Rumours that Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft all sat around a campfire during GDC, toasting marshmallows and singing Kumbayah are entirely false. From a distance, the merry folk troubadours might have looked like the creators and purveyors of generational gaming devices, but closer inspection revealed an entirely different picture. Microsoft were there, yes, represented by Microsoft supremo Phil Spencer (not Kirstie Allsopp’s chum). But the other figures were animatronic effigies, constructs of cloth and straw vaguely resembling PC gaming’s past and future. One of them distinctly resembled Gabe Newell and Spencer applauded his every move.
While claiming, again, that Microsoft would concentrate on improving the PC gaming experience in coming years, Spencer also acknowledged that Valve have been the kings of the scene over the last ten years – “They’ve been the backbone of PC gaming for the last decade. As a Windows company, I appreciate what they’ve done.” Anything that helps to sell copies of the Operating System is a good thing. The Windows family is a happy family! Imagine how all of this togetherness might change if Valve started to make come hither eyes at a certain penguin.
Despite Valve’s encroachment onto Spencer’s natural habitat (the couch), Microsoft claim not to see the company as a direct competitor. Both companies can work in the PC space without stepping on each others’ toes, he reckons, and Microsoft will be unveiling some ‘tier-1 initiatives’ for PC gamers. I don’t know what that means.
I agree with Spencer’s basic outlook – he says that more people playing games is a good thing for any company invested in games and gaming tech. The need to fight for a share of market seems like a worry for e-sports titles and MMOs rather than for entire companies. Anything that requires a large community and a great deal of time investment can dominate similar competitors, although that doesn’t mean any genre is like a Highlander in that there can be only one.
The DirectX 12 news is relevant to Microsoft’s future plans. Perhaps that’s a tier-1 initiative? Whatever the future holds, it’s odd to think that Microsoft probably need a strong PC gaming industry far more than the industry needs Microsoft.