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
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. 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 steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine