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Microsoft's Phil Spencer talks about why Halo 5 likely won't be coming to Windows

Xbox head Phil Spencer has explained during a Q&A at Microsoft's Build 2016 conference why Halo 5 likely won't be coming to PC. He also touched on why some games will remain exclusive to specific platforms, stating that Microsoft published games will be released on platforms that make sense, using Ashes of the Singularity on PC as an example.

That's not to say Microsoft plans to only publish titles on a single platform. Forza 6, Quantum Break and Rise of the Tomb Raider are perfect examples of games working on multiple systems. It's more to avoid experiences that won't really work on different platforms (or weren't developed with them in mind).

"I don't want to make it some kind of artificial mandate, because then I think we end up with 'Frankengames', games that really weren't meant for a certain platform. And because some suit said, 'Hey, everything's gotta run on both platforms', you end up with something people don't want. You should expect it when franchises look like they belong on both platforms, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a mandate for the studios because it's not."

As for Halo 5, which is a first-person shooter (we have many on the PC), Spencer explained that the latest instalment was designed from the get-go for consoles. Halo Wars 2 on-the-other-hand is being developed for both PC and Xbox One. While it's not a definitive "no" for Halo 5, but it's not looking likely. That said, Microsoft could have PC Halo plans with regards to 6 and beyond so we'll have to see.

