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Epic Games co-founder says the industry must 'fight Microsoft' on UWP

Gears of War Ultimate Edition
Gears of War Ultimate Edition

On the one hand, Microsoft with its UWP for Windows 10 is pushing for something that could be revolutionary. On the other, you have Epic Games co-founder, Tim Sweeney, declaring in a piece for The Guardian that the gaming industry must fight against Microsoft as it "wants to monopolize games development on PC."

Strong words. Sweeney is a highly respected figure in the games industry, with Epic being behind Microsoft's exclusive Gears of War franchise among many others.But what exactly is he so worked up over? He claims that Microsoft is trying to force game developers into the 'walled garden' of the Windows Store, which also means sacrificing some of their revenue in the process.

"The specific problem here is that Microsoft's shiny new "Universal Windows Platform" is locked down, and by default it's impossible to download UWP apps from the websites of publishers and developers, to install them, update them, and conduct commerce in them outside of the Windows Store."

He's saying that by launching new features exclusive to UWP, which developers may actually be interested by, locking them into using the Windows Store is a bad thing. Right now the Windows Store doesn't seem to be able to handle these massive, AAA titles as it is, though you'd hope that'll get fixed before long.

To be clear, his objection isn't to UWP as a thing nor to Microsoft having a store. He feels that as with win32, UWP should be more open and game developers should be free to use it while also selling games directly, or through other stores like Steam.

He even goes so far as to outline what he thinks should be done with the platform. In short:

  • That any PC Windows user can download and install a UWP application from the web, just as we can do now with win32 applications. No new hassle, no insidious warnings about venturing outside of Microsoft's walled garden, and no change to Windows' default settings required.
  • That any company can operate a store for PC Windows games and apps in UWP format – as Valve, Good Old Games, Epic Games, EA, and Ubi Soft do today with the win32 format, and that Windows will not impede or obstruct these apps stores, relegating them to second-class citizenship.
  • That users, developers, and publishers will always be free to engage in direct commerce with each other, without Microsoft forcing everyone into its formative in-app commerce monopoly and taking a 30% cut.

He closes out by praising folks like Phil Spencer for listening to the concerns of the developer, but it's a pretty bold piece that Sweeney admits he hoped he'd never have to write. It does also provoke a few serious thoughts, especially if Microsoft does plan to turn the Windows Store into an attractive place for game developers to reside. It's a debate that's sure to rage, so weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments below.

