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The Windows 10 Store for games shouldn't try and take on Steam, it should be something different

Recently, I looked at how Microsoft has been making steady changes to the way the Windows 10 Store on PC handles its "Games" section. Microsoft has removed the "Recommended" section, which usually ended up surfacing Windows 8-era mobile games alongside AAA PC titles. The "Best Rated" section has been moved to the bottom, owing, once again, to the way legacy ratings and mobile games have impacted the overall metrics. And Redmond has also created a new "New PC games" row, focusing specifically on games designed for mouse and keyboard first.

There are still improvements to make, but Microsoft is listening and iterating, and it's clear that Redmond wants the Windows 10 Store to be seen as a viable store not just for serious PC game developers, but also serious PC gamers as well. The thing is, I'm not sure the Windows 10 Store can ever hope to compete with the goodwill, feature set, and the huge catalogue of games Valve has built up over the years for Steam. Competing head on isn't going to do Microsoft any favors.

I think, instead, Microsoft should focus on offering something different.

Windows 10 Store vs. Steam.

The Ghost of Games for Windows Live

Games for Windows might be dead, but PC gamers by and large remember it, and frequently point to it as a reason to not trust Microsoft when it comes to PC gaming platforms. PC gamers held similar mistrust for Steam too, when it first launched, but now Valve's powerful, but arguably bloated Win32 Steam launcher has become synonymous with PC gaming itself.

It's not just the service itself, either. Half Life 3 memes, Valve CEO Gabe Newell's status as an internet celebrity, Steam sales, community reviews, forums, and groups. Steam is ingrained in the consciousness of PC gaming, and is as much a part of the hobby as the games themselves. Even in Microsoft's most optimistic dreams, I doubt the company could even hope to compete with that zeitgeist on PC, despite owning the platform where Steam is most popular — Windows.

Games for Windows didn't have many fans.

Games for Windows didn't have many fans.

Microsoft's image as Windows platform holder has improved leaps and bounds since the dark days of Games for Windows Live (GFWL). Microsoft attempted to impose a Xbox Live-like fee on the service, which PC gamers resoundingly rejected. Games that utilized GFWL digital rights management (DRM) often had issues registering serial keys, and there was a litany of other small issues that Steam gamers simply didn't have to deal with. The service was eventually shut down, solidifying Steamworks as the de-facto DRM service on PC.

Microsoft is trying to edge its way back into PC gaming leveraging the Windows 10 Store and the Universal Windows Platform (UWP), which is wildly different from Steam and the way classic PC games are delivered.

The Universal Windows Platform visualized.

UWP has seen its fair share of criticism too from all walks of life, some of it valid, some of it baseless conspiracy fuel. I've written previously about what UWP means for gaming, and its relative immaturity as a platform, and how accusations that it's simply GFWL 2.0 are unfair.

Xbox in your PC: The Universal Windows Platform is premature, but not evil

Even if the idea of Microsoft having another PC DRM platform is too difficult to stomach for the PC gaming community, it doesn't matter too much. Steam has a full-blown monopoly, and it doesn't seem likely that Microsoft will be able to strike it down, even if it wanted to.

Xbox head Phil Spencer has previously gone on record to praise Steam and its contributions to creating a vibrant ecosystem for PC gamers. Spencer also made good on his 2016 promises to bring more games to Steam, which now includes Killer Instinct and Halo Wars Definitive Edition.

Phil Spencer - Head of Xbox

Pictured: Phil Spencer demonstrating the Xbox app for Windows 10.

I think the best way for Microsoft to co-exist with Steam is not to simply go head-to-head with the platform. Instead, Microsoft should offer something different, to a different user base, in a way that will not only help Windows and Xbox, but one that could also help Steam and PC manufacturers too.

Closed vs. Open

Microsoft debuted Windows 10 S a little while ago, which is effectively an edition of Windows that is entirely focused on the app store. You can't install programs from outside sources on Windows 10 S, making it incredibly secure, and, at least in theory, better for battery life. Most of the hardware announced for Windows 10 S thus-far is certainly not powerful enough to run high-end "core" games, save for some less intensive ones like Minecraft perhaps, but that doesn't mean there won't be more powerful Windows 10 S options in the future.

