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Xbox Play Anywhere will finally turn me into a PC gamer

Among all the hardware and hot game news from E3 this past week in LA, Microsoft finally offered some clearer direction on the "buy once, play anywhere" feature that'll be available across Xbox and Windows 10.

Xbox Play Anywhere is the realization of that dream, and while it's initially going to be restricted to first-party published titles, it's an exciting glimpse of the future of Xbox gaming.

It's also what's finally going to make me really care about playing games on my PC.

Steam

I have a somewhat capable gaming PC at the moment; An Alienware X51 (opens in new tab) with a quad-core Core i5, 16GB of RAM and a GTX 960 graphics card. It's my daily workhorse and it can also give me a decent experience playing things like Forza 6: Apex at 1080p on high settings. I'm happy with it, but I'm also not much of a PC gamer.

My Steam library is full of things I've bought in various sales and mostly never started. Older titles, newer ones, there's no real pattern. I even have a bunch I've picked up on DVD for stupidly cheap. All still remain untouched.

Given the choice, I'd still take a title on Xbox One over the PC every time

Part of it is that I just don't have the time, and when I am in front of my PC I'm usually working. The other part is that I've been a console gamer since I was 8 years old (23 years ago for anyone curious), and it's basically all I've ever known. The games I want to play the most are on console and I'm way more comfortable with a controller than a keyboard and mouse.

It's not that black and white, but given a choice of a title like Overwatch, I'm still playing on Xbox. I've more chance of playing there with friends, and Xbox Live is a system I trust and understand.

Xbox Play Anywhere brings all that to the PC, and without the necessity to have two different versions of the same game with different progress in both. That's an amazing feature, and convenience, to have at your disposal.

I don't travel as much as I used to, but when I visit relatives at the other end of the country, I leave my Xbox behind. With a capable laptop I can now take those very same games with me on the road, pick up where I left off and still play with friends and get those achievements.

Xbox One S

Continuity is a big part of the Windows 10 experience for Microsoft across the ecosystem. We've already seen it with Continuum and the UWP for apps, and now it's finally coming to Xbox across console and Windows 10. There's a lot more still to do, mainly getting third-party publishers to embrace it.

That's where it'll ultimately become a big success or just another cool, but niche feature. EA and Microsoft has a great thing going on, but on the PC you have Origin. So does that mean a future where we've no chance of Play Anywhere coming with Battlefield 1 or Mass Effect Andromeda?

Continuity is a big part of the Windows 10 experience, now on Xbox, too

It'd be foolish to assume Microsoft isn't working behind the scenes on making this key platform feature as strong as it can, but until we see the results, it still leaves a cloud hanging over it.

As for me, though, I'm now convinced I'll care more about utilizing the PC to enhance my gaming experience. With a decent laptop I can take my Gears of War 4 experience on the road with me rather than leaving it behind on either my Xbox One or my desktop PC. That's a huge deal, and one I hope that Microsoft can leverage still further.

I enjoy gaming, I enjoy consoles, and I enjoy Xbox. That I'll be able to do that wherever I am in the future gives me nothing but happy feels. And if you've got your own thoughts on Xbox Play Anywhere, be sure to share them with us in the comments below!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