Source: The Guardian

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

302 Comments
  • Why do these game developers dont think about all this when they make games for iOS in the Apple's walled garden. They release it only when making it for Windows. This is bad.
  • *realize
  • Maybe its because its the only way and there's a market???
  • Yep. It's no different than the "walled garden" of the iOS App Store, Google Play Store or any other. They're just trying to unify purchases within their ecosystem in a secure and organized manner just like everyone else is.
  • It is the same as the walled iOS garden, but it's not the same as Google Play.  Alternative stores have long existed on Android.
  • If you're aware of SlideME, the Amazon AppStore, Gameloft WAPStore, etc... you already know they all suffer from the same flaws that make them not worth mentioning as staples of the Android experience. If people want up-to-date apps or simply desire not to be cut off from intergral offerings, they're going through the Google Play Store, which is every bit a walled garden as the Windows Store. If we're shooting far left field to say it's open through Unknown Sources, the same applies to Windows Phone when you consider freely available dev tools.  
  • You're right. This Epic Games co-founder is acting like a hypocrite, specifically targeting  Microsofof for such criticism when he's about 10 years late to the party. Where is his criticism of Steam, the iOS App Store, the Google Play Store, etc. Those are all walled-off gardens and his proclamation that Microsoft should spend resources making all of these great features available  and then not be able to recuperate a portion of those costs via app sales revenue is absurd. Look at this quote: "my criticism is limited to Microsoft structuring its operating system to advantage its own store while unfairly disadvantaging competing app stores". He should be praising Microsoft for allowing other stores and distribution methods on their OS, unlike Apple or Google.
  • But to install an alternate store in that ADroid OS you need to change the defaut settings allowing installs from untusted sources (I consider that AD company untrusted as well but thats another story).  These whinners need to get on board with the microsoft store and suck it up.
  • Exactly: Windows is, by far, the most open operating system out there. Sweeney's rant is weirdly outdated and misdirected.
  • I know you like to defend anything UWP, but you are wrong. Win32 is open, UWP is not. That's his entire point. What do you fanboys not understand?
  • UWP is not completely revealed. Also Win32 is still available and not going anywhere anytime soon.
  • Yes but if you looked at what was already happenning (private stores for enterprise) The next step to allow businesses to setup their own is not far fetched or unexpected. I do hope they limit this to larger businesses like steam etc. And though true UWA would handle this quite well Centennial wrapped w32 will not be as secure so 100s of stores popping up is bad too. Honestly they should just do the stores for them at a volume basis and let them do what they do best being the social platform and features,  
  • Did you guys actually read the original source?? He mentions all this, and even criticizes google (because they bury the option and have it off by default, to be able to install apps from other sources)
  • For seething, pus filed apps waiting to attack.
  • The difference is there is an unlimited number of stores for Windows - it is called the Internet. I can go to any web site, pay my money (if the software is not free), and install. I can even download other stores for Windows and install those - example: Steam, which, interestingly, we were told by Gabe that it would not be possible with Windows 8, but somehow it is and was being done. These people complaining are simply looking for a few minutes of free advertising, a way of getting their name out there and rally those who dislike Microsoft. They do have a choice, however - start writing their games for (and only for) Mac. They will actually run into the problems they are accusing Microsoft of doing since you need to do extra things to install software on Mac outside of the store. And that same app will not run on the iPad, iPhone, etc. And then there is the problem, as we saw yesterday, about how there are no good Macs because of their underpowered graphics, but let them go Mac exclusive for a while and see how it works out for them.
  • My point exactly! Screw you, Mr. Sweeney.
  • Sweeney is right, but of course the Microsoft fanboys are ridiculous. The huge difference is that current Windows game development is already open and is not locked down to a store like iOS etc.
  • How is he right when you an install any app from any webpage from the entire internet?  You can install any store like Steam and install any app.  UWP is just one of... a million places to install anything on Windows. And unlike Android, you do not have to even enable it.
  • Or the play store too :/
  • Once Xamarin is fully integrated with Visual Studio, Microsoft will be the only platform supporting a single code base that could be built and deployed to almost all platforms. If anything, he should be saying Microsoft is the good guys trying to break a walled garden model created by Apple, and that Apple must be fought at all costs. I assume he's a smart guy, but I believe he spoke without thinking because of his biases.