Windows 10 S

It's not so much the operating system itself that is relevant to this discussion, but the sentiment. Windows 10 S represents Microsoft's desire to get more apps into the Windows 10 Store, which is checked, controlled, and secure. Blocking the execution of unverified code will generally make Windows 10 S far more secure, and, of course, it has the side benefit of giving Microsoft a cut of app sales, similar to iOS, Android, and indeed, Steam.

Most core PC gamers will always want Windows 10 Pro for Steam, but that lifestyle isn't desired by all gamers.

Microsoft isn't going to stop supporting Win32 ".exe" games in the near term, or even the long term. It's by far the most popular method for delivering programs and games on Windows, and that isn't going to change anytime soon. This is why Microsoft created Project Centennial, which allows Win32 apps (and games) to be wrapped and secured for delivery on the Windows 10 Store. Still, companies that have the foresight to see where Microsoft is eventually taking Windows have already begun bringing their applications to the Windows 10 Store, including Spotify and even iTunes. Steam, however, won't be able to follow suit.

Unless Microsoft changes something, Steam will always require Windows 10 Pro editions because the games on its store require Win32 libraries that are restricted on Windows 10 S. It's not really a big deal, since "S" targets a different audience to "Pro," as suggested by their names. It's no accident that Microsoft revealed Windows 10 S at an event focusing on business and education sectors, as it aims to stem the rise of Chromebooks.

Core PC gamers will always want Windows 10 Pro for Steam, and for the ability to download and install mods, some of which might be delivered via Win32 packages. But that lifestyle isn't desired by all gamers.

The power and openness of PC are simultaneously its biggest strength and its biggest weakness. Compatibility issues, quality control, and hacking is rife on PC, but it has led to some of the greatest and most beloved games in existence, not to mention the most innovative.

As an open platform, PC will remain the driving force of all core gaming, but console and even mobile gaming have risen to prominence in the background, powered by safe, secure, and convenient platforms like iOS, PlayStation, and of course, Xbox Live. As such, the curated Windows 10 S should prove to be not only adequate for many, but it might actually be desirable. Microsoft should consider building a gaming ecosystem on the Windows 10 Store that targets that type of user, whether they're on Windows 10 S or Pro editions.

"Xbox for PC"

I opened by saying Microsoft shouldn't bother trying to take on Steam because I think they could bridge the divide between the power and openness of PC, while bringing some of the convenience and consistency of console. I think Microsoft should let Steam have the hardcore PC audience, and let it continue to flourish as a bastion of open, innovative development that it has always been. The Windows 10 Store could be a secondary option, for gamers who want a console-like experience on their PC, or casual players looking to try out PC gaming for the first time.

The Windows 10 Store already has moved in this direction to some degree. UWP apps always run in Windowed mode, and don't run with screen exclusivity. Casual PC users more familiar with the "Windows" experience will no doubt find UWP more friendly if they haven't experienced Win32 PC gaming before, where keyboard shortcuts or a whole host of random application exit methods are generally considered the norm for exiting games. UWP games are always top right corner, "X" button to close, like any other window.

Casual PC users more familiar with the "Windows" experience will no doubt find UWP more friendly if they haven't experienced Win32 PC gaming.

Most Win32 games run in full screen exclusive mode by default, which as a console gamer, I've always found annoying. And even then, wrestling with resolution, window sizing, and positioning varies from game to game, which is a far cry from the consistency I enjoy on my Xbox. UWP games interact with Windows in a more regimented way, because they run in a container.

UWP games on the Windows 10 Store often have Xbox Live integration for achievements, save syncing, and occasionally, Xbox Play Anywhere (XPA) cross-purchasing. This is a godsend for those with gaming PCs who also game on console. I can now take my Razer Blade and fire up Killer Instinct and play from anywhere, with my characters and progression syncing over the internet. It just works.

