Recently, Microsoft announced it’s plans to unify its desktop, mobile, and Xbox platforms through what it is calling the Universal Windows Platform, referred to as UWP in this article for the purpose of brevity. As with any decision Microsoft makes regarding gaming, this was met with quite a lot of backlash. That’s not to say it’s all bad, of course. If handled correctly, the UWP could be a good thing. But given Microsofts track record, can we expect that?
Universal Windows Platform
To be fair, UWP has some things going for it. For one, future Xbox exclusives could be coming to the PC in an attempt to unify the platforms. Combine this with announced plans to have future Xbox consoles be upgradeable, and it seems that Microsoft is really trying to bridge the gap between PC and console. In a perfect world, unifying Xbox and Windows 10 would be great. After all, this would mean that console exclusives could easily be brought to the PC. While this may already be the case with games like Quantum Break, it’s not all sunshine and daisies. This isn’t a perfect world, and there appears to be some glaring problems.
For one, UWP is closed platform. What this means is, if you’re a developer who wishes to develop on UWP, you need to be licensed by Microsoft itself to distribute via UWP. Which in itself has potential to be okay, if restrictions placed by Microsoft aren’t that tough, but what it leads to is a PC version of a game like recent release Rise of the Tomb Raider devoid of many things that it would otherwise have on Steam: SLI/Crossfire support, no v-sync, restricted game files (which means no modding), and the inability to launch the game through Steam to take advantage of Steam’s Big Picture Mode. Furthermore, it was announced that in order to play upcoming release Quantum Break on PC, you need to have your OS upgraded to Windows 10, and if you have Windows 7 or 8 you’re as they say, sh*t out of luck. Another thing to consider: Remember Games for Windows Live, Microsoft’s last, failed attempt to get into PC gaming? If you haven’t, it should tell you all you need to know about how successful it was. My next point however, is so obviously and unforgivably terrible that I feel the need to devote an entire section to it.
Why Windows Store Sucks
Before I get into this, I’m going to show you a screenshot of what the Windows Store’s game section looks like as of about a week ago:
Okay, you have a Gears of War remake, cool. And Telltale’s Minecraft: Story Mode, not my cup of tea but it’s respectable. And Game Dev Tycoon Lite… well, the full version is fun but okay, maybe the Lite version is too. But unless you’re a big fan of Microsoft Jigsaw, there is NOTHING. You can’t tell me that Microsoft honestly expects to compete with Steam if their store looks like that. For gods sake, there’s a Minions game in there. Gamers expect there to be, well, games in their games store. Not the kind of stuff you would find on the Free section of the iPhone store. Part of the reason Steam excels so much is because it’s a platform that developers want to distribute on, and the restrictions put on developers by UWP’s closed platform means that nobody is going to use it.
So, there’s my opinion. If you own an Xbox One, this really doesn’t affect you all that much. But it hurts PC gamers by restricting how we play the games we buy, and it hurts developers by forcing them to adhere to restrictive rules in order to release their games on the UWP. Think I’m wrong? Tell me why in the comments section below.