  • Man he is talking about console gaming not the mobile gaming. Just come out of mobile to mobile war and see the reality. He's right over here for the market share.
  • No he's talking about pc gaming.
  •  Hah, both you and him just missed few points here: You still can release Console games for Xbox One You still can write games for Xbox Live You  still can write PC games using C++ and .NET with or without DirectX, Unity and other. You still can develop games for Web running on various browsers In addiiton to that, you can write games for UWP platform targeting all platforms that run Microsoft Windows. 
  • Can't he just have the appx file on his site and charge people to download
  • "He's right over here for the market share" The Windows 10 Store has almost zero market share of PC gaming. If Sweeney wants to criticize walled-off monopolies, he should be criticizing Steam, not the Windows Store.
  • Its not that easy u know, u have to learn all platform workflow and xamarin form is still lack some. Basically a big headache...haiz
  • I see some negatives on this, but as a Xamarin dev, I can second this.  Xamarin is incredible, but it's not a platform for top notch games. Allthough some of the back-end stuff can port from platform to platform, the UI layer is a nightmare compared to any of the windows platforms. Xamarin forms is pretty cool, but again, if you want anything other than what comes out of the box, you will be writting custom code, and good luck finding examples.
  • There are alternatives to the play store like Amazon or even downloading apks from whereever you want. No Android user has to use the play store.
  • Similarly one can always side load apps in W10 or can use the Win32 one
  • No Windows-user has to use the Windows Store either. All stores have exlusive contents. Sent from my Windows 10 PC.
  • you can always download appx and side load in windows like android does.
  • EXACTLY what I was thinking!
  • This reaction means Microsoft is doing something worth a ton of money and jealousy entails...
  • This, a 100 times. See who's getting itchy about this. First and foremost, Gabe Newell since day 1 of Windows 8 store. He did see it coming. Not the same as being able to stop it.
  • And how did that work out? Steam probably brings in more revenue in a day than the Windows 8 store ever did throughout its entire lifespan.  
  • You're comparing apples and oranges, completely irrelevant, wrong again buddy, sorry.
  • Gabe provoked Microsoft by his whining and now he's going to pay!
  • iOS, like everything involving Apple was never open. Nobody had to develop here but if, you know how it would be controlled by Apple.
    Windows was always open. You could download any piece of software from wherever. So, simply, you can't compare these two. When MS now wants to follow the road of Apple I hope many more developers and users will complain. It makes no sense to take a bad thing as reference and cry "But they do it all the time!" And? That's one reason we Windows users don't use Apple products. It's the freedom to use our computers as we want.  
  • Lol next thing you know they'll offer azure for store
  • And that would be a good thing, and would be counter to what this guy is saying. I want to open a store, charge people for buying something, then delegate to Azure to handle the credit card charge and to charge the correct taxes (which, if you ever tried it, is a real bitc_h because of how it is calculated). The more services available the better. But to some such as yourself, having more ability seems to be a bad thing.
  • You know, I like the part where I can buy something on my PC/console and run it everywhere as long as it's Windows. That said, no one is stopping anyone from putting out win 32 versions of their programs. Yes, there are cons but, quite frankly, I get the distinct impression that the guy at Epic is more worried about his financial bottom line than the freedom of consumers. And although I like buying things directly from companies, they sure do love trying to force me to get stuff through Steam instead of hosting their own files. Weird part is that where are all these people complaining about Steam which also takes a cut?
  • You are so right sir.
  • What exactly is steam's cut for developers selling games through steam? Just curious
  • Last time I checked, it was about 30%, the same as MS. To be fair, they might have lowered it by now or they might have cut deals with developers by lowering the amount they take if said developers use Steam-specific plugins.
  • yes Posted from Microsoft Lumia 950 from 'God's own country' in India ☺
  • IOS games don't cost 60$, don't weigh 40 GB and are targeted at a different demographic. What Microsoft is doing is practically a first.
  • I agree that steam and origin and other big places should be able to have enterprise stores in the Microsoft store and they need to make deals with these companies. Today steam takes 30% and people don't care because of exposure. Websites can have links to the ms store. I think ms store would provide more exposure than a website. That's why ms should buy steam. Steam has the game monopoly and people don't care.
