So I Gotta Rant: Microsoft's Losing Steam with PC Gaming
Microsoft Xbox Windows PC gaming rant Steam
Someone get me a sledgehammer.
Let’s start with a little background though – we all know and possibly love Steam, right? It’s a great service for buying digital PC games, since you can keep them all in one tidy library instead of having to remember where you bought what game if you need to retrieve a download link again. Sure, there are other services like Origin and GOG Galaxy, but the massive number of available games on Steam absolutely dwarfs the competition, from indies to AAA to everything in between, it’s almost all on Steam. Steam also has a large community that's usually willing to help resolve issues, so you don't have to wait for Valve to take your number. Isn’t it great to have such a wide variety of games new and old, and a thriving community supporting them, all in one easy place?
Apparently Microsoft doesn’t think so, at least, not anymore. Sure, if you have a look right now, you’ll see some Microsoft Studios published games such as Mark of the Ninja and Ori and the Blind Forest. But those are the last ones you’re likely to see with Microsoft’s new outlook, as part of their supposed commitment to delivering the same quality Xbox games to PC gamers. Why is that? Because Microsoft, in all their infinite wisdom, has decided that you had better be using Windows 10 and Windows 10 ONLY if you wanna play their newest games on PC, because they’ll only be available on the Windows 10 Store. Got Windows 7 and wanna play Quantum Break on PC? Tough cookies, sonny, you’d better upgrade that operating system or get yourself an Xbox One.
You didn't want this anyway, right?
So what the hell are they thinking? Locking their PC games to Windows 10 is no different than locking a game to Xbox One specifically, because you still need a specific system just to play the game. They are taking the console-exclusive approach and applying it to what should be a “free system” of sorts, where any range of machines with varying operating systems and configurations have access to the same games. Who does this benefit besides Microsoft? Absolutely no one, that’s who. It gets their newest OS in more hands so they can make the numbers look good, and having the games exclusive to the Windows Store means more money for Microsoft and no sharing with the likes of Valve. If you’re waiting on me to try and find a way this helps the consumer, you’re gonna be waiting a while. It means not being able to shop around for a good price. It means only having one "official" source of support if something goes wrong. And if you already hate having to use Origin for EA games, it means splitting your PC library up across different services even more. It's not even so much that games aren't available on Steam, though that is annoying. It's that they can't be played if you don't have one specific operating system, despite how almost every developer and publisher besides Microsoft (remember Halo 2's Vista-only compatibility?) optimizes their games for various versions of Windows, and sometimes other OSes like Mac or Linux.
Now, I’ll be fair and note that Windows 10 is technically free to upgrade to, and you can upgrade from Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, so there’s no real reason you can’t actually play the games that will come to Windows 10 Store if you’d like. Therein lies another problem, though – not everyone wants this “upgrade.” Some people are just fine and happy using an older version of Windows, and see no real reason to switch, even with the promise of being able to play stuff like Killer Instinct or Gears of War Ultimate Edition. Oh, and another problem? Since Windows 10 was developed and released after most currently available games came out and stopped being supported, there are a handful of games with compatibility issues ranging from save files disappearing to DRM not working (which you might notice means you can’t even play the game) to sound issues and more. How is that an upgrade if you’re already an avid PC gamer?
Notice how the light is on the outside of the window. You'll find only darkness within.
I’m willing to admit I’ve always been biased against Microsoft, and this is just another in a long line of missteps that keeps me snuggled in the arms of Sony and Nintendo. It doesn’t help much that I’m quite comfortable using Windows 7 and have no desire to change it if I don’t have to. But I don’t think I’m alone when I say that this new approach to PC gaming is a huge step back from the tried and true method of, you know, distributing PC games across various digital stores and optimizing them for use on different operating systems. It’s a step that only goes one way – in Microsoft’s direction. In their sudden rush to bridge the gap between Xbox and PC gaming, they ended up making them basically the same thing. I suppose no amount of complaining is realistically going to change their new stance on PC gaming though, and that stance boils down to “get Windows 10 or get bent.”
So anyway, there's my rant on how annoying it is that I won't be able to play Killer Instinct without an Xbox One or Windows 10. How do you feel about Microsoft's commitment to only releasing games on Windows 10? Maybe you don't care because you already upgraded to Win10, or maybe you don't care because you don't play PC games. Maybe you're just as annoyed as I am! Whatever the case, let me know how you feel in the comments!