Game Stash: Microsoft’s Missed Opportunity

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The biggest hallmark of this is Games for Windows Live, and that publishers seem to be abandoning it (Kane & Lynch 2, Fallout: NV, 2k Games in general) in favour of Steamworks.

I think its more a thing that Peter Molyneux, although a really, really nice man...just needs to be kept on a lead, and stop sprouting to people each chance he gets!

Good article and I totally agree with you. Could it be because of market share or to focus on the 360 exclusively or even portability? Who knows but at they very least you'd think it would be a golden opportunity to be the "ambassador" of gaming on all platforms.

The rumour is that there is a lot of factional infighting at Microsoft. Maybe one day the true story will be told or maybe in fact there is no story to tell, but hey. One part of the company might really believe in gaming on windows but gaming is fully in the domain of the xbox empire who do not want any opposition to their thousand year reich of comfy couch based gaming.

But isn't this more indicitive of gaming in General? I mean most people are turning to the consoles because of the ease of use. It's been my experence that if you're not bleeding edge current on computer tech and procedures you are going to have a bad time.

Steve Butts:
The company never seems to tire of making claims that Windows is the most popular and potent gaming platform on the planet...

They do this first and foremost as fodder for their feud with Apple (and it is a huge draw for the gaming community) - although I suppose the point is that the statement is true not because of Microsoft themselves.

Pretty straightforward article, otherwise. It's pretty clear Microsoft hasn't done much on the PC side of things, but the whys and why nots are still a mystery. It I had to guess, I'd say that there really isn't much competition in that sector - PC and console gaming are different enough that they attract different people and even different game genres (and also console gaming dominates given a same title), and so the only major competitor is Apple's Macs which isn't putting up much of a fight (or rather, still has a long way to go to be on par with Windows' offering - and even still a lot the draw of the PC platform is its modularity and customizability, which isn't available on Mac). So perhaps Microsoft doesn't feel the need to invest much into that market.

The long and short of it is, if you are looking to get a gaming computer, you're almost always going to go with a PC with Windows. Thus, having nothing to fight, and with greener fields elsewhere, Microsoft leaves only a token force.

That and Microsoft has been proving themselves to be all about control of their platform with their Xboxes, and they just can't do that on the PC.

[Edit for sake of transitional consistency.]

Games For Windows Live does basically exactly what Steam does.

Steam was just around longer.

Everything like this has it's bugs, you can't expect it to run across the board straight away but it seems because people won't give it a chance it can't grow.

I seem to be one of the lucky ones, the only problem I ever had with GFWL was when I first booted it up and it didn't want to sign in my Xbox Gamertag. I closed it. Rebooted it. Then it worked fine and I haven't had any problems since.

I use it regularly to play Dawn Of War 2 and I own 3 games that utilise GFWL. (4 if you count Chaos Rising)

Now maybe I'm completely wrong here but if they had GFWL on a lot of systems then they would be troubleshooting for those systems and releasing patches to fix up any bugs.

Steam releases a lot of patches still and it works on pretty much every system now.

Now maybe Microsoft are being very lazy with their games. But they recently updated the GFWL download list with sever Games For Windows games.

But some people I have talked to seem to not want to use GFWL on the grounds that it is not steam.

Microsoft have a long way to go, but I believe they can get there.
Steam is the big problem here, it's what Microsoft has to go up against and Steam has already established itself big time.

I'm quite sleepy so if that didn't make much sense or had no point please excuse me.

MongoBaer:
But isn't this more indicitive of gaming in General? I mean most people are turning to the consoles because of the ease of use. It's been my experence that if you're not bleeding edge current on computer tech and procedures you are going to have a bad time.

You have to know what you're doing, yes, but you don't have to be at the "bleeding edge" of tech to have a good time. I have good memories of playing through HL2 the first time at 1024x768 and none of the bells and whistles, and I don't think it hurt my experience at all.

A lot of emphasis gets put on max graphical settings at crazy resolutions pumping out at obscene frame rates, all with blazing fast load times, but it's hardly necessary. In fact a lot of people still use XP which means they're limited to Direct X 9 (the current being 11). As far as I can tell, the only absolutely required tech of the past few years would be pixel shaders.

Good point.

Though, I can't care less, as Microsoft's job is really just to make Windows stable and accessible. THIS is the REAL support. Market will do the rest.

They most probably shifted focus to OS development right after the Vista 2006/2007 debut, given negative feedback and all. After all, you can't stretch an octopus beyond it's length.

"Windows, it runs your games well..."

That's all I really care about as far as microsoft is concerned with PC gaming.

@ Mangobaer

In today's world ( where tech is evolving faster than the actual graphics in games are ), you can easily make a PC that will run virtually any game well for under 600 dollars. It's more of just having the knowledge ( which isn't too difficult ).

Microsoft would make a boatload more money if they made an officially liscensed xbox and xbox360 emulators for the PC.