92 Comments
  • This "Master Race" terminology needs to die in a fire.
  • you do realize there's no "gaming" without pc?
  • I'm not talking about PC gaming I'm talking about the stupidity of calling it "Master Race."
  • +1 to this. I don't care where you game, but let's try not to use **** terminology to insult people who play differently. Edit: Interesting, starred that out. Probably a good policy. Anyway, if it isn't clear, I was referring to a certain movement in Germany in the 30's and 40's that included killing millions of people and a world war.
  • I read that in Peter griffins voice for some reason.. It sounds like something he would say..
  • gaming was made popular by consoles so idk what ur talking about. if anything, consoles are the master race unless you go based off number of users. in that case, mobile is the master race
  • I guess I'm old then because arcades and personal computers came out way before consoles like the Atari. Even programmed a few games on the old Odyssey II and Coleco ADAM. But I had said since Windows Phone 8.1 that the end game would be to be able to play across all viable formats.
  • yeah but consoles grew the gaming industry and made it affordable for all.
  • @PorscheRacer14, I'm not sure that's right, or at least it depends what you consider commercially relevant. The first home computer that sold in any numbers was the Apple ][+, which came out in 1979 (which quickly defeated the concurrently released Atari 800 personal computer). Before that, the only real computer was the original TRS-80, in 1977, which was much more a hobbyist-only computer. But the Atari 2600/VCS also came out in 1977. I recall having same weird triangular console game system when I was a kid (it had a steering wheel on one side, a light gun on another, and paddle connectors and controls on the third), which might have come out before the Atari, but I can't remember its name don't know anyone else who had one. That said, there certainly has long been vibrant computer-only game development. From the original Wizardry and Ultima games only on Apple, to similar games on Apple and Commodore 64, to the later emergence of all of the PC-only then Windows-only games.
  • You realize there wouldn't be PC gaming without console gaming? Console game sales fund PC gaming. Publishers make the most sales on consoles. The reason why pc version sometimes come out later. Thank piracy.
  • Games are developed on PC still, so the original comment was correct.
  • Top selling game is Tetris for mobile phones and second most is the PC version of Minecraft. I've played consoles and even owned two, but I've generally gravitated to PCs because that's what I'm into. I'm just happy that now, all forms of gaming are starting to converge which opens up greater possibilities for all. I have lots of friends on Xbox Live and it would be cool to play with them on there with my PC.
  • We never use it seriously. I happen to think it's ridiculous. We like to have fun.
  • I think his point is that there was nothing fun about the Holocaust and so it is asinine that PC gamers have coopted such an offensive term to try to assert their make-believe superiority.
  • It isn't make believe. PC is far superior in frame rate and resolution. You can do far more with a PC. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Exactly... and connects to a "big screen" just as easily as a console. 
  • Xbox is now also part of the master race
  • Can you earn achievements if you buy a game for PC that is Xbox Anywhere?
  • yes
  • We've had xbox achievements for ages on PC
  • Ok. None of the games I've played on PC awarded Xbox achievements, which is why I asked.
  • Needs Xbox Live integration. They're usually well advertised in the Windows Store
  • Also GFWL. Stuff like Microsoft Flight, GTAIV, FUEL, Dirt 3...
  • And a heap of the mobile games from windows phone 7 and up.
  • You from NZ? Never heard people from anywhere else use "heap" that way :P.
  • I agree, I couldn't be more excited about this feature. I'm of similar age (35) but didn't grow up in a household with gaming consoles. I gamed on the PC almost exclusively (sure I went to my friends' houses to get my Mario Kart fix), but in the last decade have really embraced XBox Live and the XBox 360 / One to keep in touch with friends across the country as we've spread out to start our lives. The simplicity of the multiplayer experience and the ability to game without constantly tweaking drivers and settings makes it a perfect system for those of us with little free time. After all, if I only have a few hours to game each week, I want to spend them gaming! But at the same time, there are occassions where I don't want to fire up the TV, or would prefer to use a different input set, or would just like to see it in higher fidelity, where the ability to launch the same game from the same game load makes perfect sense. I'm already enjoying this feature with Quantum Break and look forward to it with future releases.
  • I'm just the opposite... own an Xbox One, but have realized I pretty much never play it. Would much rather play at my PC.
  • Yeah, same here, MMOs and MOBAs draw me more to my PC
  •   I don't own an Xbox. In fact, I haven't owned a gaming console since the Super Nintendo... and I don't plan on buying a console anytime soon. I'll always be a PC gamer! And I have plenty of Steam friends and achievements to play multiplayer games with.  Keyboard and mouse FTW!  
  • So when the Xbox supports keyboard and mouse where will you stand then? Also given that Steam has big picture mode and it's own controller essentially making it a console choosing your platform based on a specific form factor seems to be increasingly irrelevant.