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

67 Comments
  • I don't care for "6 and beyond", just let me finish the fight in Halo 3!
  • You can, with The Master Chief Collection, but not on PC.
  • There's no evidence that suggests that UWP has failed or is failing. I don't know where you got that from.
  • Have to agree with you on this one, assuming there would be PC/cards capable of running the game, and no other major technical hurdles. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • He pulled it out of his ass.
  • I completely agree! Microsoft (and even more for Nintendo) need to focus more on becoming a platform developer, not a hardware maker. The hardware business sucks to be in, and they aren't going to win. But having a curated sales platform that is decoupled from the devices would win them so many more sales! They need to become more like Steam or Origin offering a curated list of games and applications that will work across Windows, WP, and OSX (and iOS and Android if possible). If you have the hardware that can play the game, then they should make it available to the hardware.
    And for games being designed around 'a certain kind of experience', then just require some games to use a controller instead of keys and mice... surely it couldn't be that difficult. The PC could use more controller friendly games anyways.
  • well said bro,totally agree with you
  • My Surface Pro 3 just shrugged it's shoulders. +950 XL DS NAM CV Windows 10 Mobile
  • It'll be on iOS
  • It's sad, but I can actually see that happening.
  • That's because you don't get that iPhones can't run Halo.
  • I did miss that. I think because I was thinking of Spartan Strike and Spartan Assault which were made available on iOS. Definitely not the same caliber of Halo, but still. I'll own up to this folly. The internet got me early today :D +950 XL DS NAM CV Windows 10 Mobile
  • They could probably run Halo CE or Halo 2 at this point Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Halo 1 definitely, but I'm not so sure about Halo 2. The PC version of Halo 2 was actually quite demanding at the time and even today, running the game at max settings will push top of the line Intel HD Graphics GPU's close to their limits. The mobile GPU's found in iOS devices are still not as powerful as Intel HD Graphics so even the iPad Pro would probably struggle to run Halo 2 PC if it was directly ported over without any optimizations.
  • maybe the new ipad pro that can replace any pc... lolololol
  • HAHAAHA. Very funny. :( Ipad pro is a **** replication of the Surface Pro, except Apple cant make a desktop OS that actually matters. :D
  • That's a shame. At least I have a Xbox One, but I still prefer gaming on my PC.
  • Off topic: Rich, the actionable notifications on the UWP WC app says "repy" instead of "reply". Are you or anyone else reading this experiencing that? Dismiss is spelled right though. +950 XL DS NAM CV Windows 10 Mobile
  • yup
  • Thanks for confirming! I feel like it didn't used to be that way once upon a time. But maybe its been that way all along. +950 XL DS NAM CV Windows 10 Mobile
  • No, the  gaming news writer isn't looking into the app's wording. The developer of the app made a couple of threads on the forums. You could always take your post there, since that's where it should be.
  • I'm glad to hear this. Shoehorning this stuff onto all platforms because of UWP would probably do some harm. The game wouldn't behave properly (Aim Assist on a PC would make people mad), and you risk giving the game and the platform a bad name. That, and without a PC-specific matchmaking system, you then have the platforms mixed together, which isn't a fair fight for controller users. Future games could do it, though they definitely should keep the platforms separate for multiplayer (maybe mix for co-op campaign?).
  • What a self-serving argument. If you design a game just for Xbox and port it to PC, yes. It can be Frankenstein-ish. How about they start with it as a goal from day one? Or do it right after the fact? Make the next one a universal app after they fix the fps cap. Considering the whole releasing Halo Online only in Russia business, I don't honestly trust them on this topic.
  • Work on Halo 5 started before Satya Nadella told Xbox division that Windows 10 PCs are to be equal to Xbox One.
  • That's a fair point, however this is not a new topic. It was a dual release for a very long time. It was a conscious decision to only develop it for their Xbox gaming platform.
  • Developing game like that takes 3 years. The decision to go full cross-platform with PC might be as young as 12 months. If there is something in Halo 5 that relies on Xbox One hardware specifically they will probably wait until Halo 5 DLC releases are done and ship Ultimate Edition of Halo on PC. Or maybe they are porting Halo: MCC first. Who knows? What I'm sure is that Halo (and not only Halo Wars) is coming to PC.
  • You're asking them to plan for something after it already happened. Given you can't time travel to make that happen, you take what you get with reality. Halo Wars 2 is the first Halo game developed after the W10 launch, and it is getting the PC focus people want. There is no evidence they wouldn't try it for Halo 6, but you're asking them to gut and rebuild Halo 5 while trying to get other games made. It's not a feasible request.
  • What he really means is: "Yeah, we know you can make your PC more powerful than the XB1 and even use your XB1 controllers wirelessly with you computer so everything I'm saying about not being designed for that environment was BS. But, really, console exclusives, no matter how bad they are for the gaming industry, really do drive sales. It will be harder for us to make XB1 owners out of people who are already PS4 owners if we release Halo 5 on the PC. With other major games like Tomb Raider, we simply were'nt allowed to f--- PC gamers because we were'nt the publisher, but we do with Halo, and we're going to do what's good for our console rather than what's good for the community. Thanks all and have a good time at //Build."
  • No, what he said is that Halo 5 has been developed from the very beginning for Xbox One and porting it might be tricky and it's simply not their focus right now as they are still adding a lot of content to Halo 5 itself. Halo 6 will likely be on PC and they might even port Halo 5 at some point in the meanwhile to give PC gamers and option to keep up with the story.
  • Nope. QuietNine has the right perspective. Business decisions always have a majority component that involves money, not goodwill or technical hurdles.
  • Yeah, and there is more money to be made from bringing Halo to PC than from keeping it Xbox only.
  • Exactly the point! They don't want to cannibalize the Xbox. Get it yet?  :)
  • They actually want.
