Sometimes we as users get so wrapped up in success. We tend to focus with laser-like precision on the things that our favorite sports teams, companies and people do correctly that we forget they make small but crucial mistakes. Microsoft, makers of the Xbox One, hasn’t made small crucial mistakes when it comes to PC gaming. No, they’re entire legacy in PC gaming is a giant joke worthy of a Saturday Night Live parody featuring Keenan Thompson. Now, Microsoft has big gaming announcements planned for Windows 10.
I’m old enough to remember Games for Windows Live, both versions in fact. I remember the good. Essentially, Microsoft wanted to snag a position alongside others in the PC gaming marketplace space. Games for Windows Live – the software – was intended to be an easy way for users to buy games. To lure users into buying games through the Games for Windows Live store, Microsoft worked with PC game makers to include Games for Windows Live achievements in their titles. Past games in the Batman: Arkham series of titles featured achievements just like Xbox Live games. There were dozens of Games for Windows Live titles. These titles were easily identifiable on store shelves too, just like Xbox One and Xbox 360 titles.
Games for Windows Live seemed like a great idea.
Games for Windows Live seemed like a great idea. The problem was it seemed like Microsoft would have preferred that users purchase its Xbox consoles instead of game on their PCs, which is absurd considering Microsoft still gets paid for every Windows PC they sell. The company never put force behind it. For starters, naming the initiative Games for Windows Live was just about the worse mistake they could have made. Compounding that was a dwindling list of titles, a required software download that never saw crucial upgrades, and Microsoft’s failure to understand that community is a big part of the PC gaming experience. Games for Windows Live folded not once, but twice.
Today, there’s Xbox on Windows, a barebones, basic system built around mobile games available in the Windows Store. Microsoft certifies titles for Xbox on Windows, then makes achievements available in them. These achievements stay stored on your Xbox Live profile like you actually earned them in an Xbox console game.
If comments made by Xbox head Phil Spencer are to be believed, Microsoft’s Windows 10 Media Briefing will include announcements about a fourth initiative in the PC gaming space. Many in the audience are going to be looking for that must-have feature to help Microsoft battle PC gaming juggernaut Steam. That’s not what I’m going to be looking for.
I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the basics. For starters, the initiative needs to actually be called Xbox. I’m hoping to see some kind of real centralized multiplayer experience. I’ll be searching for a dedicated PC gaming marketplace built into the Windows Store for Windows 10. I hope to hear talk about Windows PCs getting the same attention from the Xbox Team as the Xbox One and Xbox 360. I think messaging and voice support across Xbox Live should be on display. Forget flashy features and long-winded talks about game development. What Microsoft really needs to show PC gamers is that they’re just competent enough in the PC to get going and act on feedback overtime.
Microsoft has the right stuff to make Xbox a success on Windows 10. What they have to do is take the responsibility seriously. If Microsoft can’t actually deliver a reason for Xbox users to get excited about this new PC gaming stuff and move copies of Windows 10 then we’re right back to where we started: a focus on the Xbox One and nothing else.
Thanks to MyGaming for the photo.