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.
I have a somewhat capable gaming PC at the moment; An Alienware X51 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.
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.
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?
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!
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Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. 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 steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine