Return of the Not-Mac: MS’s PC Game Future

By Alec Meer on March 21st, 2011 at 10:44 am.

Why is the A in Are capitalised? It really bothers me

Much has been said, over the years, about how Microsoft plans to return to its home platform: the PC. While the fact it doesn’t own/control PCs as it does its Xboxes means it will never truly focus its game efforts this way, it seems reluctant to ever admit that. The last few years have seen several attempts to slip a pair of handcuffs around the PC’s ever-changing wrists in the form of the remarkably unlovely Games For Windows Live, but a ‘leaked’ internal video demonstrates that a new plan on the horizon.

The interest no longer seems to lie in dictating multiplayer and achievements, but instead on a newer type of PC gamer and on something called the Windows Gaming eXperience…

Hold that stream of invective you’re about to type. This video isn’t aimed at you, it isn’t intended to insult you and it isn’t a threat to your current gaming preferences or identity. It’s all horribly saccharine and mercenary, sure, but it’s not pitched as a replacement for PC gaming as we know it. This is in addition to what we have already.

What it is is an interesting demonstration of how and why Microsoft is likely to return its focus to the PC, despite the 360 being a success. There is untold money in them thar hills, primarily because the PC has in its favour that people don’t have to define themselves as gamers to buy/own one. When you buy a console, you are self-proclaiming yourself a gamer. On PC, it’s something that can happen by organic stealth – which is why the likes of Bejewelled and Farmville have done so well. The potential audience is huge. Of course Microsoft want to be involved in that, especially as Windows is in most cases the underlying platform for this new age of PC gaming.

The question is whether there’s anything in it for us as well as for the non-traditional gaming masses. If Microsoft can pull it off – by no means a given, going on the wretched history of GFWL – it means heightened developer/publisher interest in the platform, and that’s bound to lead to more stuff we enjoy (alongside all the microtransactions and farming games).

Of course, this is in many senses a purely theoretical video, without much in the way of hard tech promises, but it’s pretty clear Microsoft have suddenly worked up an appetite for being involved in PC gaming again. Hopefully they’ve learned the bloatware lessons of the past.

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208 Comments »

  1. Phoshi says:

    No.

    • Teddy Leach says:

      What he said.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, but he didn’t read the post.

    • Maxrmk says:

      I did.

      No.

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      I read it, twice, and I have to second his statement. No, M$ just no, you’ve ruined enough as it is.

    • Calneon says:

      Did you miss this paragraph on your two read-throughs?

      “This video isn’t aimed at you, it isn’t intended to insult you and it isn’t a threat to your current gaming preferences or identity. It’s all horribly saccharine and mercenary, sure, but it’s not pitched as a replacement for PC gaming as we know it. This is in addition to what we have already.”

    • 4026 says:

      Much as I understand the desire to avoid knee-jerk negativity in response to this, I still think your attempts to find something positive about this are reaching, Alec. It’s awful.

    • John P says:

      I do wish you weren’t so condescending to your readers, Alec. This video is indeed horrifying, and it would be very naive to think this won’t affect ‘us’ (whoever ‘we’ are). If Microsoft succeeds in its vision, those awful social networks games make us sign up for nowadays, like Bioware’s and their resultant ability to ban people from playing the games they’ve paid for, will be just the beginning. I, for one, absolutely loath that kind of consolidation and enforced social gaming, and Microsoft’s plans seem in direct opposition to my tastes and wants.

      So I agree: No.

    • Terragot says:

      This comments section was set up to express readers opinion on the subject matter. Alec, as a RPS writer I trust you to bring me your colourfully biased opinion on PC gaming news. But Once you put your work out here it no longer becomes yours, it becomes victim to our opinion and thoughts (hence the submit button reads Opinion, away!). Could you do me a personal favour and stop promoting the negative relationship you insist on building with your readers. You a good writer, but as of late seem to be forgetting the cynicism that flourishes throughout RPS.
      I want to be able to spread my dodgy, half-thought opinion throughout the web, it’s what the internet was made for.
      I’m all for positive thought, but I’m even more for freedom of speech, and as an exercise in this I’d like to agree and say NO to this entire article.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Relax. This is horrible, yes. But this is an internal video. This is for skittish business men who only see dollar signs and rubes. It’s an internal marketing tool. It’s not meant for the public.

      You can’t really explain good things to business people, they only care about profits and monetization. The purpose of this video is to sell the stockholders, investors, and other layabouts with shekel on the idea.

    • rivalin says:

      Did you miss this paragraph on your two read-throughs?

      Did you watch the video? there is a segment towards the end that makes it clear that their aim is to fold hardcore gamers into a system that is aimed at casual gaming middle aged women. I don’t want a gaming experience designed primarily for casual gamers and then foisted in me in a mildly botched/tweaked form, I want an experience that doesn’t see hardcore gaming as second fiddle, worthy of 20 seconds out of a three minute video., but that designs the experience from the ground up with the hardcore as its focus. Do you think for example there will be integration of mod support and acquisition in a platform like this? Of course there won’t.