  • When the keyboard and mouse support comes to consoles, then yes, I'll buy one. I'm sure it'll happen at least by the time the Project Scorpio comes around... which is pretty much a gaming PC in a console's case. What I do now is connect my gaming PC to the big screen in the living room, and enjoy better than console graphics and performance with keyboard and mouse support. I tried that Steam "Big Picture" thing one time... and was like "yikes"! Exited out of it real quick... lol yeah, it's not for me.
  • I prefer Keyboard/mouse unless I'm playing a platform fighting game. Then I resort to my trusty GameCube controller!
  • I have an Xbox 360 (Afterglow) controller for some of my PC games, like platformers and side scrollers that works well. For my FPS games though, it's keyboard and mouse all the way! 
  • I get it, but even if you much rather play at your PC, why is Play-Anywhere of any concern to you playing habits? For example you buy the game, use it in your Desktop PC and are able to take with you on your laptop! Not much difference from the article's case!
  • Uh, the scenario you just described can already be done, it doesn't require xbox play anywhere at all.
  • It does if you want to play Xbox exclusives, I mean, you might be a PC "master race". But be honest, some Xbox exclusives are worth it.
  • Thing is, they might not be good, they might be too easy to play with kb+m. There are a lot of factors. Plus, I guess someone who wanted to play Xbox exclusives had already bought one. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • What? Going from desktop to laptop can already be done, his comment had nothing to do with Xbox exclusives      
  • Yeah my xbox one is only used by me for Netflix, Hulu, and Blu-rays. I tried playing battlefield 4 with a controller and it felt way too awkward. Keyboard and mouse is way more natural for me.
  • This is what it's all about right here!  
  • I prefer PC as I find using a keyboard and mouse is just so much more precise and enjoyable.
  • I used to play my PC games with mouse and keyboard back in the day. But now find myself leaning completely on the controller side. Trying to play SW Battlefront on PC with a controller but without aim assist is ridiculously hard and I rarely play decently. On my Xbox One I play considerably well with aim assist on. So I hope we're just talking about unified game saves. If they are thinking about everything such as the online communities this could make things unfair for some. We'd have people on Xbox playing against people on PC with pimped out gamer keyboards and 10,000 DPI mice taking out guys from 5 miles away with ease. People on controllers won't stand a chance. So I hope they don't go that route.
  • its going to be up to devs. in most cross games you can choose whether you want to play against pc.
  • Skill based matchmaking, dude. It's a thing. Has been for a long time now. If people with M&K filter to the top of the ranks, that's fine, they'll just get matched against eachother. You'll still be playing against people who perform at a similar skill level to you. Yay for choices! If you stick with a controller, your experience won't be diminished in any way.
  • I might still not play on the PC often, but with a new GTX 960 on the way - mostly for video editing and multi-monitor support - and Xbox Play Anywhere, it's nice to know I have the option.
  • What?!??? You bought a GTX 960 now?!?!? I'm sorry, but what the heck were you thinking?!?!? Unless you bought it for less that $100, I'd see if there's anyway you can return it to whomever you purchased it from. The reason for this is we are right in the middle of the biggest leap in GPU tech in almost 5 years. AMD's new lineup comes out in a week, and for $200 you can get a GPU that's as fast, if not faster than a GTX 980!! (RX 480). For $150 you'll be able to get a card faster than a 970!! (RX 470). Lol now is the exactly WRONG time to be buying overpriced, 2 year old graphics cards.
  • I'll have to agree with this^^^ 
  • This is an awesome feature. I like both consoles and PC and being able to sync games across both is a nice feature. For someone like me who is pretty meh towards buying games digitally on console, it actually gives it some value.
  • I play about 50/50 between Xbox and PC. Battlefield and Driving games get the most attention on PC, although I generally play alone on PC, with friends I'll play on xbox. Fallout though, and other single player experiences usually I play on the xbox. I guess they're just nicer to play on the big screen with my feet up.
  • I play my PC games on my gaming PC.. on the big screen... With my feet up.
  • I'm in the same boat. I haven't played games on PC since the tine between n64 and original Xbox. Now with a gaming laptop i can have my Xbox on the go. Perfect next step from the xbox app streaming
  • It took Microsoft a very long time to realise they already had the largest gaming platform in the world with Windows PC. It's about time they took advantage of it.
  • I remember words like "commitment", "best place to play" and such when they launched GfWL and put price on online play. Went downwards from then. Especially after they killed Flight simulator and age of empires. Also, a lot of people who lost money when their game store vanished into oblivion. They'll have to do a lot to gain any sort of trust. But, hey, they've got money. :D
  • problem with pc gaming is this stupid fragmentation, its just ridiculous i buy a game on steam and have to also run ubisofts crap launcher and in-game overlay, now every damn company wants to have its walled garden and since most people are braindead consumers they help them do just that with every dollar paid
  • This is the benefit of the Windows Store. No crapware, easy installations and uninstallations.
