Remedy Entertainment and Microsoft Studios are bringing the time-warping shooter Quantum Break to Steam, leading to all sorts of speculation about failed sales expectations, soured business relationships and beyond.
Remedy's Thomas Puha previously tweeted that it was "unlikely" that Remedy would release another Windows 10 patch, but has since clarified that the Windows 10 Store version will be updated to maintain parity with the Steam version.
Thomas Puha apologized for the confusion caused by his earlier tweet, while stating that updates for Quantum Break on Steam will also hit the Windows 10 Store version.
Clarifying that, of course, updates made to QB on Steam will also be released for the Win10 version and vice versa. That should be a given.— Thomas Puha (@RiotRMD) August 12, 2016
Apologies for the confusion caused. We are not leaving one version behind for another. Parity is important. Again, I'd think thats a given.— Thomas Puha (@RiotRMD) August 12, 2016
Apps packaged for the Universal Windows Platform essentially run inside a container that mimics a standard Windows environment. It wouldn't necessarily be a huge amount of work for Remedy to bring any updates to the Win32 version of Quantum Break to the UWP packaged version of the game, and hopefully, Thomas Puha's comments above reflect that.
I have seen plenty of speculation across the internet regarding Quantum Break's imminent release on Steam pointing to poor sales on the Windows 10 Store, poor return on investment and so on. I think the reality is a little more mundane.
When it comes to second party deals, it's all about business, and every contractual agreement is different. Remedy has a long history of supporting Win32 PC games, and they enjoy a strong heritage as PC game developers. I think it's safe to presume that Quantum Break was always planned for a Steam launch, but it also presented a unique opportunity for Microsoft to not only promote the Windows 10 Store as a core gaming platform, but also gather feedback on where UWP gaming excels, and where it fails.
If the Universal Windows Platform is ever going to reach the level of quality it needs to compete with Win32 as a way for distributing games, they need to actually sell games on it and gather feedback from regular consumers.
That said, there's simply no way that a PC game distributed on the Windows 10 Store will earn as much as games distributed on Steam at this point. With Quantum Break's initial sales long behind it, putting it out to Windows 8 and Windows 7 PCs on the tried and tested Steam platform is essentially free money for both Remedy and Microsoft Studios. It's a no-brainer, and it's not like there isn't already a precedent for this happening.
Dead Rising 3, a former Xbox exclusive also hit Steam. Rise of the Tomb Raider, previously Xbox and Windows 10 Store exclusive, also arrived on Steam. Both of those titles have their own publishers, but Microsoft brought Ori and the Blind Forest to Steam as the publisher too, despite it hitting Xbox and Windows 10 UWP as an exclusive last year.
With a second party developer involved, there are most likely royalty payments on units sold. Maximizing those royalties on PC means the game needs to hit Steam, which is by far the most popular distribution platform for PC games. To that end, you should expect other Xbox One and Windows 10 Store exclusives like ReCore and Scalebound to hit Steam in the future as well.
There's no conspiracy here, just good business sense, and it will help to keep Microsoft Studios as a self-sustaining entity, enabling them to innovate, take risks and ultimately, fund more games.
Quantum Break will hit Steam on September 14th, 2016.
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