And this is generally how I feel about core UWP games on the Windows 10 Store, it should be there to support Xbox and perhaps target more casual PC gamers who don't want to mess around with config files or settings, or go hunting through forums to solve hardware-specific problems. We just want our games to work as soon as they're downloaded, and that's what the console experience offers in a way Win32 PC gaming all-too-often doesn't.

I can now take my Razer Blade and fire up Killer Instinct and play from anywhere, with my characters and progression syncing over the internet. It just works.

By going after a console / casual gamer audience, Microsoft won't need to gun for the hardcore PC gamer who is deeply invested in Steam, its community, and its modding capabilities. Instead, Microsoft can offer an alternative Xbox-like experience on PC — "Xbox for PC."

There are already a few popular third-party games on the Windows 10 Store that support XPA cross-purchasing and Xbox integration built for UWP. Resident Evil 7 has to be the best example here, of a game that is supremely well-optimized for PC, yet can carry save progress across Xboxes and PCs tied to your Gamertag with zero effort. Naturally, the vast majority of Microsoft's first-party line-up supports XPA as well, including Gears of War 4 and Halo Wars 2, with future games in tow. It's great when it's available, but sadly, Microsoft seems to be struggling to get third-party games on board.

Razer Blade 14: Xbox Play Anywhere's best friend.

Cities: Skylines is an incredible city-building simulator game for Xbox One and Steam, and it's also available on the Windows 10 Store. However, despite Cities: Skylines supporting Xbox Live cross-save features, in order to get them, you'll need to buy the game twice. Considering the Cities: Skylines Windows 10 Store version is objectively inferior to its Steam counterpart due to fewer gameplay features while costing the same price, you have to wonder "where's the value"?

Despite Cities: Skylines supporting Xbox Live cross-save features, in order to get them, you'll need to buy the game twice.

There's a conflict between adding Xbox Play Anywhere, and matching Steam on price. An Xbox Play Anywhere game, naturally, will only support one price point, and console versions are typically more expensive than PC games due to the scale of both ecosystems and various other factors. For Cities: Skylines on Windows 10 to "compete" with the Steam version, naturally they have to at least match on price, but since they don't match on features, you could argue that the Windows 10 Store version should be even cheaper.

Instead of trying to compete with Steam, I think Microsoft should simply impress that the Windows 10 Store is designed around consistency and support of the Xbox ecosystem. Make all Windows 10 Store UWP PC games Xbox Play Anywhere. If that means Cities: Skylines on the Windows 10 Store is more expensive so that it can match the console version, so be it. It will get a feature that Steam cannot match in the form of Xbox Play Anywhere — two versions of the game that communicate across platforms. They could even throw in an extra option, "add Xbox Play Anywhere" via a drop down menu that brings it in-line with the console price. This way, Cities: Skylines UWP offers an alternative experience, rather than a weaker one.

Xbox is synonymous with console gaming, so if it is Microsoft's intention to use that brand on Windows, it should bring the "console" experience along with it. Microsoft should let Steam keep the hardcore crowd and continue supporting Win32, while gunning after a different audience that Steam frankly doesn't serve all that well — casual gamers and console gamers, who might have the interest and resources to pick up a gaming PC.

With "Xbox for PC," you won't have to worry if your Xbox peripherals will work with the game; they just will, as it'll be a requirement for Xbox integration. You won't have to worry about whether a game will run properly because it'll have gone through Xbox's certification processes. You won't have to worry about inconsistent menus and features because the game will run in a UWP container that functions like any other window. Simple and secure Xbox-like installs and uninstalls, that don't interfere with the registry.

In closing

The strategy for Microsoft's UWP gaming efforts have been a little unclear from the outset, and seem to follow an "if we build it, they will come" mentality that hasn't really seen the platform pick up much in the way of meaningful traction across the board. Just like with Windows 10 Mobile and Surface, Microsoft's late entry into the market calls for them to do something unique, rather than take the competition head on.

Microsoft's late entry into the market calls for them to do something unique, rather than take the competition head on.

