Microsoft: We Are Doubling Down On PC Games

Exactly a year after rolling out Windows 7 with much fanfare, Microsoft seems to be finally remembering the gamers who help make their platform so popular.

The October 2009 launch of Windows 7 happened with almost no reference to gaming or the people who use the system so prevalently to game.

It was a massive shift in tone from 2006, when then Microsoft Vice President Peter Moore apologised for what he called a dereliction of duty to the company's no. 1 gaming platform: the PC.

While Vista's 2006 launch was touted as a renaissance for Windows gaming, three years later Microsoft seemed to have once more forgotten about their other gaming platform.

Last week, though, the company unveiled their plans for a bigger, better online store for selling computer games digitally. Peter Orullian, group product manager for Windows PC and Mobile, told Kotaku that the idea is to "bring some of the rigour thought and success we've had on console to bare in the PC space".

"PC games," he said, "is a place where we are doubling down."

For now "doubling down" on PC gaming means relaunching their web-based Games for Windows Marketplace next month with about 100 titles for sale.

While it's nice to see Microsoft paying attention again to the PC as a gaming platform, I asked Orullian why Microsoft is spending time fixing a program that already has several very successful third-party solutions. Why reinvent the wheel, I asked, mentioning Valve's tremendously popular Steam service which currently has more than 1200 games for sale.

"We have a different vision that runs parallel to what (Steam) is doing," Orullian said.

This is just the start of Microsoft's latest PC gaming push, he said. As the company builds up their store, they will also be tapping into the massive community they've built with the Xbox 360.

Could that mean that gamers will see a second attempt at cross-platform gaming between the PC and the Xbox 360?

"We have a healthy list of feature's we're going to start bringing out once the store launches," Orullian said.

One obvious place where Microsoft's new Games For Windows store may have the upper hand on Steam is how it handles digital rights management.

Where Steam uses a single proprietary system, Games for Windows will have a much more flexible approach.

The Marketplace will work with nearly all forms of digital rights management, Microsoft told Kotaku, allowing publishers to submit a pre-protected or unprotected build of their game with their choice of DRM and Microsoft will distribute the builds on the Marketplace along with the appropriate activation keys.

While Microsoft's renewed interest in Windows gaming is surely tied to the chance to create a foothold in the digital game sales space, this year's tremendous line-up of computer games also probably helped.

Over the past 10 months, we've seen the release of a new StarCraft, a new Civilization, a new Total War and computer versions of massive hits like Mass Effect 2, BioShock 2 and Dragon Age: Origins.

With only two months of the year left, we can also look forward to the coming of the Cataclysm expansion to massively popular, massively multiplayer game World of Warcraft.

Despite the popularity of PlayStation 3s, Xbox 360s, Wiis and iPhones, computer gaming isn't just still around, it's making a resurgence.

Well Played is an internationally syndicated weekly news and opinion column about the big stories of the week in the gaming industry and its bigger impact on things to come. Feel free to join in the discussion.


Comments

    If MS want to beat steam they should make all the games on Windows playable on Xbox and vice-versa. If you buy a Game on 1 system it will work on either, transferring your saved games as well when appropriate.

      Although that would be awesome it would create a lot of issues. Computer hacking and related issues will have a huge negative effect unless they are handled in a fashion simular to blizzards star craft achievements, which will not be possible as Microsoft will most likely try to allow every game possible to have achievements that are added to your profile.

        It's not quite as easy as you seem to think it is. :( It would be nice though, in an ideal world.

    “We have a different vision that runs parallel to what (Steam) is doing,” Orullian said.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QCiFNGYnmg 41 secs.

    So, when are they going to make Halo 3, ODST, Wars and Reach for PC?
    Also, are they going to have Avatars like xbox360 does?
    And is it going to link in to Windows Phone 7 Xbox Live service?
    BTW I don't have an Xbox 360, which is why I want the recent Halo games made for PC.

    First thing they should do is force every game on GFW support achievements, to lure in people who are "well, I'd prefer to play it on PC, but if I play it on xbox I get achievements, so..!".

    Interesting, I am torn between 2 things that are going to happen

    1) There will be a computer version of Xbox live that functions like steam with achievements, player profiles, ECT.

    2) Although this is good for creating community that Xbox live if famous for, it will create a wall of sorts. Between trying to use both steam and Microsoft’s community program for players to communicate amongst friends

    & I am sure a lot of people are tempted to say they are ripping of what steam has done but they have had already had done it uniquely with the Xbox and have had the foundation there for a while with windows live.

      Part of the problem they face is that nobody on PC is going to pay for online gaming (not counting MMO subscriptions). Which means GFW needs to be free if it's going to have a chance. But if they just go and give GFW all the features of XBL but for free, the XBox owners will (justifiably) demand to know why they should pay for the same service when the PC guys aren't.

    Why do people always bring in the cross-platform gaming idea whenever microsoft talks about this?

    It. Doesn't. Work.

    It's been proved time and time again that PC gamers just have too huge of an advantage over console gamers, because of the accuracy of mouse and Keyboard. This is the reason why we will never see cross-platform gaming.

    Sure the whole keyboard mouse vs controller thing would upset the balance for FPS's but people are forgetting there are other genres of games out there. Racing games are a prime example. Also, FPS's would still work for coop play seeing as you're not shooting each other.

    But anyway, I couldn't give a stuff about cross platform gaming or a better store - I want more of these console exclusive games on the PC and better ports of games that do decide to venture over to the PC. Optimised PC ports are hard to find nowadays, even games like Mass Effect 2 had a few nit picky issues.

    Of course 30% of the "tremendous line-up of computer games" listed won't ever appear on GFWL (being Blizzard games).

    Halo3 or Halo Reach on PC please Microsoft? I am SICK of using the retarded 360 controller to aim in Reach. I am SICK of consoles and their rude/immature fanbase. PC Revolution NOW!

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