  • I seriously doubt Steam will sell.
  • They buy Valve and make Gabe take charge of windows 10 gaming. This would include Xbox once it's on the platform.
  • I wouldn't want Gabe involved with windows.,  Or small children...
  • Bro a serious question have you ever owned a gaming console. He's talking about the epic game's title not the mobile gaming just grow up and he's right as myself is also a developer and microsoft is not giving that much of freedom while developing where others do. But I'm also a serious admirer of windows phones therefore, do think before you write.
  • Do you think things would have been different if Apple had a condole? Game makers can still monetize through Steam and other places if they want to have those services. They would just have to build it in-app rather than making those available through multiple sources.
  • Ah, the Pippin.
  • Wat
  • iOS App Store is a for a platform that's always, from its inception, been a closed platform. That's the reason people like me have avoided it, we want the freedom of PC. MS is being morons trying to turn PCs into iPads.  
  • Tablets that can run x86/x64 programs are much better than iPads.
  • I disagree, Microsoft is making out do oriole can use a device of there choice. That fact is, is that people are using their phones and tablets more today than traditional computers and laptops, do Microsoft is simply adjusting their strategy towards societies tends which Apple started with the induction of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. So please redirect your disdain toward them.
  • Dude, SPELL CHECK is your friend, LOL - turn it back on, please! :-) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • +1
  •   Just saying...   App model >  Win32 model. Less system instability and a better user experience.
  • If u play games then u should understand that if you are facing enemies, you are going to right direction...UWP is the future
  • If u play games then u should understand that if you are facing enemies, you are going to right direction...UWP is the future
  • Seems to me that UWP would cut down on piracy, but maybe Im missing something.
  • exactly my thoughts. And the developers don't have to invest in crazy copy protection programs. 
  • They still will though, even if UWP means they didn't have to. Why, because they hate us.
  • Yes it's true. And very good in fact.
    But maybe Tim is saying that the games must not be restricted to windows store only.
  • But the two current games aren't though, granted one is exclusive to Microsoft's platform but still it was an xbox exclusive IP in the first place.
  • They aren't... There's nothing preventing them from releasing them on other stores aswell. It's not "Windows Store" OR "Steam, GoG, etc"...
  • If this is the case, then I think Tim is just whining and nothing else.
    His statements are totally baseless if games are open to different platforms.
  • I just think hes just a bit uninformed with a side dose of kneejerkery.
  • Yup!
  • What he means is, UWP apps on stores such as steam. For eg: Rise of tomb raider on steam is win32 and it's a uwp on windows store
  • UWP is basically a wrapper albeit a very tight wrapper when it comes to games. So no, why should it be on Steam - it doesn't make any sense as steam have their own method dealing with installs.
  • Then where games should be too? On lagdroid or naivePhone? Windows Store means that games will be on xbox, w10, even w10m and so on. With 32 programs/games only on PC. What are you and mr. Sweentroll thinking? Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Wow, you're such an fanboy. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • It actually doesn't mean that. There are tons of games available on Windows Phone Store, but not on the Windows 10 store and vice versa, tho it is the same platform.
  • What Tim is saying is that he don't want Microsoft cutting 30%
    If they want "freedom" they always have linux there. Please, ask the same for PlayStation (Some people believe Apple don't apply to this, i feel they do).
  • Most DRM's nowadays are uncrackable anyways though.
  • LOL
  • I died when I read that 'lol'! NO such thing!
  • Point me to a crack for Just Cause 3 then. Several well known game cracking groups have said words to the effect of 'we can't do it'.
  • Can't do it now is not the same thing as "can't be done" NOTHING, is unhackable. Only perceivably so for the moment.
  • UWP in it's current state is very limiting. No SLI/Crossfire support, games capped at 60fps with v-sync locked on (so no 144hz support), no overlay support (tkings like fraps or riva turner statistics), no true fullscreen support (I think it only supported borderless but I'm not sure), it has a heavy impact on the performance, there was a video of gears of war running on UWP, it was averaging 15 fps or something like that. Basically this would bring PC down to a console level
  • i can see people downvoting anyone pointing out the flaws of AAA games on Windows Store. I will NEVER buy AAA games from Windows Store. STEAM anyday, allday
  • some of those issuesalready been fixed or on working.
  • "Weigh in" instead of "way in" ;P