  • Whats funny is xb1 in its current state is its a Frankenstein os if you look in settings
  • Theres been hundreds of times where I haven't needed to comment on an article here, on the Verge (gave up on that place), or elsewhere, because GrzegorzWidla already said what I wanted to but better. So, thumbs up from a fan even if I disagree with you this time. Yes, you're right, XB1 runs two different OS's and MS needed to make the call early on in 343's development phases on whether or not PC was happening, because otherwise the PITA factor of bringing Halo5 to PC would be great. Yes, you're right, because they developed for XB_OS instead of both, porting is going to be resource intensive and that's not their immediate focus when they have so much on their plate. But the initial decision to not support PC was an intentional one. It was done to sell XBoxes at the cost of likely higher total Halo5 revenue. It was done knowing that they wouldn't have an easy time porting later. It was done because the marginal boost to XB1 from true exclusitivity and the collatoral benefiets that come from selling more of their consoles was more desireable for the XB team than the higher revenues of a cross-platform game. Spencer knows that, and instead of owning up to it and saying "console at the expense of PC was the mindset we were in during development" he instead put the executive spin on it. Its okay that strategies change, and I love the new MS strategies, but he shouldn't BS his fan base, he should be frank about how regretably the timing of Halo 5 didn't line up with their new vision.
  • You have good points. Nothing wrong with disagreeing - though I agree that Phil is only spouting PR speak here.
  • Congratulations, your cracked the code. Posted with Lumia 950.
  • Personally, for the love I have of Microsoft ill rather not see Halo on the PC platform. Ive heard PS4 gamers complain about not having Halo to play and for the Xbox, this really drives sales and I want the Xbox to do well. So lets enjoy the ones they've ported and stop being so greedy. So many FPS games on the PC already. Lets enjoy those ones.
  • double post, please delete
  • I'm all for having other Halo titles on PC/ phone etc, but think it's nice to keep the main titles on console. thethirdhelix Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
  • As someone who really wants it on PC, I would never want it taken away from my console-owning brothers. Swapping one platform exclusive for another would be terrible.
  • What a ******* loon this guy is. Did he just really say, that FPS Games are not meant for the Desktop PC?
    FPS was invented and perfected on PC you maniac! Just aAnother reason why Microsoft will slowly buw surely die. They don't lead in Gaming, Machine Learning, Cloud, OS literally evaporates, Mobile is dead. What a time to bet on Microsoft lool
  • No, he didn't. But then accuracy doesn't stop people like you spewing drivel and FUD whenever they can.
    As for the rest of your post...........
  • No... Phil Spencer never actually said that...
  • Halo 5 sucked anyway (both Story and Multiplayer). PC gamers... you missed nothing
  • "oh i'd like to play xbox exclusives" said no PC gamer ever
    We have games that are far better then the console ones, so we don't even bother to have a console to play exclusives, we don't miss any game
  • speak for yourselves. I love halo and would love to have it on my platform of choice.
  • If you're not good at the multiplayer its easy to say it sucked anyway. True FPS gamers which love the genre and are good, know this is the best FPS multiplayer on this gen across all platforms.
  • Nobody cares about console games on PC as long as they are on Windows Store, if they come to Steam, the PC gaming community might give some attention to xbox games on PC
  • Well their loss then
  • Even if they fix the couple problems the windows store has people will still avoid it like the plaque because Microsoft Posted via the Windows Central App for Android only because the screen on my 1520 broke.
  • Rip 1520
  • thanks I miss that 1520 now I'm stuck with a lg g4. decent phone. would be better with win10 mobile though
  • Well like I said, that's literally their loss then. PC gamers have been asking Microsoft to start bringing a lot of these games to PC for almost a decade now and Microsoft finally has. Honestly, they're lucky Microsoft even gave them the option to play these former exclusives on PC. In all likelihood, Microsoft could've continued ignoring the PC gaming market like they've been doing for a decade or so and it probably wouldn't hurt their bottom line much.
  • I personally don't have a problem with the store as long as it means I get the games I want. now if they fix the issues the store has even better
  • "Won't likely" are you guys trying out some new article headline bot? It's unlikely to be coming to the pc but tbh he didn't even say that. Next time try Cortana.
  • I don't want to say "BS" but it would be an appropiate reaction. As if there's no console-like first person shooters. Heck, they've even just released Gears of War. Because a PC with a controller fullfills all the requirements for a game to play exactly like in Xbox One. So yeah, the example of Ashes of the Singularity is not good either because it's a mouse game, those obviously either don't get ported or would have their interface revamped, like Diablo III and the likes. So this is not a reply that can be taken seriously. If they don't want to bring effin' Halo 5 to the PC because it's an exclusive, fine. But don't lie. If it's about the money, we understand, no need for taking us for fools.
  • The real reason "Well we need to keep at least 1 reason for people to buy the Xbox One".  
  • So basically the most stupir reson ever: because we made it that way !?
  • Halo Wars 2!?!? Sweet!!! Posted from Windows Central for Windows 10
    Using the Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL for Windows 10
  • So my pc with a tv and xbox controller isn't xbox enough for halo, why not require people to use controller then? And then next halo can have kb and mouse
  • What is it about Halo 5 that it can't run on a PC, especially if XBox is shifting to UWP? So here is a question: If Halo 5 is desgned to run on UWP, how are they going to prevent people from running it on both PC  and XBox?
  • Ok fine don't bring h5 to PC...but for gods sake enable keyboard and mouse support on Xbox so we don't have to use stupid controllers for fps games.
  • good you want to play it? buy an xbox one!
  • .y concern with this new direction is that games won't be optimized to squeeze out every bit of performance from consoles anymore and just written for general PC specs.
  • Reason is simple, Halo is main seller of xbox one, being exclusive title.
  • Just use a controller. :/ Was really hoping to play Halo 3 ODST on my laptop.