      So no, this isn’t not aimed at the hardcore, there was a clear implication in this video that hardcore gamers would be subsumed into a system where they are only of peripheral rather than central importance, that is not a system I want to be part of. I’m not an avid hater of Microsoft, but when they come out with this utterly disingenuous, frankly rather creepy and soulless pr bull, it makes me like them less and less.

    • Milky1985 says:

      He might have read the main post but not the full post, how can i tell?

      He posted 2 minutes after the article was posted and the video is 3 minutes long so unless you are an expert at multitasking and can somehow speed up time not all the information has gone in!

    • Phoshi says:

      @Alec; I did read the post, however my reply is the same. No. Keep that stuff the hell away from gaming in general, never mind my little corner. It’s not designed for casual play, it’s designed to rip money out of you – they even go as far as to say that buying things enhances your experience!

      @Milky; I saw the video yesterday, those two minutes were reading RPS’ delicious words.

    • jonfitt says:

      I’m going to go with No also.

      They look to be trying to make money off someone else’s bandwagon (Facebook is the social platform for Farmville et al. the Mii cutesy avatar was popularised by Nintendo and importantly not monetised by Nintendo, and The Sims have been selling virtual junk for years).

      Nothing in that video looks remotely innovative, just predatory. They want to rope these together and if just one decent game gets burdened by this junk then our type of gamer will have lost out too.

    • omicron1 says:

      I see no “in addition” here. I see Microsoft gunning for big audiences with big money – and abandoning the “lesser” groups – AKA us.

      Point 1. We were already abandoned.
      The last game (other than their arcade system) Microsoft released on PC was in 2007. Four years ago! They completely abandoned us about the time the 360 became really profitable.

      Point 2. Their “new focus” on PC is completely casual.
      Look at the games they’re hawking: Age of Empires Online, Microsoft Flight, Fable 3. One thing they have in common: Casual focus. Not to mention their renewed interest in bringing Kinect to PC in an official capacity… I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see Kinectimals follow in its wake.

      Point 3. They’re money-hungry profit-seeking corporate suits.
      We should all know this – it’s Microsoft! They put out new versions of Windows and Office at a stunning $300 price tag with minor improvements every 2-4 years. They don’t care about anything, as a general rule, unless it makes them money. And I can’t imagine they haven’t noticed the Zynga train. Mark my words, if there’s money in it MS will be there sooner or later – but MS just doesn’t view the classic PC gaming audience as being a monetarily successful venture anymore.

      Summary: MS has abandoned us. Face it. They like their consoles, where they get licensing fees and graft, control over content and a captive audience. I see no reason to support them in this effort (and indeed a thousand reasons not to do so), so I am unlikely to render unto Caesar more than the equivalent value which Caesar renders unto me. That is all.

    • Tasloi says:

      “there was a clear implication in this video that hardcore gamers would be subsumed into a system where they are only of peripheral rather than central importance, that is not a system I want to be part of.”

      Pretty much, this seems like the vision for the next evolution of (GF)WL, most likely deeply integrated into Windows 8. Some of those leaked screenshots of Win 8 even support this. Thinking it will have no effect on core gamers or be easily avoidable is probably abit naive.

    • konrad_ha says:

      “No.” – That summed it up pretty well for me, thanks.

    • DestinedCruz says:

      Heh… P0wned.

    • Mut says:

      I’ll see your “No” and raise you a “Hell, no.”

    • Bilbo says:

      “No” is just the short answer. The long answer is “Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.”

    • Nameless1 says:

      I’d like to stress the concept further: http://img33.imageshack.us/img33/639/noooooo.gif

    • fearian says:

      This is like the polar opposite of the Snowcrash and Neuromancer view of the web. It’s like some Microsoft VP read the works of Cory Doctrow and stood up, announcing: ‘Over my cold and souless living body, nerds!’

    • MultiVaC says:

      @omicron,

      I wish Microsoft had abandoned us. That would be preferable to what their goals seem to actually be. They’ve spent the few past years trying to turn PC gaming into a shambling husk of itself by way of GFWL, their fortunately incompetent way of making a locked down system like Xbox Live. We would be better off if they had just given up. Why is that developers still insist on using GFWL, despite it having almost no redeeming features? Microsoft is still throwing their weight behind these miserable initiatives. They have nothing worthwhile to offer us, but they are still trying to shove it down our throats.

  2. Daniel Rivas says:

    I mistook the facebook status saying “lookin sassy” for “fookin sexy”. Bit forward, Microsoft.

    All made me feel a bit sick, though. Surely the people who play games on facebook—scum as they undoubtably are—deserve better than this nonsense?

    • Lost Trousers says:

      Hang on a sec guys, that game of Call of Duty will have to wait. My Idol Moms Group just paged me on farmville.

    • Hallgrim says:

      Maybe as people with years of gaming experience, who’ve watched the hobby change from good to bad and back again, we ought to:
      A) be excited that there are more people playing games regardless of their quality
      B) recognize that its much easier to get a non-gamer into gaming through facebook than steam
      C) feel a little sorry for them that they’re learning about games from predatory, manipulative games like Farmville

      … instead of being self-righteous pricks and calling them “scum”.

    • Richard Beer says:

      I’m in the middle of playing Assassin’s Creed: Legacy on Facebook. Am I scum?