Microsoft should champion a new "Xbox on PC" initiative that sees any and all games with "Xbox" branding on the Windows 10 Store follow the same feature set, saving on confusion and inconsistency, while giving users a genuinely alternative way to experience gaming on PC that also compliments Xbox. If a newbie gamer on a cheaper, Windows 10 S-based PC eventually decides they want to go Pro, they'll have that option to upgrade and experience the freedom and power of Steam. If they are, however, like me, and simply want something consistent and convenient that fits snugly into a busy lifestyle, sticking with Xbox and UWP should prove the better option. But only if those features (and games) are actually there.

There are problems with my suggestion for sure, and I'm oversimplifying some aspects of it for the sake of brevity. But even if focusing on XPA as the selling point for the Windows 10 Store results in a smaller potential userbase, at least it will have the opportunity to build a userbase at all. Gunning for Steam is only going to create more situations like the one we've seen with Cities: Skylines, and last year's Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare fiasco, where the PC version couldn't communicate with Xbox OR Steam, creating a dead multiplayer community. That shouldn't be allowed to happen on any "Xbox Live" branded game, particularly as Microsoft is attempting to justify the platform's existence with the core PC crowd.

We're getting there, slowly but surely.

We're getting there, slowly but surely.

Microsoft has certainly improved UWP and the Windows 10 Store in a huge way over the past couple of years, but now it's time to pick a strategy and run with it, whether it's something more akin to my suggestions, or something more aggressively aligned against Steam. At the moment, the Windows 10 Store looks like "Steam Lite," with far fewer features, and far fewer games. In a world where Windows 10 will get perpetual free updates "as a service," with no intentions for a "Windows 11," selling software through the Windows 10 Store is becoming increasingly essential. Windows can't really afford for the Windows 10 Store to fail. And it needn't.

For those with capable PC hardware, Microsoft has the power to offer something different — and good.

What do you think? Should Microsoft take Steam head on with aggressive price matching? Or create an ecosystem that functions consistently across Xbox and PC? Or perhaps you think they should do something else entirely — sound off in the comments section!