Consoles are a fad, computers will always be there and there have always been lulls in the action.

Not that I think computers are "better" than consoles, but PC's always seem to be the one's left standing after all of the impulsive buying is done.

im sort of apathetic about this one. if they do start to actually make games i mean i wont really care much unless they are good games. I think microsoft is really centralizing gaming with the xbox brand. PC only titles have huge advantages over console, even though im almost strictly a console player ill admit this, when i owned a computer that was capable of playing games i loved the flexability. with so many mods, player developed maps and great team play options the PC has the ability to actually extend the life of most games threefold or longer. That is an amazing feat compared to most console games where you have to dole out the cash for a few extra weapons or skins. all in all so many gamers out there are thriving off of old IPs of games they love such at team fortress 2 and counterstrike that there is a huge opportunity for growth i mean hell even hardcore IP loyal pc gamers will probably buy a game that comes out for the pc even if its not all that great i mean just to fill in the deadspace and boredom.

Booze Zombie:
Consoles are a fad, computers will always be there and there have always been lulls in the action.

Not that I think computers are "better" than consoles, but PC's always seem to be the one's left standing after all of the impulsive buying is done.

Until PC's have the ease of access of a console, I fail to see how consoles are a fad.
Your average gamer really doesn't want to deal with the hassle that can sometimes comes with them.

In a time when the non-portable, (non-wii) home gaming platforms have so little architectural difference between them, exclusivity is simply a vote of no confidence. Its saying, "we here at [development house/publishing body] feel title X simply lacks the necessary quality to perform well on more than one platform, and we'd make more money with the signing bonuses from exclusivity contracts than a multi-platform release.

Not to mention, in the current mainstream climate of selling bullshit to retards (the preceding is somewhat inflammatory, but $15 for a map pack with 2 new maps and 3 recycled ones can't be described as anything else), the unique benefits of the PC platform simply aren't profitable.

The idea of generating a modding community that will keep a game alive for years or decades just means less money now and later. The idea of 'future proofing' a title with amazing graphics that only a few computers could possibly run just means it'd be harder to make your next game look as good or better.

To say, the unique benefits of the PC platform (windows is not a fucking platform) all center around longevity. Something thats coming to be viewed as unprofitable... unless you're charging monthly subscriptions.

Towowo2:

Until PC's have the ease of access of a console, I fail to see how consoles are a fad.
Your average gamer really doesn't want to deal with the hassle that can sometimes comes with them.

Accessibility just makes people lazier.

What would you expect from a monopole company... without competition they wont make extra work to please us (the bastards... )

Great article. I agree completely. The MS install base is huge. Sadly they're caught in a pissing contest with Nintendo, while the PC gamers are left out to dry (mostly). But the PC platform will outlive any console.

In regards to Steamworks, it's just freaking awesome. I have zero complaints with steam. It's a great network.

The thing is this, if Microsoft decided to pool the resources to the PC side of gaming that they put towards the Xbox (you know, the one they can make money off of licensing the ability of a developer to put a game on there), then a year from now this article would be reprinted with the term PC replaced with Xbox.

There are a lot of people putting out games for PC (if the PC will never die crowd are to be believed and I don't have any reason to doubt them) then by Microsoft focusing on the hardware they can make the most money on makes sense (Why fight against Steam and lose money when you can work with them and be in a position to make money from your operating system. The minute they try to fight Steam, Steam will be all over Apples cock and make it so that's the system they recommend, causing many to switch over) and just be glad that there are the options that we have

Hopeless Bastard":
Accessibility just makes people lazier.

It's got absolutly nothing to do with being lazy. Console gamers are not those tech nerds with jobs revolving around computers. They are largely parents, professionals, and generally busy individuals who NEED gaming to be quick and accessible for it to be a viable part of their lifestyle. Troubleshooting for an hour just isn't an option when your lucky to squeeze in 90mins. of play time on a good day. Case in point : What is undoubtably the most successful PC game today? WOW. This is the typical stereotype of a PC gamer. Willing to sacrifice their whole life for gaming, now THAT is laziness.

imgunagitusucka:
It's got absolutly nothing to do with being lazy. Console gamers are not those tech nerds with jobs revolving around computers. They are largely parents, professionals, and generally busy individuals who NEED gaming to be quick and accessible for it to be a viable part of their lifestyle. Troubleshooting for an hour just isn't an option when your lucky to squeeze in 90mins. of play time on a good day. Case in point : What is undoubtably the most successful PC game today? WOW. This is the typical stereotype of a PC gamer. Willing to sacrifice their whole life for gaming, now THAT is laziness.

I started PC gaming when I was 10 with zero prior experience. 17 years ago.

Acting like computers are hard to use is half of whats stopping most people from being able to use them. Acting like, "I'M TOO BUSY TO LEARN NEW THINGS" is the rest of it. Of course, public education successfully teaches only one thing, "learning sucks."

Not to mention, every single situation you listed is purest hyperbole.