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Totes.

      *checks his farmville cows*

    • skinlo says:

      I’d rather they didn’t have an interest in games and stopped playing them entirely, than they become semi interested and start using this crap.

  3. xeon06 says:

    That video, and Microsoft, and GFWL, is a fucking joke.

    “”Buying things enhances my gaming experience.”

    Yeah, ok, sure.

    • AndrewC says:

      Say that the next time there’s a steam sale.

    • Mr_Day says:

      Well, it worked for Valve.

      And facebook games which, from the looks of it, is what they are taking their cues from.

      Will it work? Depends on what it is supposed to do, though I suppose you use an MS frontend to get at facebook from the looks of it. Will that work? Unlikely, I reckon. Most casual gamers already have their focus for gaming – facebook – and are unlikely to drop it for Microsoft’s whatever the hell they are making just so they can spend real money on clothes for fake thems.

      It is far more likely that facebook would incorporate some form of avatar and related marketplace in the event people using their service are actually tempted by it.

      That is if my supposition is correct, mind.

    • Longrat says:

      There’s A LOT of money to be made by both facebook and microsoft should they cooperate with some sort of “alternate avatar” thing.

      Think about it, combining your facebook profile with a casual gaming profile. Using microsoft’s infrastructure for matchmaking, achievements and shit (edit: AND DLC), and facebook’s well built social network.

      It could be MASSIVE.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Disingenuous, Andrew. We both know perfectly well that Xeon’s use of ‘things’ did not extend to games themselves. ‘Buying games enhances my gaming experience’ is a bit of an axiom.

      Well, unless said games include [title of popularly ridiculed game]. Oh snap, [developer]!

    • AndrewC says:

      I’m arguing that the process of buying games in the Steam Sale – waiting for the daily sales update, comparing which games you bought with other forumites, comparing deals, planning purchases and so on – adds enjoyment and thus increases connection and loyalty to the Steam platform. We are ‘playing Steam’, and thus the process fulfills many of the same functions as avatars, outfits and all the rest on the Microsoft platform.

      The fit is not perfect and I am stretching – of course I am – but I am arguing the attitude of ‘I am a real gamer, not like those casuals with their pointless hats’ is equally as disingenuous.

    • xeon06 says:

      What I meant was DLCs and extra content.

    • Urael says:

      Can I add that Team Fortress 2′s obsession with items is a far more relevant to the original point? Through this game Valve have demonstrated that not only are gamers willing to accept internal item additions to their games, they positively lap them up. Can’t blame MS for looking at that and stroking their money-chins.

    • shoptroll says:

      MS already knew that gamers would lap up buying DLC long before Valve unleashed the Mann Co. store in TF2. Their 2005 GDC keynote made a huge point of this.

      http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/gdc-2005,review-15216-3.html

      Last paragraph.

    • Urael says:

      Them talking about it in 2005 is a very different thing from having a proven demonstration to point to.

    • shoptroll says:

      @Urael
      I don’t see much difference between “Here’s where we want you to go” and 5 years later proudly proclaiming “we’re there”. Especially when they’ve been essentially “there” since the launch of the 360.

      MS moves at a glacial pace. The fact that it took them this long to start crowing about this “vision” isn’t surprising.

      EDIT: You point out Valve as being a concrete example, but BioWare, Bethesda and others beat them to the microtransation game long before the TF2 store launched. The J Allard speech specifically referenced The Sims and Warcraft, both of which went on to launch microtransaction stores approximately 2 years ago.

    • Faxmachinen says:

      BooleanBob: Actually, in the case of Steam sales, buying any more games will not enchance my gaming experience for the next twenty years or so.

  4. micro_explosion says:

    It looks like a casual-targeted version of what steam is but with more social focus.

  5. Crimsoneer says:

    I actually really like the Xbox Experience thing. And we could really use some competition to Steam.

    if MS is serious – and they’re possibly not, seeing this is the umpteenth time they decide to get into PC gaming “seriously” – this could be good.

    • Tatourmi says:

      Meh, I don’t know if I want someone supporting DLC.

    • CMaster says:

      Exactly, DLC is so much better when it is unsupported. Bugs are great, right?

      (Seriously, what are you trying to say?)

    • Hallgrim says:

      I’d guess that he is talking about “buy a new dress” microtransactions rather than DLC. Which is shown pretty explicitly in the video. And I have to agree that shit is banal, and I’d hate to see it become more prominent in my preferred platform.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      I expect he’s talking about supporting and encouraging the idea of DLC— not technical support. Can’t say I care either way on that one, but people do seem to be getting quite exercised over downloadable gubbins.

    • Nathan says:

      I don’t see what the issue is with MS offering that banal clothing stuff for sale? I definitely don’t buy any of the Sony or Microsoft avatar clothing, but if it works as an alternate revenue stream for them then, well, good for them. It’s not something they’re forcing me to buy.

    • Thants says:

      Well, there’s also the part where the guy interrupts his friend at work and guilts him into buying him a more powerful gun to help him out.

