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

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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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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