The Pros And Cons Of Microsoft's Big Xbox-PC Gamble

The Pros And Cons Of Microsoft's Big Xbox-PC Gamble

Microsoft's press conference today hasn't just blurred the lines between consoles and PCs, it's fundamentally changing what it means to be a "platform." Some of it sounds great, some of it...well, we'll have to see.

A key undercurrent of today's event was the company's new Play Anywhere initiative. If you buy Gear of War 4 on Xbox One, you can also play it on Windows 10. If you buy Dead Rising 4 on Windows 10, you can also play it on Xbox One.

Barring a huge shakeup, it seems the Xbox One will continue to lag beyond the PlayStation 4 in sales. Though Xbox One has hardly been a flop — that's the Wii U — it's a vastly different landscape than last round, where Microsoft was leading the charge. (Yes, Sony caught up in sales as the years went along, but Xbox defined the generation.) In reaction, Microsoft seems to be admitting it no longer cares where you play your games, so long as you're within Microsoft's ecosystem. With Xbox lagging, Microsoft's been forced to do something players have wanted for years: give a shit about the PC. This is Microsoft giving a shit.

There's a key caveat, however: Windows 10 is not Steam. So far, Windows 10 exclusives have not showed up on Valve's popular storefront. We've asked Microsoft if it's possible for that to change, but we haven't heard back yet.

Project Scorpio is a huge extension of this idea. Microsoft said games will run on all four platforms: Xbox One, Xbox One S, Project Scorpio, and Windows 10. They showed Minecraft players joining in on iPads, PCs, and VR at the same time. Linking games, at least ones published by Microsoft, is their view of the future. It's why they opened up Xbox Live and want to connect it with PSN, too.

On Geoff Keighley's YouTube show, Bethesda Game Studios executive producer Todd Howard said he'd actively encouraged both Microsoft and Sony to produce new hardware more regularly. That's how PCs work — they're rolling upgrades. We're moving towards a universe where consoles are merely tightly packaged PCs, a shift that comes with ups and downs. When do you upgrade? Do you buy the best upgrade? Should you wait another year? These questions haven't been part of buying a console before, but it's clear we're moving toward that future.

The relationship between consoles and PCs has always been a weird one; it's why the term "console exclusive" always induced a round of eye-rolls. It's an exclusive, yes, but that exclusivity is only between PlayStation and Xbox? In years past, PC versions would come out months (or years) later, and it was rare for the ports to truly take advantage of the PC. They were usually garbage.

That's changed dramatically. Now, even Japanese companies like Square Enix, who routinely ignored the PC, are making the platform a priority. Games like Dark Souls 3 launched simultaneously on console at PC. It's not just Microsoft realising it makes more sense to embrace everyone. The industry is shifting.

Gaming is about to become more complicated. I think it will bring a lot of benefits that will seem scary at first. But for better or worse, change is coming.


    Wii U sure seemed to last longer than the XBone though didn't it?

      Xbone isn't going away though? Its not being replaced. The wiiU is being replaced. Scoepio is a more expensive console for playing the same games in 4k while the same games will also work on xbone. It's not really the same as comparing it to a completely new generation of hardware like NC will be.

      A whole year without competition would make it seem that way, yes.

        The messaging from MS is what I'm going off of - I can either buy Xbone straight away. Or wait for the Slim. Or wait for Scorpio. Or go the PC route. One of these devices is about to get the cold shoulder. I think I can guess which....

    This could be a game changer. Though will you need an Xbox to take advantage of it?

      Dont think so - Just windows 10 with the xbox app

        Cool. If I ever get a console, this probably will be the deciding factor.

        Last edited 14/06/16 11:07 am

          Why would you get an Xbox One when all their games are now coming out on PC. It seems that if you have a decent PC, the PS4 is now the only console you need if you want their exclusives.

            Perhaps, only if you are happy to only be able to play those Microsoft Exclusives solely on a PC and forgo playing them on a console. Personally this is great for me, as I do switch between gaming on my PC and Xbox depending on the game and where my friends play. I have even bought the same game on Xbox and PC in the past in order to play on both.

            The point here, for Microsoft, is to grow the community and usage of their services and stores. I think they are quite happy to cannibalise some hardware sales (which make very little profit, if any) if they can sell more software overall (which does make money).