  6. Terragot says:

    Okay, I promised myself I’d have a positive day today, so let me find the positive beans in this pile of ‘WAT’…
    Well, surely this means that big publishers are prepaired to invest heavily in the PC as a gaming format again, albiet it in a social gaming experience. This should have been expected sooner or later (later for me) as these things usually go full circle with the console life span ect-a-rah.
    Yeah, but no matter how much I try to grin, bare teeth and squee, this is still a damn negative insight into Microsoft’s future of PC gaming.

  7. Teddy Leach says:

    A tenner says that it’ll flop, even though it’s casual.

    • Nathan says:

      What will flop? I don’t see a definite proposal or finished project here, only a statement of a direction that Microsoft might want to explore on the PC market. They’re a company, and I’d really hope that they’d take exploring potential revenue streams and new markets as fully as possible, rather than only listening to a vocal minority.

    • Saul says:

      Directional floppage, all over the place.

    • Tatourmi says:

      Perfect sentence/avatar coordination Saul, truly.

  8. Robin says:

    It is leaked, however it’s also apparently quite old…

    Envokes more pity for a company chasing a bandwagon three years late than Angry Internet Man rage, to be honest.

    • RobF says:

      Yeah, very much this.

      The only truly shocking thing about this video is how hideously near sighted MS were when it was put together.

  9. salejemaster says:

    okay RPS please come clean my room, because it is your fault I vomited all over it >.<!!!

  10. DanPryce says:

    Yeah, Microsoft want to focus on PC gaming – they’re just using a different lens than the one we’d like them to use.

    I can’t blame Microsoft for going this route at all. There is a large market for socially-integrated gaming, and they’d be stupid not to want a slice of that pie. What upsets me is that they seem to think that core gamers will fall in line with WGX. They’re touting drop-in multiplayer as a new feature when we’ve had that for decades. It’s all stuff that might be new to a casual player, but it’s stuff we’re all familiar with – via Steam, of course.

  11. Pete says:

    Surely the key question is “how will this last once the Xbox side of Microsoft starts to see it as a threat?”

    • Tatourmi says:

      Don’t worry about that, this is a big company and these are aimed at two different publics. Besides the same company will do what is best for the whole company. If they earn more money than they do on the 360 you can bet that they will not spit on it.

    • Kandon Arc says:

      I think the point of this is it’s supposed to work in tandem with the Xbox, like GFWL uses XBL accounts. That’s the direction that Microsoft wants to go – where you have your one Microsoft account that you use for everything.

    • Urthman says:

      Zynga says they have no interest in making games for consoles because that market is too small.

      IF (and it’s a big IF) Microsoft could tap into that market as successfully as this video wants them to, the Xbox side of the company would be the ones having to worry about not getting in the way of the casual/social PC games side of the company.

  12. The Sombrero Kid says:

    This wont work, the only thing likely to come out of this is another set of handcuffs strapped onto our wrists that were meant for casual gamers who all own macs now.

  13. Okami says:

    A capital X in the middle of your marketing buzzword? In 2011? Really, Microsoft?

    • Longrat says:

      Hey, at least they didn’t name it
      Microsoft
      eXtreme
      Gaming

    • ReV_VAdAUL says:

      Random capital letters in one’s name is the height of coolness you philistine.

    • BooleanBob says:

      Having taken Alec’s pre-emptive counter-invective against invective under advisement, I still have to say:

      How.

      How do you come up with a name for your new service that is worse than already impossibly terrible Games For Windows Live?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Windows ME, XP, Vista… then 7… Windows Phone 7… they’d actually started using a proper number scheme, easily understood, natural progression… but nooooOOooooo… “eXperience”

  14. Dinger says:

    Well, Alec, I have to say that is the freshest and most interesting take on the video I’ve seen yet.

    The point of the video is, indeed, that there’s huge money in the PC as a gaming platform. The problem with Microsoft’s approach is that they’re chasing last year’s cash cow (or, in this case, 2009s), and using a model that failed 20 years ago. Everything in the video relates human happiness, success and wealth with a monetary transaction. Part of the reason for the”stealth success” of the PC market is that there’s not pressure to monetize things right out of the gate. The greatest revolutions in the PC world have been built on products that took over by offering something that corresponded to people’s needs, and only later figured out how to make money off of it.

    Microsoft is right to think there’s money in PC gaming; but they’re wrong to think they can muscle in late in the game and take over a rapidly maturing field. This isn’t 1992 anymore. They need to look to the future that isn’t upon us.

    • gulag says:

      That’s perhaps the clearest read of this situation I’ve read. Congrats.

      You’re absolutely right about MS looking to fight the last war, not the coming one. Anyone who remembers when Steam launched might recall two things:

      1) It was a bit shit, wassnit?
      2) It offered a whole bunch of services for free, and over the years added additional services at no cost, spearheaded the mega discount sales model, the free weekends, the gifting, etc. and only then started pulling money back out of the endevour through things like item sales. That’s some long-game thinking right there.

      I don’t think MS have it in their DNA to think and act like that. The annual call from the share-holders of ‘Where’s my dividend?’ won’t allow for that sort of smart curation of trusting customers over time.

