Posted March 22, 2014 by Adam in News

Microsoft to Re-focus on PC Gaming

PC Gaming
PC Gaming

This could either be great news or terrible news depending on your constitution for all things Microsoft.

Microsoft Studio head Phil Spencer went loud on the confirmation that Microsoft are looking to re-focus and re-invest in the PC marketplace at a GDC 2014 speech today.  This reveal was triggered by a question regarding Valve’s potentially increasing dominance in the PC market place with the upcoming Steam OS and Steam Machines. However, Spencer was keen to stress that further details would remain under wraps until this Summer, as Microsoft are keen to get the details out in a “thoughtful way”. No doubt trying to avoid the calamity that faced Microsoft last year during the Xbox One announcements which didn’t exactly go down well, prompting the company to have a major re-think of some of the core announced features of the system.

Spencer praised the work of Valve, labelling them the “backbone of PC gaming for the last decade”, before stating the obvious fact that Valve have concentrated on (and some may say resurrected), the PC platform more than Microsoft have. He remarked on the positive aspects of healthy competition, citing Sony and Nintendo, but did not label the re-focus as an attempt to compete directly with Valve’s current achievements. Reading between the lines, this could suggest that there will be no attempts to release a Windows Gaming focused OS or hardware. But the idea of Microsoft not attempting to build some form of digital marketplace seems odd to rule out, particularly given the “app store” focused nature of the recent Windows Metro UI design.

While referring to Microsoft’s plan to “significantly invest more…” in PC gaming “in the real near term”, Phil Spencer commented on the current rumoured shut down of the Games For Windows Live service which was announced, and then immediately retracted, in a support update for Age Of Empires Online.

“We have a longer term plan for multiplayer gaming and marketplace on Windows. We understand what we have today in market … isn’t great. We do understand there’s some continuity of getting from where we are to where we want to be [and] that shutting the lights off [on Games for Windows Live] isn’t exactly the right thing to do.”

With Microsoft’s radical DirectX 12 set to clash against AMD’s Mantle, being a PC gamer is certainly shaping up to be as entertaining as the current console war is.

Games For Windows Live


But are Microsoft simply too late to the party? Their rejuvunated DirectX efforts came off the back of AMD’s assertions that DirectX 11 was where MS had drawn the line, and that a version 12 would never see the light of day. They’re fighting another front with the console wars, and not exactly displaying the same prominence that they had with the 360. Previous attempts to compete with Valve by publishers such as Ubisoft and EA have been met with criticism and negativity, although both companies have a strong enough roster of IPs to keep their heads above water.

One thought could be that the days of the Xbox exclusives are drawing to a close as Microsoft seeks to regain dominance of a marketplace that they’ve left to the sidelines. No doubt the changes will see a tighter integration of the Xbox Live service across PC titles. A Windows Live UI for PC games that replicates the Xbox Live service could be another possibility, although that feels as though it treads too closely on Steam’s coat tails, and I can see very few people willing to migrate themselves over to such an ad-heavy front end if that were the case.

Microsoft have shown surprising resilence in the past though, Windows 8 was hardly greeted with positivity, the Xbox One was almost universally panned during the two main announcements last year, and Windows phones have hardly given Apple or Google a reason to up their game. But they’re still a dominant market force and have shown (particularly with the Xbox One) that they can listen, and may even pull a few surprises out of the bag.

That all said, it’ll take some convincing to have me use anything but Steam for now, even with its obvious flaws.

Original news source and quotes: Polygon

Main Article Image: Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw


Playing games since I'd developed enough motor functions to hold a joystick. From Commodore 64 all the way through to the latest gen. Favourite games to play are FPS games and anything with a deep and compelling story and a world that draws you in. I also enjoy writing, film making and playing bass in whatever band will have me :)