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • Jez, any reason why we can't purchase games on the mobile store? The buy button is deactivated and it bothers me a lot.
  • Not sure, might just be an oversight.
  • As a gamer who likes strategy, sRPG, tRPG, and simulation (managerial/city/economic) games the Windows store is wholly underwhelming. I detest Steam too and usually use GOG when possible, but Windows store will go nowhere until the variety improves from a few marquee racing, FPS games and microtransaction crapware. Everspace, Astroneer, and Abzu were a few exceptions.
  • Agree 100%.
  • Not having Civilization available on Xbox is what keeps me from buying one. The One X is compelling but it's that one franchise that's keeps me away.
  • Is cheating possible with the Windows Store?
    Because some Steam games are overrun by cheaters.
  • Latest Fast Ring actually has the groundwork for an anti-cheating system for Windows Store games, which is coming later on.
  • so it's possible to cheat? I always thought you need the direct contact to the files.
  • Changing game files is not a good option for cheating as it is easily detected. Many decent cheats instead runs in memory alongside the game, where it is much harder to detect.
  • Yeah, a good article and I've been thinking the same ever since Xbox on Windows was shown off. They can carve out a corner by doing what Valve/Steam does not Keep curating, don't go anything goes like Steam Retain ease of use Make sure older titles don't fall by the wayside, Steam is filled with games even AAA titles from years ago that are outright broken. Cater to AMD technology like Freesync 2 HDR by integrating it into Xbox PC and console titles, Steam is dominated by Nvdia GPU's and devs cater to Nvidia features not AMD.  Promote Xbox PC titles running on Arm hardware, the Win Store can deliver native Arm UWP games, gets devs to include a "mobile" grahics preset on Xbox PC games so Arm users can play the game (multi-platform Nintendo Switch games will have most of this work already done). More Xbox Play Anywhere titles. Act as the brdige between other platforms, the cross play with Nintendo is a great idea.   There is no point competing against Steam directly it's a battle MS can never win, too many game journalists, users, fanboys are all deeply attached to Steam no matter how good or bad it is.
  • Agreed.
  • They need "Play Anywhere" Title section in Store.
  • I think they will; issue is right now there are so few titles, it would look more embarrassing than a feature at this stage.
  • I think they should compete with Steam but focus on high-quality Xbox achievement games, also more Play-Anywhere titles. Steam has tons of great games but millions of crap-ware titles. Microsoft has to compete to maintain relevancy. 
  • different? No - what they need to do is stop being inept in how they present the model they already have. Windows 10 is a cluster**** in this area. If I buy a game, I want to be able to play it and not have licensing errors based on which system update doesn't jive with the current version of the game and sometimes wait a week or more for it. I want DLC I buy to effortlessly download rather than have to hunt for it through my purchase history as new content for my season pass comes out. I want people to be able to play on the Xbox Live platform without needing tech expertise in fixing their stupid Teredo protocols. I want a degree of quality control - especially if my paid membership carries over from Xbox - They did something different which was achievements and they screw that up too with games like Dead Rising or Tomb Raider get bugged achievements that never get fixed or remedied to the customer and MS is pushing cross-platform on consoles but if you buy a game on Windows 10 you're screwed when it comes to multiplayer
  • You should post this on the feedback hub
  • If they expect the Store to fill up with more quality games, one of the best ways to attract the game developers is to reduce or eliminate the 30% fee, even temporarily.
  • Yep.
  • They should've been doing that. I don't know why they can get that with such a small store.
  • This is beating a dead horse by this point, but releasing Halo: MCC and Halo 5 for PC in the Store would get more than a few eyeballs. 
  • Agree 100% with you Jez
  • I like "Xbox on PC", there is something Steam can not offer, if tomorrow you buy a console you do not have to pay again for the games. Microsoft needs to push developers to take their games and unify the "Xbox catalog" with Play Anywhere.
  • Microsoft Store lock you out from games that your spec do not meet the system requiments despite the fact that they are ways to run them
  • If EA can pull off Origin, Microsoft can definitely compete with the Windows Store. Microsoft just needs to get their act together.
  • Ea can pull off origin because it's not limited to only being used on one os and the user isn't forced into dumbing-down everything by downgrading to windows 10.
  • Just buy Steam and be done. Then you can shut it down two weeks later and give your board members big bonuses and declare everything a success.
  • I think a lot of people play different games on on PC. Be it EA, GOG, STEAM, Uplay, etc. So, don't see an issue with "Xbox On PC." I think that would work fine. Just keep updating that Xbox PC app to make it a bit more controller friendly. Also, as others have stated, make the games XPA and cross-play compatible. Gears 4 has done a terrific job at this as has KI.