      As nebulous as this proposal is, I can’t see it ever coming together into something useful for Ms or it’s customers because one of the basic assumptions is wrong. You can’t just deploy this sort of service in one go. You have to grow it.

    • Bhazor says:

      When you’re in a maket where there’s hundreds of millions of dollars flying around coming in second really isn’t a bad thing.

    • Milky1985 says:

      There is a major difference between the way Valve and MS are looking at things but i think thats party to do with the type of business, MS as a publicly owned business have to show investment potential etc, so having a “long term” project that might fail looks bad on the books. They have to go for the short term win with max profit.

      Valve on the other hand being privatly owned don’t have to worry about this, as long as they cover thier costs they can do whatever the hell they want (and I assume that has been making 1675 different versions of EP3 that have never seen the light of day!) with the spare cash, they don’t ahev to please investors in the same way so can play the long game.

      basically, blame the stock market :p

  15. nil says:

    “Organic stealth?” Like, what, syphilis?

    • bigtoeohno says:

      The epitome of stealthy minions. Stalking prey by night, striking victims at their most vulnerable. I think there is a valid.connection here. In game purchases, I’d have to be in a pretty vulnerable state to use real money to buy what amasses to a cow that moos when u click It. And I’d definitely feel guilty and ashamed afterwards, no turning back?. Am I grasping at straws here?

  16. Meneth says:

    I like how the video has approximately 97% thumbs-down on YouTube.

  17. CMaster says:

    I don’t see why Zynga, Popcap or Facebok are going to start dealing in MSPoints rather than the nice hard cash they are used to.

    And honestly, as pitched in the video, it doesn’t represent a good thing for anybody. All MS seem to want to offer is an avatar and to do all micro transactions through them (and of course, to make sure all games have micro transactions with an in-game benefit). There’s no real suggestion of anything useful from a player’s point of view, regardless of if you play super-serious mil-sim 2 or World of ZyngaVille. Especially as they already all have the social networking side sorted. The serious gamers have steam, and a pay-for version isn’t going to replace that (although I think Valve are crazy not to have an offical facebook app) while facebook games are already on Facebook, a pretty comprehensive social network. (As an aside, EA should ensure the next sims title has pretty extensive FB integration).

    • Nathan says:

      They’re using Facebook Credits, not cash, which are possibly already more ubiquitous than MS Points ever have been.

    • CMaster says:

      Oh really? I knew of FB Credits, but I thought that they had pretty limited takeup and you got your Zyngabucks (is that what they’re called) direct from Zynga. I can see why FB wouldn’t want to allow this, however.

    • Nathan says:

      Since a limited beta program they’ve push pretty hard at getting it rolled out across all Facebook apps. My understanding is that Zynga are now using Credits exclusively within their apps now.

      The increased revenue from the lower barrier of entry for a new payment system apparently more than offsets the 30% cut that Facebook take from the credit system. What with WB testing out movie rental for the Dark Knight using Facebook Credits, I can only see it becoming a scheme which grows at insane rates in the future.

  18. Jaffo says:

    Glad to finally read an article that understands what MS is targeting with this vid.

  19. smokingkipper says:

    You guys are snobs

    How is this a bad thing? You just love to sit in your cave and have the world hate you.

    • Lilliput King says:

      The bizarre attitude to gender might be a cause for concern.

    • smokingkipper says:

      .sigh.

    • Dominic White says:

      No, seriously – just watch the video. Housewives play farmville and shop for pretty virtual clothes to impress men, while men have jobs and play FPS’s with their x-treem p0wning brosephs.

    • CMaster says:

      @Dominic, while I agree to some degree and also cringed a little, I think that isn’t really where the makers of the video were coming from. They weren’t trying to generalize genders, they were just picking on the two “demographics” that spend the most money on games – employed young men (students play more but spend less) and housemaker women. Which is of course where they fail – people have made money here by reaching out to new markets, not giving existing ones something they already have for extra cost. What about all the employed young women? What about older men?

  20. daphne says:

    I’m not going to nay-say, but I don’t see the promise of this just yet. I can’t find myself caring for additional publisher interest seeing the obsession that particular development model has with derivative games and constant sequels. But if it does lead to something like Demon’s Souls for the PC which leverages social potential without going the way of the more obvious “FACEBOOK SOCIAL GAME REVOLVING AROUND INVITING YOUR FRIENDS LIST, YOU SEE”, I’m all for it.

  21. Moni says:

    I’m under the impression that this thingie would be an extension to Games For Windows Live. If that was the case then it’s nice to know Microsoft are, at least, thinking about improving GFWL.

  22. D3xter says:

    “What it is is an interesting demonstration of how and why Microsoft is likely to return its focus to the PC, despite the 360 being a success. There is untold money in them thar hills, primarily because the PC has in its favour that people don’t have to define themselves as gamers to buy/own one.”
    I don’t think they can garner the interest of the Facebook crowd. They’re an elusive people, one day praising their mySpace or whatever else is in nowadays just to turn their back on it the next. Especially if they don’t build it in as a base functionality of Windows 8 (which might lead to trouble with certain institutions). I don’t see how they want to get that target audience, and especially their social contacts that are needed for a pyramid scheme like Farmville and similar to register to their service in the first place.
    On the other hand they could end up damaging both their platform and the already somewhat battered reputation of PC gaming even further.
    Even if they’d succeed in their endeavor and would garner a larger market for the platform and others would follow suit, I’m not sure I’d like whatever would result from that unholy of alliances. I’m not even sure I like what results from consoles gaining the spotlight. Now imagine the design of your Dragon Age 5 when the “casual crowd” is the focal point of attention and they go “but Farmville 2020 has RPG elements, people are playing RPGs every day without knowing it, we are trying to bridge that gap with our newest title.”

