With Windows Mixed Reality and Xbox Play Anywhere, do you really need a console?
My laptop just became my go-to Xbox?
October is usually one of the busiest months of the year for me. I'm only home a couple of days out of the month, and I don't get to spend nearly enough of that time relaxing with an Xbox controller in my hand. Things are different this time around though, because Cuphead is an Xbox Play Anywhere app. That means I can play a full Xbox One game on my Razer Blade while flying across the country, and I did. In fact, I've played this particular game exclusively on my laptop and it has been awesome.
So, remind me, why do I need an Xbox again?
Microsoft where you are, the best plan ever
I don't plan to strut around spouting nonsense about the Glorious PC Gaming Master Race anytime soon, because I know better. Don't tell anyone this, but the thing that makes the Xbox special is not the hardware. Xbox Live is the most successful online social and gaming platform to date, and it continues to grow for a good reason. Microsoft works hard to keep the system fresh with new features and it's ridiculously stable when compared to the competing service on the PlayStation.
That's why Microsoft's Xbox Play Anywhere plan is more than just porting games to the PC. It's an entire ecosystem play, one that is a familiar part of the Microsoft strategy now. You don't just get the game when you fire up Cuphead on the PC, you get the entire Xbox experience. I am signed in to Xbox Live, notified of incoming messages, and can see what all of my friends are doing as though I were on my Xbox. Of course, achievements are here as well, because it wouldn't be an Xbox game without them.
Microsoft's strategy to bring its entire ecosystem to where you are, even if that place isn't the thing it was originally intended, is fantastic. It's why there's a full Office suite on the iPad, and it makes a huge difference when it comes to how often I'm able to play games with my friends. It's also very early days right now, with precious few Xbox games actually wearing the Play Anywhere pin, but as a start it's more than a little impressive.
Adding in Mixed Reality
Sadly, it's going to be a little while before Windows Mixed Reality comes to the Xbox. Microsoft has said it is coming in the future, but probably not in the form we know it right now. There are likely several reasons for this, but the biggest reason according to Microsoft is a desire to have a Mixed Reality experience in the living room that isn't burdened by wires. It only takes getting your foot tangled in a cord while playing a VR game once to understand why this is a good thing, even if it means a considerable delay for Xbox VR.
Fortunately for PC owners, Windows Mixed Reality will soon be here and it's already shaping up to be a great experience. There's a healthy mix of games at launch with Steam VR games on the way as well, and if you have a laptop capable of powering the experience you can have portable VR in a way none of Microsoft's competitors can currently pull off. It may not be your default way to game for a while, but it's an incredibly compelling option to have.
But it's still a PC
I'm only able to consider this as a viable option for the future because Microsoft directly encouraged me to behave this way. And that is to Microsoft's credit, this is largely a good thing. It's not necessarily something I would recommend to everyone. Hardcore gamers are still going to find the most games on the actual Xbox for the foreseeable future, and maintaining a PC will always be more work than firing up an Xbox.
At the end of the day, however, this is an option well worth considering. If you already have your PC glued to you for most of the day, adding in a Bluetooth Xbox controller and installing your favorite games just makes sense. It's not hard to see people becoming so comfortable with this option that owning an Xbox becomes unnecessary. In a way, that's an exciting thing for Microsoft to have successfully pulled off.
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Russell is a tech nerd who chases the best of everything, from phones to game consoles to laptops and everything glowing or beeping. He's the Managing Editor of gaming content for Mobile Nations and can be found contributing to all of the Mobile Nations sites. Reach out on Twitter!