  • Apple does it, Google does it; all is well. Microsoft does it; now we have a problem. Seriously, f-off
  • Yeah, f-them.
  • Where do Apple and Google distribute PC games on a closed-platform?  
  • Not so much PC games, but they have their own 'Controlled stores', much like MS wants
  • The Mac Store and Play Store.
  • App Store for Apple. Go play in Linux like google did, if you don't like it don't eat it.
  • Agree!!!
  • Well lets be honest here, Steam, Origin and Uplay all do it too.  All those things are is a DRM delivery system.
  • Win32 apps are far more Powerful than these UWP here.
  • Did you read the article? Win32 apps are coming to the Win10 Store aswell. Games like Tomb Raider and Quantum Break are the first. 
  • yeah but those win32 app on Store doesn't have feature parity with the original ones, due to UWP platform restrictions.
  • What features are missing in Tomb Raider? Sent from my Windows 10 PC.
  • Most basic graphic settings like the option how to use vsync?
  • That's _one_ thing and they've already said they are working on it...
  • http://www.howtogeek.com/243012/why-you-shouldnt-buy-rise-of-the-tomb-ra... http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/02/microsoft-needs-to-stop-forcing-co... http://betanews.com/2016/02/26/beware-windows-store-games-have-serious-l... http://www.howtogeek.com/243559/why-desktop-apps-arent-available-in-the-...   or Search on Google
  • It doesn’t support SLI or CrossFire​ - Lie Vsync is always on - That's up to the developer Always borderless fullscreen - This has no effect on performance since the GPU's will not update the graphics behind the window. No modding - True... For better or worse (no cheats) No .exe - This used to be the biggest complaint... Windows and their worthless .exe files... Oh how tides have shifted. No overlays - (No fraps). There are built in Xbox-app overlays and game recording is native. Refund policy - Same as ever... Windows Store has handled refunds much longer than Steam. Only for Windows 10 - Yes, like all games that runs on DX12... No difference from Steam games that are made for DX12.
  • Does the Xbox app have fraps? I love seeing the little fps meter at the top :)
  • http://www.howtogeek.com/243012/why-you-shouldnt-buy-rise-of-the-tomb-ra... http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/02/microsoft-needs-to-stop-forcing-co... http://betanews.com/2016/02/26/beware-windows-store-games-have-serious-l... http://www.howtogeek.com/243559/why-desktop-apps-arent-available-in-the-...   or Search on Google
  • This is only on Tomb Raider version. Gears of War is uncapped, i'm running it using my 980ti with uncapped frames. Only crap bug it has is i can't use G-SYNC and the Coalition said is working on a fix. Also they said they're working on DX12 "explicit adapter" code to use more than one gpu.
  • That's not how any of this works...
  • I saved more than that in half the time!
  • That doesn't mean you can't install Win32 apps outside the store, when that happens i'll listen.
  • You seriously cant complain about a new API being less powerful than a legacy one.
  • He is clearly uneducated, since the Store can distribute Win32 apps via Centenial.  Or will be in the next few months as that is enabled.  So half of his complaints are non-existant.
  • realwarder relax, read elwin lobo's comment above yours
  • realwarder relax, first understand what i said & read elwin lobo's comment above yours
  • its Centennial & i know about it but those win32 apps on Store doesn't have feature parity with the original ones, due to UWP platform restrictions and you agree with it yourself as half of my complaints are existant.
  • its Centennial & i know about it but those win32 apps on Store doesn't have feature parity with the original ones, due to UWP platform restrictions and you agree with it yourself as half of my complaints are existant.
  • No body complained of Google and Apple duopolising smartphone sector. Ms got to many haters
  • So you get your PC games from Apple and Google app stores?  
  • No. I get them from torrent sites why?
  • LoL!
  • hahaha
  • Traitor Traitor!!
  • So why doesn't he complain about Apple and Android's App Stores?
  • Because they don't have or can't run many of those AAA titles
  • Wait!
    Isn't the iPad Pro so powerful that could be compared to a surface 3 or even a Surface pro 4?
    Isn't apple's metal goal to turn iDevices into gaming devices console alike? So, they'll ask apple to open their platform when they get the enoght power?
  • UWP should be there.
    if MS locks the Windows store then its benefit for developers only bcoz no one can crak the apps and install the paid apps for free( developer hard work matters )...
  • Like the "MOD" versions available for Android apps!
  • When Apple and Google were busy taking over the smartphone and tablet markets, nobody thought anything of it. But Microsoft tries to do something innovative and ultimately beneficial to the developers (one app for all devices and cut down on piracy), everybody loses their freaking minds. Like seriously, what the hell?
  • You can't compare Android to Windows. 
  • Yes you can. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • And even if you could, you can use other stores too on Android. Like Amazon. Or every website. It's only one checkbox away and you can install any apk from any source.