    • shinygerbil says:

      Microsoft were quite happy to integrate Facebook heavily into Windows Phone 7, so that may well tell you something about the direction in which they are heading. Leaked rumours of Windows 8 already show a larger element of social integration.

      Last time I checked, Microsoft didn’t make the Dragon Age series – and one can hardly blame Microsoft for something that is already happening elsewhere in the industry.

  23. bowie says:

    As usual Microsoft’s vision of the future is what we have had for a while but with their interface layered over the top just to make things look consistent.

    • Kollega says:

      If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever. ZING!

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.

    • Thants says:

      We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.

  24. Binman88 says:

    I appreciate that the video isn’t aimed at me, but I’m gonna say something anyway seeing as it was posted on this website (that is aimed at me).

    The sooner Microsoft realise that, in addition to targeting masses of people to rake in some idiot money, they could also get back to just releasing good, inspired games. No need to lock them down to a service or tie them with pointless achievements. Make good games that reflect well on your company, that help regain some of the respect from audiences like us, and make do with the relatively lower profits (which are profits nonetheless) you get in return. God knows you have the resources to go out and actually make some good shit, Microsoft.

  25. RandomPHD says:

    PC gaming has always been about its ingenuity and creativity. Alot of our best games today were concepts or mods years ago but that seems to have been forgotten. Those games brought communities together because the games were just that.. games.

    No achievments to have to obtain, games didn’t require GFWL to save Single Player progress and developers of the day didn’t try to intergrate “clan” support and such as we are seeing today. Microsoft ought to back off and allow developers to just get on with it instead of wasting time intergrating features and services we don’t want nor need.

    Anyone remember Microsoft’s Monster Truck Rally game around 1998 or so? It was alot of fun then and it still is now. It is the only reason I keep my Pentium 2 400Mhz with Windows 95. I play it because it is just a video game and it doesn’t pretend to be anything else.

    TL DR: Microsoft should just cut their losses and stay away. They are completley out of touch with the PC gaming community.

  26. Zogtee says:

    I don’t believe it.

    I don’t believe MS has it in them and I don’t think they will do anything significant about the PC in the end. Yes, there are sections within MS that would like to see what is presented in the video happen, but there are other sections that do not. MS is not a united force pushing for this. It’s a fantasy, a dream of what could be. A new shiny three-letter acronym to slap across products, more ways to pull money straight out of people’s pockets, a world where boys play with guns and girls shop for virtual dresses.

    I don’t believe MS can pull themselves together and actually do this.

  27. Valvarexart says:

    Encouraging employees to play at work? As long as my boss is fine with it, I am! But I’ll be sure to do it from a LINUX HUEHUEHUEHUE!!!!

  28. Njordsk says:

    [ replace this post with very agressive words toward microsoft and its idea of PC gaming ]

    And on a more “serious” note, I’m always afraid of casual taking over “real” gaming. There are much much more potential crap-buyer in the casual market, and if they focus on that, people could just forget about us.

    I mean consoles are getting old, Phones/tablet/whatever gaming is rising like hell. Low dev cost, good return of money.

    I don’t like that.

  29. HermitUK says:

    My personal favourite section is “Transaction”, where apparently we can buy add-on content for 360 games like Halo 3 and Gears 2, but on our PC! Glorious!

    I also like that they went out of their way to repeatedly mention FarmVille. Someone probably needs to let Microsoft know that Zynga aren’t interested.

  30. Oblyvious says:

    Why can’t Steam just make their own OS? It would make my life so much easier!

  31. Stuart Walton says:

    As long as I can still run games from an un-intrusive environment, without the need for a ridiculous UI layer then MS can do what the hell they want. Steam hits the right balance of consolidating your gaming needs, could you imagine the backlash if Valve obfuscated Steam’s core functionality with all this whizzbangery.

    Heck, I was pissed with MS when XP hid all the useful tools that are easily accessed in Win 2000. Don’t even mention Vista’s UAC, that was the first thing against wall when configuring. And GfWL is an abomination, you know what would make it 1,000,000 times better? Make the damn thing work properly with firewalls and UPnP! I always have my firewall in learning mode and does it complain when GfWL can’t make a connection? No, because it tries to make an incoming connection which the firewall very rightly blocks because it uses a port that my setup isn’t expecting. I have to disable my 3rd party firewall to get GfWL to work. I refuse to port-forward manually because what if my LAN IP changes or I want to use a different machine.

    If MS can’t get those fundamental things right, they better damn well give me the option of not using it. I’d rather play a modded game and not get achievements than piss around with GfWL.

