. Its just not for me. I'd rather wait for a title I want to go on sale than pay for access to 100 games, of which I might play 3.

        • evox81

          In reply to JustMe:

          Depends on the type of gamer you are as well. I tend to play a game for a month or two and then lose interest. When Anthem came out, I signed up for EA's Access subscription on launch day. I played the game for about a month and half and then cancelled before the 3rd month. I got 2 months of game play for about $26. If I had bought the game, I would have still played it for a couple months, but I would have spent well over double the price. If I ever want to go back and play it again (unlikely), I could buy it on sale or sign up for another month of Access. It really can make financial sense.

          • justme

            In reply to evox81:

            Thats fair enough. Me, if I am interested enough in a game to play it, I am interested enough to buy it. There are generally enough Steam and Gog sales to take care of what I need. I simply don't care for subscriptions. This type of subsctiption, while I might get access to 100 games, the likelihood is that I would realistically only be interested in about 3 of those.

    • GeekWithKids

      In reply to JustMe:

      For the same reason you subscribe on an xbox... 100 games for low monthly rate... roughly $120 years, so I can get 100 games, or for the same cost buy 2 maybe 3 games a year or.

      If the games you want are there game pass is worth the cost.

      • justme

        In reply to GeekWithKids:

        Fair enough. I understand now why some folks would like something like this. Me, as I've said to other posters, I dont care for subscriptions, and would rather purchase a game than rent access to it. Steam sales come around often enough for what I need.

        Thanks for explaining.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to JustMe:

      You could say exactly the same thing about TV shows and movies, yet people subscribe to Netflix instead of buying Blu-rays or digital downloads from iTunes or whatever movie store you use.

      • justme

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Similar, perhaps. The revenue model has certainly worked for console games, movies, tv, etc. But as I said below, I dont care for subscriptions. I would much rather rent a movie than I would subscribe to a service. And I would rather buy my games than rent access to them.

        • irfaanwahid

          In reply to JustMe:

          Does that mean you also don't care much about all the Music streaming services, movies & TV streamings like Amazon Prime and Netflix?

          • justme

            In reply to irfaanwahid:

            Yes, as a matter of fact it does. I do not use a music streaming service at all - my music is either purchased digitally or burned from CDs and vinyl. I dont stream movies or TV from Amazon, Hulu, HBO...none of it. While I do have a Netflix subscription, it is because my wife uses it for a few programs she follows (happy wife happy life, or so the saying goes). If she ever decides she has had enough of it, Netflix will go in an instant.

  2. shmuelie

    I'd like to note that Your Phone is UWP...

  3. noflames

    Win32 applications co-existing in the Windows Store with UWP apps is not the death of UWP, it is simply establishing that the Store should be the common distribution of Applications of all types on Windows. It is also a recognition that most developers aren't going to pay to have those apps ported to UWP. If I were to write an application for Windows today, I would choose UWP because it's cleaner and is compatible with the vision of the "Modern OS". Win32, not so much part of that modern vision.

  4. dontbe evil

    how much you love to write "Hammering another nail into the UWP coffin"

  5. Rob_Wade

    Why is this not simply Xbox Game Pass? This makes no sense to me. If you really want to pull more people in, you don't just have "Game Pass for Xbox" and "Game Pass for PC", just have "Game Pass". It should cover WHATEVER platform you are purchasing games for. I don't game on the Xbox, only PC, but I'd guess most use both. This is a bad idea.

    • John Buck

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      Both catalogs will probably be different because of licensing issues. The same game on PC and Xbox might have a completely different developer or even a different publisher. So they probably can't guarantee the same type of service on both, so perhaps different subs. Or hey, maybe they will make it all be under the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate umbrella.

    • waethorn

      In reply to Rob_Wade:

      That was my thought as well.

      You can play Netflix on anything using the same subscription. Why not this?

      But then this isn't a streaming service either....(see my comment here):

  6. eric_rasmussen

    UWP as an API and platform services is fine. The touch first mentality behind all of the user input controls is silly, given how the vast majority of Windows users interact with their PCs. What's not fine is the expectation that everyone would ditch Win32 and rewrite stuff using the more restrictive and fairly limited Universal API.

    The way you can interact with the action center through UWP is actually really nice. The way information can be presented on the start menu tiles is cool, but I also liked the Windows Phone tiles so maybe I'm crazy here. The correct strategy would have been to do what they're doing now: Allow developers to integrate services into their existing apps piecemeal. Over time, maybe things would have transitioned to full UWP. Forcing the whole enchilada on people all at one was a mistake.

    Regardless of past mistakes though, this gaming news is really exciting. I haven't tried the new Halo games yet, and being able to play those on Steam will be nice. Like you wrote previously, PC makers seem to be building purpose-built PCs including a lot more gaming PCs than we've seen in previous years. Here's hoping that this is some mini-renaissance for PC enthusiasts. :)