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Why Microsoft Showed Very Few PC Games At E3

You PC types ain't welcome 'round these parts, partner

Another E3 has come and gone, and even during a year of Microsoft (once again) committing to PC as another arm of its gaming assault, its showing was largely dedicated to Xbox One. Dead Rising 3 is bringing its massive, undead-infested toybox to our city of towers and power, but not much else is really happening. So, what gives? Well, while Microsoft's Phil Spencer acknowledged that PC is blowing away a lot of console stuff these days, he argued that E3 isn't for PC gaming. It's Xbox's time to shine, which raises the question: what is PC gaming's place, by Microsoft's standards?

Spencer explained his company's rationale to Polygon:

"I'm head of gaming at Microsoft. When we're doing gaming strategy, gaming focus inside the company, that's my job. I think in a lot of ways, you could argue gaming on Windows has never been more healthy in that the biggest of the big franchises, League of Legends, World of Tanks, those things dwarf a lot of what we're doing in this console space in terms of users and monetization. They're all on PC."


"E3's a retail show. It's a retail show, it's a console show, so it didn't really feel like the right place for us to talk about Windows, but Windows and gaming on Windows is critical to Microsoft's success. For us, E3 is a console show and an Xbox show, and for us as Microsoft, Xbox is our gaming brand, and it's the thing we can fill an arena like this, we get millions of people to watch us on TV and we show our games and it's a brand that people care about."

So people... don't care about PC gaming? That's a strange thing to imply when Steam has 75 million active users and League of Legends gets 67 million players per month. The latter game, however, gave rise to what Spencer thinks PC gaming's public-facing space might be. eSports championships, he suggested, draw tons of people, so why not corral PC games there I guess or something for reasons. I mean, eSports are dominated by PC games, but why stop there - especially if the PC game in question isn't really relevant to that crowd? Spencer's logic doesn't make a lot of sense, and he's head of gaming at Microsoft. Hurrah!

Meanwhile, his assertion that E3 is a retail show kinda ignores the fact that even tons of console games are downloadable now, and retail is slowly getting cut out of the equation. But sure.

Oh well, it's not like this is super surprising. Microsoft's support of PC as a gaming platform continues to be desert dry, and after years of windy wisps of words (and little more), I don't really know why we should expect much else. Same song, new verse. I always hold out hope for improvement, but I'm not getting my hopes up.

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