    • Jac says:

      I find steams penchant for spamming me with an advertising window when I close a steam game run from an icon on my desktop very aggravating.

    • jamesgecko says:

      @Jac There’s an app, I mean, checkbox for that. It’s in “settings” under the “interface” tab. It defaults to on, of course. :P

  32. Daiv says:

    Maybe they could try doubling down. That always worked in the past.

  33. Lars Westergren says:

    Yeah, who will lead and who will follow? Microsoft has done an awful lot of the latter lately, with uninspired me-too clones.

    I actually quit a new programming job a few years back a few weeks in when I realized their business idea was distributed spam. Quiz participants got a few points for answering questions right, lots of points for getting friends to sign up. They were careful not to call it spam of course, but in the code they could see they themselves thought of it as that. “public void sendSpam(List recipients).” Hated it then, hate it now, and the likes of Facebook and Zynga for popularizing it.

    They call it social gaming, but playing Left 4 Dead or Magicka is just as social, only they don’t require you to become a cog in a perpetual pyramid scheme, or train you to associate all forms of online interaction with your friends with a constant consuming of artificially scarce status items in a way carefully controlled by a company that knows all about your private life.

    “A virtual dress for my avatar! And people did thumbs up on Facebook! Consuming validates my existence, te-hee!”

    • Njordsk says:

      Thumb up for having morality.

      Wait… did I just thumbed up a post? I’m doomed

    • Lars Westergren says:

      >I’m doomed

      Here, have some virtual currency to make you feel better. Go buy yourself something pretty, girl!

    • Urael says:

      That whole “I buy a digital dress to make a statement about who I am, and my friends love me for it” bit actually made me feel ill. MY avatar wouldn’t even be human, let alone wear some [presumably brand-associated] clothing. And I certainly couldn’t give a toss about liked it afterwards.

  34. bigtoeohno says:

    Microsoft really needs to change its marketing angle. I can remember them using frighteningly similar ads for Windows and then again with MS office it worked when computers and the internet where new and exciting. I don’t think anyone’s fooled by the fading in and out of people doing stuff with stuff and things with things anymore.

    • Urael says:

      You think? Tell that to Car and Mobile Phone advertisers. How many times have we seen the cherished device alter reality to suit their lifestyle now?

    • bigtoeohno says:

      A new phone won’t get me an beautiful wife a nice suit or a slick pair of shades? Awaaah?

  35. Colthor says:

    “…Microsoft is likely to return its focus to the PC”
    Like the Eye of Sauron scanning the landscape for new revenue streams.

  36. Eclipse says:

    How can they really go wrong so much? that whole video was a bagful of wrong:

    - I’m not interested in having a dumby looking avatar, I mean, it’s ok but it’s not a selling point, so stop it.

    - I’m not interested in converting my money in virtual creds to buy stuff, especially when the conversion price is different from US DOLLARS to EUR. 100 creds 10 dollars, 100 creds 10 euro is not going to work for me, thanks.

    - I’m not interested in buying AAA games at 50 eur in digital delivery, sorry, at that price I’d choose retail, and you’re talking with someone that has more than 200 titles on steam, and others on gog, desura and even a bunch on GFWL.

    AAAAANDDD last but not least, guys, you really have poor taste in graphics design and usability, GFWL client is really sucky, and that video clones the look of Xbox Live, and it’s not really going to be prettier on PC

    • Eclipse says:

      Oh I forgot to say something: delete that shitty login\DRM system on GFWL and maybe I could even buy something when on sale.
      Not being able to save your game in single player because you’re “not logged in Live” is just not acceptable.

    • Urael says:

      Agreed, Eclipse. It’s fucking fascist; dictating to me how I use my computer. If they only just respected me enough to offer me the option…

      I suffered it with Fallout 3 and Batman: AA but never again. NEVER. AGAIN.

      (PS: Steam is in the same camp. Give me a game that I can play without any connection or reference to your Steam network, Valve – and that includes having to ask permission to set up your oh-so-gracious ‘offline mode’ – and you’ll have me onside again. Until then, spin on it.)

    • Nathan says:

      What what what?

      > This video isn’t aimed at you

      The fact that Microsoft would like to tap into the ‘casual’ market in no way negates your ability to entirely ignore it. There’s clearly a market out there for this stuff and MSFT would like to engage with it. Whilst their engagement of the core PC gaming market has clearly been minimal for a few years, there’s no need for this video to stir such vitriol simply because it’s not for you.

    • Thants says:

      Well, it’s not just the casual market as the shooter at the end shows. And judging by the number of games that already use GFWL, it’s not just something you can ignore.

  37. godgoo says:

    none of this bothers me the same way GFWL has never bothered me, I just opt out of things i’m not interested in rather than insisting they bend to my will. I think this is the case for most participants which is why Microsoft have floundered in their past attempts.

  38. mandrill says:

    Of the crime of perpetuating gender stereotypes with reference to gaming I hereby find Microsoft guilty as charged.

    So girls will only shop for clothes and play games like Farmville and Bejewelled on a PC will they? And Boys will only spend their digital money on better guns for their manshooty games? How condescending and insulting.

    Shame Microsoft, Shame.