            Plus more choice and less exclusives is a win for gamers. Saving yourself on buying an Xbox One but still getting to play all the same games, seems win win for everyone.

              I thought the console hardware actually sold for a loss at times, basically taking the hit once because they'd recoup it on the games. Seems odd that they'd effectively lose some of the profit then if you can buy a game once and then play it on either PC or Xbox. ie: they're cannibalising both hardware and software sales. Guess they're hoping for more customer loyalty and more game sales in general to make up for it.

              I love the idea that gaming will be more cross platform. It's always bugged me that you couldn't multiplay with friends because you had it on PC and they had it on console. Seemed like poor design to me, just make the server talk to either client and away you go. Only restriction should be whether you have the same maps.

    I don't see myself ever getting an Xbone so if it means I can play Sea of Thieves/ReCore/Scalebound then that works for me.

    Seems weirdly ironic, since previously the 360 was my way of accessing PC games that I would've otherwise been unable to play :P

    As ever it will be games that sells a system. Millions of people have already invested in this generation. Arguably we're only just now seeing games that're really taking advantage of the current hardware, people won't be ready to buy into something new what will be looked at being roughly halfway through the current generation's lifecycle. There will be early adopters of course who will buy the latest and greatest, but they're not the people Microsoft need to get on board to close the gap to Sony. It won't be until there's Scorpio exclusives that the majority of people will consider 'upgrading' I don't think, but frankly when that happens it'll be a slap in the face to gamers who have already bought a Xbone. The same thing I'll say about the Playstation 4.5 (or whatever it's called) if PS4.5 exclusive games come out.

    Microsoft need to change the consumer mindset of games to how people view mobile phones, something that 'needs' to be upgraded every couple of years. I can't see that happening though. When you create consoles that are pretty similar to each other it will create confusion and sales won't go anywhere. Just ask Nintendo with the Wii U

    Is this for Microsoft to charge an "Xbox Gold Subscription" for PC Gamers to access things like multiplayer as with XBox themselves?

    (Or should I shut up and not give them ideas? )

      Didn't even think of that. That would be stupid of them, PC players don't take kindly to that shit.

        that's because we (pc players) currently have a choice of what to play and with who. If you really want a game in a closed eco-system for multiplayer etc, you're going to pay a subscription (ie, WoW, EVE online)

      It wouldn't surprise me. MS seem to be very keen on the subscription idea for other things (office for example) it's not a big leap :(

        I'll cry with you when my stupid premonition comes to fruition

    Interesting. I can see myself buying xbone games on sale even though I don't have the console. Just because Windows store prices are high and they don't seem to have sales.

    If they keep doing it with redeemable codes then they're giving away money, though. Plenty of people were happy to play Quantum Break on console and sell their PC key.

    Yeah, think its a great feature personally, just wish I had the PC to play some of those games lol Still, is definitely promising and I really like the idea

    Analytics I heard of said the recent XBox Wundows 10 exclusive Tomb Raider had 98% of its on Steam! Force integration with the windows store the Universal App issues and the limitations proposed to developers to work with unwieldy code and even more unwieldy executives hurt recent titles immensly. Limiting the market choice to push an agenda of Windows 10 exclusive coding and sales is inept.

    There’s a key caveat, however: Windows 10 is not Steam. So far, Windows 10 exclusives have not showed up on Valve’s popular storefront. We’ve asked Microsoft if it’s possible for that to change, but we haven’t heard back yet.

    That there is not an easy decision. Eschewing Steam preserves their brand and theoretically supports Microsoft's bottom line by forcing people into Windows, but doing so might also lose them thousands of potential customers unwilling to make the switch or have a second gaming platform in their PCs. My opinion is that right now they don't have a brand strong enough to inspire the confidence to eschew Steam, but if they give it up, they also give up their hopes of ever strengthening it, so I expect they will go that way. All or nothing.

    Hopefully this could get them to look into regularly updating the digital pricing for games ... a game that came out 3ish years ago should not cost the same as a game released last week

    I just want to know if Rare Replay will come to Windows 10.

    Why were they showing players playing Minecraft on an Ipad? surely it would of been on a Surface.

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