Updated December 7, 2018: Since writing this article, Microsoft's official Xbox Play Anywhere list has been updated to remove Ashen completely.
Updated December 8, 2018: Aurora44 put out a blog post to state that Ashen is indeed coming to the Windows 10 Microsoft Store and "other platforms" (presumably Steam) in the future, with Annapurna confirming that it's also coming to Xbox Play Anywhere. It looks as though at least for the time being, it will be exclusive to the Epic Games Store for PC.
Let's begin with the Windows 10 availability in the Microsoft Store. The Xbox One launch of Ashen could not have been a better success story, in our opinion, and Microsoft has been unbelievably supportive throughout the development of Ashen. We are currently working with our partners at Microsoft and the ID@Xbox team on bringing Ashen to the Microsoft Store on Windows 10 as soon as possible. We wholeheartedly agree that this would have been better available day one. We are a small studio that just shipped a very big game, but have been actively working to get it there. Rest assured, it is coming.
Epic Games spent quite a lot on advertising during last night's Game Awards, with several high-profile exclusives for its fresh PC digital distribution platform. One stung a little more than the others, however.
Ashen, long-touted as coming to both the Microsoft Store and Steam, launched on Xbox last night out of the blue. The asynchronous co-op open-world RPG sports a haunting art style, with gorgeous visuals, and tight, action combat, and should have been a major addition to the Xbox Play Anywhere offering. However, it seems that Epic Games' push into PC gaming has not only nuked Ashen's availability on Steam, as well as its availability on the Microsoft Store, and thus, Xbox Play Anywhere.
Ashen has been advertised as an Xbox Play Anywhere title for literally years at this point, so the omission is pretty surprising. Xbox Play Anywhere allows gamers to play and sync their progress across both Xbox One and Windows 10 with a single purchase, and has the added benefit of supporting PC games inside Xbox Game Pass. As of writing, Ashen is neither listed as Xbox Play Anywhere on its Microsoft Store page, despite being listed on the main Xbox Play Anywhere website. Additionally, it's now listed with a "TBD" launch date on Steam.
It could simply be a timed exclusivity deal with Epic Games holding up its launch on Steam and the Microsoft Store, but the terms of the deal is unknown at this time. We reached out to Aurora44 for clarification, but haven't heard back yet.
Epic Games is offering developers a very lucrative 88 per cent share of revenue from sales on games offered through its platform, which beats Steam and Microsoft by a significant margin. The competition Epic Games is bringing should light a fire under its peers to offer better terms for developers. However, its aggressive pursuit of exclusivity rights looks as though it's already causing harm to Xbox Play Anywhere, which is one of the most consumer-friendly cross-device offerings out there, as well as Steam, where the vast majority of PC gamers currently live. It'll be interesting to see how Valve and Microsoft respond in the future.
Ashen is available now for $40 on Xbox One and the Epic Games Store for PC.
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