  • I can easy install uninstall with gog galaxy, origin and steam. And I can choose where to install as well.
  • the Windows 10 Anniversary will allow you to choose where to install large apps (like games).  http://www.pcworld.com/article/3084931/windows/windows-10-preview-tweak-...  
  • Except you have to be online to install every time, that's why I love GoG.
  • That's part of drm, but, yeah. Love gog too. You can even download with galaxy and it'll still have installer there if you need it. :) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Finally. :) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Its not fragmentation to be honest. its not like you cant download an Assassins Creed game if you have Steam installed. You just have to have Uplay installed.
  • I find the idea really interesting, but I'm more of a console gamer. Would rather be able to fire up some of my steam games on the Xbox than the other way around, but still, awesome for those with massive gaming rigs xD And now I have one more reason to upgrade my GTX570, not only to get all my three monitors up and running xD
  • While it's a great idea, it will be much harder for Microsoft to establish. They had their chance years ago with gfwl. They never made use of it and lost a lot of trust from Gamers, publishers and developers. Today there is Steam, much stronger than ever. Other big Publishers have their own plattforms like EA Origin. They will have to proof that they are really behind it this time and offer updates and support for yeras before they could gain any significant traction in the market again
  • Well, looking how Tomb Raider was not updated with latest features that Microsoft published games got, they'll have to have something to make publishers use store. They have other, much more established, supported and trusted ones they use. But we can only wait and see.
  • We can now dream of crossbuy Xbox to Windows 10, Windows 10 store to Xbox, Origin to Xbox, Uplay to Xbox. If Microsoft manages to get it for a small share of revenue from EA and Ubisoft, that could be a huge revolution in gaming.
  • Sorry for double post but just Xbox integration in Origin and Uplay would be a big deal for achievements hunters
  • So, um, what's stopping you from hooking your pc to your TV or buying Steam link? I mean, that's the whole point of PC gaming - versatility. Or is it the Xbox live that is enticing, rather than games?
  • hmm well now he will be gettting the full features of xbox (comunities etc.) from the xbox windows app it would be great to add another mode to windows. Besides tablet mode to put a "console mode" where your pc can be operated only from your console  and the menu is like the xbox one which is like the xbox app and then you play like this!!!!!!!
  • oh, so, like I said - good for xbox gamers, but nothing in it for PC players. I don't think there's going to be "console mode". At least it has not been announced.
  • Well, Project Scorpio is basically going to be a gaming PC stuffed into a console style case that'll boot into an Xbox interface. So there's your gaming PC in "console mode". ;) To me, the Windows 10 start screen (even more so in "tablet mode") on the big screen, is great!  So, I think, essentially, if you have a newer gaming PC with a modern GPU (like a GTX 970 or newer), then you already have what the Project Scorpio is aiming to be... minus the "Xbox interface" that can easily be navigated with a controller.  Me personally, I'd rather have the Windows 10 desktop, and navigate with the keyboard and mouse. It's the same experience whether I'm connected to the big screen in the living room, or my 27" PC display in the bedroom.
  • Though it's tightly controlled PC which makes it console. ;) Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Many people aren't going to do that...just let it go.
  • Yeah, those who play on consoles. PC players have been doing it for a long time now. Then why game on PC then? Why not continue using xbox if you're playing with controller, don't need versatility and don't care for the greatest "backwards compatibility" there is? I mean, it's cheaper to just play on xbox then to buy a good gaming rig, isn't it?
  •   There's nothing stopping you! I do this all the time when I want my "living room gaming" and/or "big screen" fix. I simply wheel my gaming PC out to the living room, plug in the hdmi cable, and bam! Superior graphics and performance with keyboard and mouse support. I even have a well supported xbox 360 controller if I want an even more "console-like" experience.  Also, although I'd rather play with all my Steam friends and collect my achievements there personally, there's plenty of Windows titles (and more and more being released every day) that have full Xbox Live integration and achievement support.  IMO, the typical console gamer doesn't want to have to worry about all the upkeep on a PC. They'd rather just have a "plug and play" experience. I get it.. and that's fine for most people.   
  • A nice feature and make sense with the paradigm shift they've selected. It makes certain purchases (*cough* investments, as some would call them) easier to swallow. For younger people (i.e. my nephews) this is a great feature and I'm sure will be welcomed.  I'm all for more choice and options and if that means not having to buy the same game twice (if I was really hurting to play it on two different platforms), then that is fantastic. 
  • Welll something great EA could do now is make cross platform the fifa 17 for pc/xbox since microsoft already made the tools for any dev to utilize so it wont be like MS helping them on anything they just do it themselves :D!!!!!(or thats what i get)
