Microsoft claims that it wants to take PC gaming seriously with Windows 10, but the limitations of Windows 10-based games has undercut their message. They're trying to address some of that today, with unlocked frame rates and support for AMD's Freesync and NVIDIA's G-SYNC. "A big thank you to those who have given us feedback," the company said in a blog post today. "We read it all — the Window Store reviews, the reviews on gaming-focused websites, and even some of the giant threads on the various forums."
These features were supported in old Windows applications (Win32), but not in the world of Windows 10 (Universal Windows Platform).
What's the difference? Here's how Microsoft explains it:
For the most part, the Direct3D code in a Universal Windows App is largely the same as a Win32 app. There are some changes to the core Windowing system, which mostly effect how full screen windows work. There are no performance differences between a DirectX 12 UWP app and a DirectX 12 Win32 app.
Even if you presume that's true, there's fewer options for players, which is why Microsoft had to issue an operating system update.
That update brings, as I said, support for G-SYNC and Freesync, in addition to unlocked frame rates. The former helps keeps game smooth:
G-SYNC and FreeSync solve the game/monitor synchronisation problem by determining when the game is ready to render a new frame. When the game is ready, the graphics driver tells the monitor to refresh the display. This allows your game to render as fast as the graphics card is capable without any tearing, but requires monitors which support adaptive refresh technology.
Previous Windows 10 games, like Rise of the Tomb Raider, didn't have these features, though they did if you purchased them on Steam.
Since Microsoft is trying to encourage people to support (and buy) games on Windows 10, it's not a good look when you're not at feature parity with the marketplace everyone else has been using for years.
Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will apparently have patches supporting these features "in the very near future". If you don't want to wait for the OS-level update, it's available for download.
There are more changes to come, according to Microsoft, though it didn't outline a roadmap.
In March, Xbox executive Phil Spencer said it would respond to criticisms of Windows 10 applications, including the inability to mod software. The company stopped short of promising full mod support, however.
"The mods where we'll probably have some discussion," said Spencer to PC Gamer, "if I go in and change the executable in a way — if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn't originally intend, [then] the problem is, I don't know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it's capturing my passwords as I'm typing them into Chrome."
For many hardcore PC players, stuff like that may remain a line in the sand. That said, if you want to play Gears of War or Killer Instinct on PC, it doesn't seem like they're coming to Steam any time soon, so it's important that Windows 10 continues to get better.