  • I was excited when I first saw news of Cities: Skylines coming to the Windows Store since I don't like Steam.  That was until I realised that the only official DLC you can use with the Store version is After Dark, and also that this version can't use any of the third-party mods either.  I was left wondering "What the hell is the point?"  Since Microsoft can unify Minecraft across all platforms (sans PS!) around a single online marketplace, it surely must be possible?  Until Paradox Interactive figure this out, I don't feel inclined to purchase a copy of Cities: Skylines on any platform...
  • "focusing specifically on games designed for mouse and keyboard first." For an OS designed for mobile touch first.
  • You certainly can't mean Windows 10, which hobbled most of the touch-friendly features of Windows 8. It's slowly getting back there, but still not where it should be.
  • It should surpass the steam platform!
  • Microsoft has lost their identity. Upper most management needs to step down. Over the last 4 months I've switched to an Android phone, and now looking into Kodi and Plex for DVR. That's my struggle right now finding a DVR ability for live TV with 4 tuners. My Ceton infiniTV4 might be on the fritz. Also a few days ago I no longer get HD channel guide info on WMC on Windows 7. Out with the old and in with the new I guess. Oh and I now also own an iPad and Macbook Pro.
  • Obviously MSFT does well to have microsoft studios writing play anywhere titles for xbox and PC. Those are very console like titles, and big sellers that I don't think anyone wants to mod. The problem with some of the early ones, was porting issues with AMD graphics cards. That needs to be NAILED. You can't have problems like they did with quantum break. So there's that. The other game house that has some representation, that it would be good to see a lot more of, is square enix. From rise of the tomb raider, to the full UWP Go series, everything they have done in the store is golden for what the store wants to be. I even played leo's fortune on my PC the other day - it saves my activity from my phone, and PC, so i continue where I left off from the other. For simple, Go series style games, which are also a thing steam is lacking, that "just works" quality is brilliant.  I think it's really just a matter of microsoft studios continuing to band out play anywhere titles, until there is such a volume that the store at least appeals to xbox users. Its a two year old platform, and the primary issue it faces ESPECIALLY with gamers, is just getting people in the door. If 30 percen of users get apps from the store, even less get games.  This is why its great to see that build up slowly happen. Hopefully we get even more titles with windows s, and even more full UWP with windows on arm (where playing games under emulation is going to be absolutely aweful).   I agree though with the console like thing. Games that are mobile style simple, or console style 'download and play', third person titles and so on, there's a mainstream market that steam is not geared to. Just installing and navigating steam is a kind of a PITA, let alone figuring out what games support what etc.     We do already get the odd third party title, like for example, the fantastic RPG wasteland 2 definitive edition. But I think we are still at the seed stage, for full desktop grade games,  and its great that MS studios is doing that work.  
  • Another thing I'd love to see is FFXIV from SE going to the store as an Xbox Play Anywhere title. SE have already said they're willing to release for Xbox so long as they're not forced to add Xbox exclusive servers (it's an MMORPG so that'd be a horrible idea) and Microsoft waive the Live Gold requirement for it (Microsoft servers would only be used for licencing purposes before you go to SE servers for playing the game. Same with PS4 so the PS+ requirement is waived)
  • Gaming is a big market. PC users don't buy a software any more, except for MS Office and games. That's why Windows Store is struggling. The developers don't come to an unprofitable place. I don't know MS already gave up that market.
  • I share exactly your vision, and it's funny because I had the same discusion with a friend just 1 hour before your publication.
  • One thing they need to improve if going with the whole Xbox to PC thing is controller support, more specifically wheel support in racing games. In win32 games you can use any wheel, officially supported or not, and it will most likely work, maybe without a preset, but you can usually set up the wheel anyway.
    In something like Forza Apex only a handful of dev chosen wheels work with the game and if you're wheel is not on the list, it won't even be detected by the game.
    I think it was something to do with UWP not supporting dinput devices, so that's what they need to improve
  • I agree that the store should become more than just another Steam, but they should look at how Steam presents its content. The Windows Store is still a bit of a mess, things like layout and the way you search for apps/games or even the way Steam presents new stuff for its users. The Windows store occasionaly changes the front page apps, but most times it is the same for months. If they want more developers and their apps they should make app visibility a priority, make lists that advertise the apps and have a system in place that knows you and your interests and show content that you want to see. Not an unpersonal general storefront that they have now. A good example I think is Origin, everyone hated it when it was launched and for good reason. Origin was definitely no Steam in the beginning, but nowadays it is actually not that bad especially since they improved they way they show content. The Windows Store looks to much at Google Play and Apples digital stores, which is good for mobile devices but not so for PC's. I do like the crossgaming thing with Xbox, that is the only thing that it sets itself apart from other stores.
  • Just make it link to companies.i.e activsion, Indi games, ubi soft etc.
