The Xbox One is becoming a PC with the introduction of Universal Windows Applications

Gears of War 4

Microsoft's ambitions for the Xbox One seem to involve making it more and more like a PC. In a new interview on The Guardian, head of Xbox Phil Spencer talks about how the console and Windows 10 are now using the same underlying system for building programs. The plan is to link the two systems better than ever before, avoid a Games For Windows-tier debacle and start developing hardware upgrades to the Xbox One.

We've noticed a few more Xbox games popping in to the upcoming PC games list recently.

The Universal Windows Platform lets applications run on PCs, the Xbox One, smartphones and tablets - anything that Microsoft can slap an OS on, they're designed to work on. Obviously there's going to be a gap between those first two and the latters, but it's their "focus", says Spencer, to build a "complete gaming ecosystem."

For PC users what this means is more games, and a lot more cross-platform support. We've already seen games like Rise of the Tomb Raider maker the jump quicker than they have to rival consoles, and Gears of War: Ultimate Edition arrives today after its Xbox One roots. Quantum Break is day-and-dating it too, while rumours continue to fly for Gears of War 4 and Scalebound. Spencer also confirmed that cross-platform play and cross-buy opportunities were in development for use by publishers if they wished it.

For Xbox owners, Spencer says that it means more games are in development than ever before. It also means the console can evolve its hardware in iterations going forward. Have a real of the full article for more on the console side of things.

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BradShort avatarMrAptronym avatarsubedii avatarAever avatar
MrAptronym Avatar
361
1 Year ago

When I read between the lines all I can hear is "We're pushing even harder to make people on PC buy their programs through our awful storefront." Ever since Apple succeeded in centralizing the software market on their platforms, Microsoft has been after the same thing. Control the platform and skim pennies off of everyone who wants to compete. Steam beat them to the punch on games, but you can be sure they haven't given up.

God I wish it didn't suck trying to use Linux as your sole OS.

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subedii Avatar
753
1 Year ago

Been doing that for roughly half a year now. There was a learning curve but honestly? I've been really happy with the switch to Linux Mint, and I can't really see myself switching back. I can't even remember when I last booted into Windows.

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MrAptronym Avatar
361
1 Year ago

I ran Linux for a few years as my sole OS, and used it on the side for even longer. Sadly I have proprietary software I am required to use that doesn't work in Linux currently. Oddly I have been playing more and more old, emulated or indie games that work under Linux lately so that would be a more minor hurtle.

This news makes me really want to switch though. A shame linux on laptops isn't the best decision, and I can't switch my desktop right now. Maybe I can cobble together a second desktop PC for general use that I can throw linux on.

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Aever Avatar
636
1 Year ago

Making Windows Desktop and XBone technically similar makes a whole lot of sense. It makes so much sense it's weird to see Microsoft actually going for it, given their record of dumb decisions. Anyways, we want that.

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MrAptronym Avatar
361
1 Year ago

A unified API mostly benefits Xbox I imagine. A unified store benefits Microsoft, possibly developers but possibly not, and doesn't do much for me. As a matter of fact I am not very interested in having a store built into my OS, actually, I dislike having it there. And that is what Microsoft's goal is here for PC: Create a closed marketplace that they control and monetize like they have on Xbox. It's a terrible deal for us. They are using the ease of porting and probably a few exclusive titles to try and draw people into using their closed and controlled shop. They started with their metro apps in Windows 8, and it doesn't take a genius to see that they are pushing that system, that more controllable environment, out further.

This is mostly news for Xbox owners as microsoft is basically saying they want to do away with the fixed hardware model consoles have had. That certainly seems to be the way things are moving, but I can't say I am 100% convinced its a good idea. Console games are used to things just functioning, and functioning at a certain specification. I am not sure they want iterative systems like cellphones or computers. Its going to make developing high end games taht are guarunteed to run well much trickier. By going with a more PC approach abstracted from hardware, they are basically just making pre-packaged, budget, living room gaming PCs that can only run approved software. Now, I can't claim to know the reasons for sure, but those have never taken off. Upgrades aren't well liked in console land either, no one cared about the Sega CD, or the 32x or the N64 DD or the DSi or the New 3DS.

This is a pretty huge gamble for Microsoft if they indeed follow through. I guess they are feeling pretty desperate right now on the console front what with their abandoning of published sales figures for some user metric that people can't make stories out of. More than just that though, they are greedy to monetize every aspect of their PC environment.

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Aever Avatar
636
1 Year ago

I think you're reading too much into this.

For us, it means it is easier, from a technical pov, to get xbox games running on PC. It doesn't mean we will, since mostly marketing/political decisions keep games on consoles, but at least the technical burden is out of the way. Hopefully, at least indy devs, will take advantage of this.

I don't think MS means you will be able to use any hardware. Most likely there will be a list of approved alternatives to the default configuration. The interesting question here is if devs will try to take advantage of this. If they do then console games, and by extension the ports we get, will be less limited by hardware. If they don't, then this entire thing will fail since there won't be any point in buying better hardware.

Yes, the store thing is a dark cloud looming over our world. It's obvious they want to force it on us and monetize the whole thing in some way, but I'm not sure the doom scenarios are entirely realistic. I mean, most likely some games will be locked to their store. That's not all that bad, it's basically not that different from what happens with Steam.

Will they close the platform and only allow new software via the store? I doubt it, not even Apple dared go that far and every one knows just how happy Apple is to keep everything under fascism like control. In the end, we will only have to deal with MS's awkward attempts at making a gaming platform, Gfwl being still fresh in memory.

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MrAptronym Avatar
361
MrAptronym replied to Aever
1 Year ago

How many indie games are getting made for Xbone and aren't coming to PC for technical reasons? That is a genuine question, I can't think of any examples, but I know very little about Xbone's non-AAA line-up.

I doubt MS intends to open up Xbox to any hardware configuration either. I think they are toying with incremental upgrades as Apple did with the iPhone. That still carries with it huge potential issues for developing highly optimized games.

While I obviously use steam, I have some issues with it as well, I prefer to buy games on GOG or other DRMless retailers when possible. I don't want to go in the other direction even further. UWP is *substantially* worse than steam though. First of all, to download UWP programs from outside windows' storefront, you need to change a buried setting that I doubt most users even know exists. By default, programs using this platform and its features are available only through Microsoft's App Store. Additionally they are sandboxed. No EXE to interact with. No mods. No overlays like Steam's. No fixes like Durante's. You will be as locked out of PC games using this tech as you are a mobile phone game. (They also currently have annoying features like always-on Vsync and only run in the less efficient borderless fullscreen.)

Microsoft is only pushing this tech to try and create the virtual monopoly on Windows that Google has over Android. (Where you can also *technically* install software from other sources, all you need to do is change the right setting!) You might not think they will succeed, but that doesn't mean it's not something to fight against.

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BradShort Avatar
5
1 Year ago

Love the cross platfrom functionality for gamepad enabled games but am concerned that this will lead to un-optomised conversions

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