  • Happy to have you join us... I came from the other side... been gaming on PC since the 286 and MS-DOS... I tried the xbox 360 when the elite came out with Wifi and HDMI... thought it would be great for home entertainment and then quickly fell in love with Xbox Live, Forza... etc... even though I took a graphics hit, I was still impressed how well everything worked and Kinect was fun... Now I have an X1 and enjoy Destiny and Forza on it... while I still love my GTX 970 PC for Witcher 3 and Fallout 4... I'm curious how well everything is going to go when I'm on Win10 and I'm playing Horizon 3 with people on X1... X1S... and Scorpio... exciting times... especially since I'll only have to pay once to play in the living room or the office. :)
  • good thing it will turn you into a PC gamer. Sounds more and more like Scorpio will be a 'surface PC' rather than a traditional console. Console gaming is dead, long live PC gaming!
  • I am with Richard on this. I will be getting an AMD 8370 and the Radeon Rx 480. For $400, I will have a decent PC to run all of those games at 1440p with minimal costs.
  • PC Master Race stay salty ya'll
  • Xbox one is the reason I'm slowly leaving steam. I've given enough money into Gabe's pocket. He hates the new direction of Windows because of this. He's afraid of losing costumers. VALVE has become too arrogant. And id rather Support Microsoft from here on out.
  • Support company that cares about customers even less and had steady steam of failed promise to support PC gaming? I mean, they'd closed store where people bought games with no refunds.
    Thing is, steam is at a point where it's leading platform and tries to do small changes that won't bring them down. I'm not defending valve, just stating my point of view. There seems to be change at Microsoft, but still they need to earn a lot of trust back.
  • Sometimes I really like having physical media, especially for my favorite games.   I'd like to see the Xbox anywhere set up so that us that buy physical media can also participate.  I never sell my games, I wish I could "bind them" to my account or something like that....
  • So how would this work with Steam games vs games bought through the app store? Would any PC game with the same title on the platform allow this no matter where it was bought from?
  • I like playing games on my XB1 when I can get near it, but I mostly use it as a media consumption device (Netflix, media streaming etc.,). When it comes to FPS then I am PC exclusive and my gaming rig blows the XB1 out of the water, to be fair that should be expected given how much I've spent on it! At least games on PC are way cheaper, especially from download key sites.
  •   Funny enough, I was looking at that exact gaming PC unit mentioned. In the end I went with a Cyberpower one, mostly due to its flexibility and most for better price.  The last couple of months I've been going smaller on the PC, thinking the console would do for gaming. But after E3, I've been looking to game on PC more than ever before. I think I've finally come to terms that PC gaming is where it's at for me.  If the future is digital, I want to be able to get the best bang for my dollar. Currently, besides my PC I have spent 0 dollars on gaming. I've been mostly playing a super smash bros ripoff.. Brawlhalla(free to play). I plan on buying a costume or something because I've already spent like 6 hours on that game, to help the Devs.  The mouse seems fantastic for aiming in shooters. However, that keyboard is killing me. I feel like it's gonna cripple my fingers. But if so many gamers game on it, it can't be that bad, I'd imagine.  Getting back to that bang for my dollar, Ubisoft is giving away a free game each month for the rest of the year, starting with Prince of Persia sands of time.  Also, thanks to you guys, I got Limbo for free, though I have already played and beat that game. I think EA gives you free games too, they were giving some game for free the other day.  As for Xbox play anywhere, the only Microsoft game I care about is Gears and that will be available on windows 10, so I'll get the best of both worlds. Oh and if you prefer the Dualshock 4, you'll get the best of three worlds as that works with PC as well. That'll be my Tekken Pad. In a way, it may be better than the Xbox controller as the touchpad acts as a mouse for easier couch gaming.   
  • I'm not a PC gamer but this Play Anywhere announcement has piqued my interest. I'm pretty sure I'll be replacing my 360 with an Xbox One S this year and I'd already budgeted money for a new PC. I will definitely look first for games that support this. Posted from my Nexus 5X
  • While I like the concept of Xbox Play Anywhere, it won't really hold any sway over me. I don't normally buy digital. The downloads are just too large and significantly eat into my ISP data cap. Downloading a game that is 30-40GB, or more, once is bad enough. Having to do it twice and one-third to half of my data usage is gone for the month. I routinely butt up against the data cap or go over. Downloading games like this will certainly push me over. The only time I buy digital is if the game is 10GB or less, which pretty much limits me, mostly, to the ID@Xbox titles. I've even turned off the instant on to prevent it from automatically downloading updates since I have so many games installed. I only install the updates when I intend to play a game. Like I said, I like the concept and I think it will work for some people, just not me. I also think it will really help develop the whole UWP program.
  • Well its given you some time to save up for one. A few months or to the game you want to play. I have to decide if I will update my computer or not.
  • Will my 1986 IBM portable computer support this?
  • I grew up with PC gaming (was hooked from PQ1), but find myself playing more and more on my phone. Having Origin or Steam on my phone is my dream. I don't even use a console or own a TV.
  • This