    I like how they make a big thing of their search thingy which no-one uses (and which steal results from google anyway Linky)

    I hereby sentence Microsoft to suffer even more derision and rancour than it already does (even though we have to use their products due to the monopoly which DirectX seems to have on PC gaming)

  39. Haywire says:

    Just gotta say, love the song referenced in the title

  40. ado says:

    I’m apparently one of the few people that had no problems with GFWL, but this direction I cannot support.

    Yeah, there’s money in this, and no, I can’t see this helping gamers like myself one bit. All this can do, if it’s successful, is to push away the PC from gamers like myself. Why? Because the open source nature of the PC is why I love it, and slapping an xbox interface on the PC won’t make it more accessible for console gamers.

    Steam is where it’s at, for gamer’s it’s a social network and the perfect games hub and store, for big publishers and indie devs it’s a secure platform with an already built in audience and great reputation. Yeah, Steam will lead, Microsoft and others will follow.

  41. kobre12 says:

    I feel sick after watching this video…

  42. fucker says:

    wow, looks really bad! can’t wait to have it essentially forced on me if i want to continue playing on pc. 5/5

  43. CyberBrent says:

    I am the modern Microsoft PC Gaming eXtreme Bro.
    My Avatar shows that I am an authentic PC gamer.
    I buy things to enhance my gaming experience.
    I buy virtual clothes for 160 Microsoft Points.
    I buy them for my GF who becomes the envy of her friends.
    Sometimes she likes to play games too
    like Be-jeweled
    like Be-farmed
    like Be-idoled
    “Hey Bro, this game is pretty kewl, but i need ur help.”
    “Don’t worry, we are both Microsoft eXtreme PC Gamers, I’ll help u.”
    “Thnx, peace out.”

    • Thants says:

      Being charged a fee for everything I do in a game enhances my gaming and entertainment experience.

  44. Hayvic says:

    Heh, P0wned!

    • Baka says:

      Damn you, I wanted to say that.
      Really had to laugh out loud there.

      Heh. P0wned

    • shinygerbil says:

      Looks like you were beaten to it.

      Heh. P0wned

  45. Nameless1 says:

    “…it means heightened developer/publisher interest in the platform, and that’s bound to lead to more stuff we enjoy (alongside all the microtransactions and farming games)…”

    That sentence shoul be:
    “…it means heightened developer/publisher interest in the platform, and that’s bound to lead to more stuff we do not enjoy (all the microtransactions and farming games)…”

    And we don’t want\need that. We have STEAM with 35 f-millions users.

    • Nathan says:

      Cityville reached 100 million active users in just one month after it launched.

      It might not be the type of game we like, but as much as we try to ignore it, it’s the number one PC game in the world right now.

    • Bhazor says:

      Heh. Not played TF2 recently then?

    • Nameless1 says:

      @Nathan: 100 mil. users of the largest social network in the world that clicked “play” on a web page? It’s not exactly the same thing, I’d say.

    • Nathan says:

      Sure, those users don’t precisely translate into £40 per pop in the way a retail game would. So what? My point is just that it’s ridiculously massive business with unimaginable potential to generate huge profits with ridiculous profits.

      Zynga’s recent valuation surpassing that of EA is evidence enough of that.

  46. StingingVelvet says:

    If Microsoft actually gave and damn and put some money and good engineers into making a Windows gaming platform like this they would become massive competition for Steam and make millions off idiots. I don’t think they care enough though, they see the future as living-room box devices and portable tablets/phones.

  47. Navagon says:

    If it’s going to do anything at all it’s just going to shift publisher focus on the PC to a more casual focus. Just like consoles and their controllers have had an undeniably detrimental effect on FPS, this could have broader implications in terms of how the major publishers see the PC as a whole.

    After all they can’t fight trends and expect to win. For instance, releasing MadWorld on Wii was just swimming against the tide. Now sure, the PC isn’t a closed platform. There will always be alternatives to this GFWL2 and all it entails. You’re going to get developers catering for the gaps in the market here no matter what.

    This however may only increase the shift towards the casual and making microtransactions a norm across all genres.

    Thankfully all that relies on Microsoft being successful with this and the current response hasn’t been overly positive.

  48. castorp says:

    Ah, so that’s what women are. And men.

    Heteronormative bullshit.

    Okay, I don’t care much about Microsofts take on the new era of WindowsLifeStyleExperienceForPersonalComputers, but the 1950′s portrayal of men and women is annyoing. Not exciting or special, just annyoing.

  49. tanith says:

    I feel more stupid after watching this video. ):

    • Navagon says:

      Watch it a couple more times and you might be demographic enough to spend 160 MS points on an item of clothing for your virtual avatar.

    • jonfitt says:

      When you reach that demographic, Mann Co have a hat just for you.

  50. Freud says:

    The endplay for GFWL isn’t MS wanting to encrypt our savegames. And while I don’t think the PC gaming market will completely change it will get infected with micro transactions, social gaming and integration with other crap we don’t care about (like Facebook). It’s already started.

    With that in mind I am happy there is competition that is strong, innovative and more successful than MS. That way we have a better chance of coming out ok on the other side.