  • If Microsoft wants the Windows 10 Store to take off: 1. Stop gifting away your exclusive IP to your biggest competitor (all that does is take away one of the only incentives Steam gamers have for checking out the Windows 10 Store--and, sadly, at this point the damage has already been done, as the precedent has been set for Steam gamers to just shrug off Microsoft Studios' games in the Windows 10 Store because "I'll just wait for the Steam release") 2. Bring the Xbox 360 library to the Windows 10 Store (yes, I understand that would be an engineering feat, but if there is any software company that has the programming acumen to do it, it's Microsoft). 3. Truly make the Windows 10 Store universal (i.e. every game should automatically have Play Anywhere status because it should be considered the same platform: Windows 10; it's too late to dictate this to publishers, unfortunately, and they missed an opportunity to make it so with the launch of Xbox One X, but then they should heavily incentivize publlishers to adopt Play Anywhere).
  • I completely agree with you....for 2nd point. Infact, I think I have tweeted phil Spencer to bring x360 exclusives to pc (gears & halo seeies).
    I don't know how will they implement your 3rd point....
    But yess...they should let us install any windows app from anywhere to any other device. Example - I want to install gears of war 4 on my pc....I just visit windows store in my phone (or Xbox or any device) bring up gears of war 4 page & select the option to install it on my pc.
    Same goes for whatsapp (I can visit store on pc/Xbox, open the whatsapp page & select to install it on my phone.
  • One of the problems I see with your idea is that you expect the store games to be a console/casual experience. hassle free install and play. however.... pc gaming itself is full of hassle. sure you can make the process easy by installing it from the windows store. can you use the windows store to build your pc? if you don't have the time to deal with win32 glitches and errors, do you think you have the time to be researching rams and gpus? none of the aaa xbox games will run on a CASUAL/COSOLE GAMER'S pc. you need a proper rig for that, especially seeing how crappy microsoft's first party games perform on pc. people who wanna play games casually have their console. people who want to casually play games in their busy life don't have a gaming rig. people who will spend time to build gaming rigs have time to fix a few win32 game issues too.
  • On a serious note, one thing MS can do for any game (may be starting with first party exclusives) is differentiate a game with single player & multi player contents & hence difference in pricing & size. example - I personally play any game only for single player campaign. but still when I download a game its multi player assets are also downloaded. & update is shown in win store for the game when an update is there for MP.
    MS can provide same game with different contents sp & mp. & hence if I have a game with single player only, it should update only when a single player version update is available.
    & price them differently as well.....or let us decide the contents we want to download (whether only single player or both single player & multiplayer with maps & whatever they are)
  • This is kind of like Nascar; You have the App Store and Google Play store going to win the race with crap games because they are drafting each other single file while Microsoft Store and Steam with AAA games are holding each other back as they try to pass one another.  UWP has come to Steam or UWP has to be dropped as a platform completely.  The longer Microsoft waits, they further back windows will go taking steam with it.  It's racing 101.  What game developer is stupid enough to pick UWP knowing that the title can't be sold on Steam?
  • Jez, everything you wrote here is so spot-on, it's like I could've written it myself (only not nearly as well).
  • I like the idea of a more console-like experience on PC. But the diversity of hardware and mix of touch, controller and keyboard capable games makes it hard for novice or casual would-be gamers. The store should be able to benchmark your PC performance and allow you to filter out games that will not run well. There should be another filter to select games by input type. Have a Surface 3? You'll see more mobile-like touch friendly UWP games. Have a desktop with a controller attached? The store will expose more powerful games that offer keyboard and/or controller support, but no touch based games.
  • Microsoft needs to bang the drum for the Islandwood Bridge and bring over a bunch of iOS games.
  • Great article Jez. I agree with most of it, but your theory has a huge flaw: a pc isn't a console with fixed hardware and a gaming-related OS. Lots of the hardware and software problems that Steam users have, are also occurring with UWP games. Maybe not as frequent than with win32 games, but it still happens. Microsofts certification also doesn't mean that the game will run fine on your system. Look at Forza Horizon 3: it took the devs months to get an acceptable performance, and there are still plenty of pc-gamers with performance issues and crashes. So in the end, the Windows Store offers games with less features and higher prices than the same games on Steam, and hardware and software issues will still happen. For pc-gamers that don't have an Xbox (and I guess that's most of them, especially in Europe), there's really no reason to prefer the Windows Store over Steam.
  • Microsoft should partnership with Humble Bundle to do some strong Store Bundle with a lot of stuff for 1$. It will force even psychic haters, to use Store.
  • For me to use the MS Store they just need to do one thing: Bring the Steam Workshop (e.g. working like Edge Addons).