Microsoft has paid plenty of lip service to Windows gaming in recent months, but the company is almost ready to talk specifics.
“I’ll be focusing more on what we are doing on Win10 in January,” Xbox head Phil Spencer wrote in Twitter, in response to a question about Windows coming to Xbox One. “[I]t’s time for us to talk about gaming on Windows.”
Spencer is likely referring to the Windows press event that Microsoft has scheduled for January 21. The company is expected to talk about consumer features of Windows 10, having focused on enterprise users in the current Technical Preview.
The story behind the story: While Spencer’s statement is vague, there is some history behind it. In August 2013, Microsoft shut down its Games for Windows Marketplace, leaving the business of selling PC games to other services such as Steam and GOG. Microsoft does sell some games in the Windows Store, but they’re mainly free or low-cost games designed for touch screens. Spencer is clearly talking about something bigger.
Getting serious about PC gaming
Around the time that Microsoft shuttered the Games for Windows Marketplace, it started showing signs of greater PC gaming ambitions. “We believe in Windows/PC gaming and have long-term plans to grow our support,” Microsoft told IGN after announcing the store’s closure in July. A month later, Microsoft hired Jason Holtman, who ran Steam’s digital download service, and Holtman said he’s be “focusing on making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment.”
But by February, Holtman had left the company. That didn’t stop Microsoft partner creative director Ken Lobb from saying the company was “absolutely” committed to the PC. “We’re getting very strong support internally. So we’re really going after PC,” Lobb told Rock, Paper, Shotgun in February.
With talk of Microsoft allowing non-Metro apps in the Windows Store and experimenting with streaming Xbox games to desktop browsers, perhaps Microsoft wants another shot at controlling PC gaming’s destiny with Valve’s gaming-focused SteamOS operating system looming on the horizon.
Or perhaps I’m reading into this too much, and all we’ll get is an update on DirectX 12—which, to be honest, is looking pretty darn nifty.