  • As opposed to windows... where you click a button... Yeah. No comparison with that checkbox.
  • You can use alternative stores on windows too.
  • I find it hard to believe that ohsay valve doesn't get a cut from the revenue from games sold through steam. Uplay and origin are pretty much their own things though.
    My only issue with the article is that this seems like it's only about not wanting to pay to Microsoft for uwp. The strangest thing is that you don't really see EA or even Blizzard whining for this.
    As for the argument about the in-app shop cut: As long as this leads to less in-app stores and day one on-disc dlc, I'm fairly happy about this.
  • EA and Blizzard have their own stores though and stick to them exclusively. They won't support UWP anyway. Sweeney's argument is mostly for other devs to not support UWP either and stick to win32. Which might make sense. If UWP won't be every bit as open as win32 then it would be best if it stayed focused solely on mobile-style apps, while bigger software would remain win32. 
  • Did he type that out on a MAC? Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • I don't really understand his complaints. As a developer you are free to release and distribute code in whatever form you choose? Tomb Raider is in Steam as well as in the windows store. And when was the last time you could download a game "from the websites of publishers and developers"? Pretty much everything is purchased through steam. Even retail games require it most of the time, becaus publishers love account binding and prevent you from reselling your games. What games do i find on epics website by the way? At least there is a tangible benefit for Xbox owners with possible cross buy/play features and for developers to easily support those 2 platforms with minimum hassle. Or the benefit of UWP being platform agnostic and would probably easily run on the next generation console from MS without any problem. So I guess the complain is actually that he wants to reap those benefits but without being bound to the windows store for distirbution.
  • Nailed it! Especially with the final sentence.
  • Wait, I don't get his concern at all right now the games that have been launched are Rise of the Tomb Raider which was a time exclusive therefore not exclusive to a "walled garden". Whereas Quantum Break was an xbox exclusive but will be available on PC via the windows store soo beyond these there haven't been other "test cases" for his arguments.
  • Presumably Xbox integration is one of the things he's talking about. Can't have that on Steam.
  • Well steam have their own achievement system, albeit it's worthless in my opinion. Speaking of achievements, Uplay, PSN etc have their own too. So that point is moot :).
  • I don't know much about these things now-a-days, but it's true that win32 apps are more flexible and doesn't fit with the new 'iOS kinda' apps.
    Yes it's easy for many people to just pay and install, but they suit to small games only. For an AAA game, I'd definitely prefer a disk (for consoles), an installation folder, files and everything. That's where the charm is :p
    And yes, win32 softwares/games don't fit in the app store for me. Btw, it's totally my personal point of view.
  • Tim Sweeney seems like a biased *****. Windows Store is a great way against privacy and it's easier to update game and make it reacheable for everyone. What he's thinking with? Probable he got paid from Google or Apple to say soething stupid as this ****, because, you know the reasons. Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • Fu mr.sweeney
  • My concern is we won't have such great games like the Civilization series if it is locked to the Windows Store. I was against Steam at first but now I love how Steam and their community works. Steam/Valve also takes great pride in making sure bugs get fixed and updates are rolled out quickly. Using Mods is also possible. If the Windows Store follows the pattern of Windows itself in bug fixes and update releases then that doesn't bode well for future games released within the store. I'm sure with time all of these concerns will be dealt away with and developers can still code in Win32 if they desire so I'm sure all of this chatter will be for nothing. On the plus side I like the UWP because more and more stuff is becoming available for W10M and Continuum which is great!
  • You know that Microsoft won't do bug fixes for games they didn't create, right ? The developer of the game does the bug fixes and post them to the store, this is already being done on the xbox360 and xbox one. The only difference is that on the consoles Microsoft does some extra checks to make sure the update doesn't screw up the consoles.        
  • Maybe this is just marketing. There are many "PC Master Race" kids ******** arround about Windows 10 and MS and of cause about the Windows Store since Tomb Raider released with some problems. 
  • It really comes down to money, 30% is a lot, even tho he's "OK with Window's having their own store" it's clearly troubling because of all that revenue loss... poor guy
  • Yeah but the money they save in piracy had got to be a wash anyways. Right?
  • Business man is trying to get children and idiots to u