Personally I've given up on Microsoft doing anything for PC gamers beyond the OS. Trying to milk a few extra dollars out of us by releasing some shitty port of an old console title because they've reach saturation point on sales in the console market isn't 'serving PC gaming', it's treating us like an old ex-girlfriend you go and fuck when you're not currently seeing anyone.

Not to mention that the old console ports MS itself trumpetted the loudest did very, very poorly in sales for the PC.

Epic ended up crying that piracy of the PC version of Gears of War was so bad that they wouldn't be releasing another Gears title for PC... Meanwhile totally ignoring the fact that the game had already saturated the 360 market so any gamers interested in it that had both platforms would almost certainly have it for the 360 (quite frankly, PC gamer interest in the title was quite low, especially after release and a lot of gamers crucified it)... Also, they ignored that the PC gaming community was still pissed at them for Unreal Tournament III.

Halo 2... well, you bundle a franchise that's about as popular as scabies with PC gamers with an new OS very few people had any interest in upgrading to and it's no wonder that Halo 2 did poorly, even after the DX9 patches (both unofficial and official) allowed it to be played on WinXP. Extra marks against it for claiming the game required the 3 year layover before PC tech was able to handle it... As a plan to encourage people to adopt Windows Vista they should have gone with the plan of making Vista not be a steaming pile of shit.

I've posted this before, but I will again.

Not doing enough? I don't think you have any idea what you are talking about. DirectX alone is enough to blow that out of the window(s). Sure, they lag behind in the digital distribution field, but they have done more for PC gaming than Valve can ever hope to. The most iconic franchises ever created are because of Microsoft. Age of Empires, Flight Sim, Mechwarrior, ect. Don't forget the free development tools like XNA and Visual Basic. LIVE Anywhere is another step, and that isn't just for PC gaming. It is for social networking overall.

Microsoft is publishing at least four PC titles that we know about, and there very well could be more. Fable 3, Spartan, Flight Sim LIVE, and a Carnie port are all on the radar. For all we know, there is a ton more. Plus, it seems everyone forgot about the PC/360 game, Mechwarrior. That is another Microsoft franchise that was licensed out to Smith and Tinker, who's founder was the creator of the franchise.

tl;dr: Microsoft is doing plenty

I really think that is the wrong way to look at good old MS.

Let's face it, MS has made a truck load of money in the last 5 seconds, they made more then I earn in a year. So they don't really have to be bothered with it. They are making their money from Xbox Live and they know that their games for PC are basically a covering shit with shit situation. Sure maybe they should back it a bit more and not make so many promises.

But....

Look at what they are doing. They produce the most used OS in the world. Now that doesn't just mean the start menu, that means everything in the OS from DX to kernal scripts. And well bar their few messier releases of say vista and 98 (which if anyone is still complaining about, they can shove a large metal object where their daddy touched them last summer coz lets face it, your an idiot that just copy pasta'd his opinion directly from a bunch of wankers), they do a bloody good job.

So why fucking complain about them not producing games for the PC? Its not like they are good titles anyway.

I think some people take things a bit to serious. When MS say that windows gaming is the largest platform for gaming, they are not just talking about GFW, they mean every game released for PC....

I lost faith in Microsoft a long time ago. Not to mention Games for Windows Live made me go through so many hoops I just gave up.

However, it's very true that they are giving this approach where "There is no frustation if nothing happens but we are all pleasantly surprised if it happens". In all honesty, I have no faith in that latter part, they will keep yappin' but don't do a damn thing.

I love the current IP's from other publishers and I am not missing Microsoft Gaming Studios at all. Not at all my dear friend.

LoganN:
I've posted this before, but I will again.

Not doing enough? I don't think you have any idea what you are talking about. DirectX alone is enough to blow that out of the window(s). Sure, they lag behind in the digital distribution field, but they have done more for PC gaming than Valve can ever hope to. The most iconic franchises ever created are because of Microsoft. Age of Empires, Flight Sim, Mechwarrior, ect. Don't forget the free development tools like XNA and Visual Basic. LIVE Anywhere is another step, and that isn't just for PC gaming. It is for social networking overall.

Microsoft is publishing at least four PC titles that we know about, and there very well could be more. Fable 3, Spartan, Flight Sim LIVE, and a Carnie port are all on the radar. For all we know, there is a ton more. Plus, it seems everyone forgot about the PC/360 game, Mechwarrior. That is another Microsoft franchise that was licensed out to Smith and Tinker, who's founder was the creator of the franchise.

tl;dr: Microsoft is doing plenty

The only reason directx exists is because openGL was making microsoft look worse.

The only reason directx replaced openGL is because microsoft paid devs to use it.

Booze Zombie:
Consoles are a fad, computers will always be there and there have always been lulls in the action.

Not that I think computers are "better" than consoles, but PC's always seem to be the one's left standing after all of the impulsive buying is done.

I would disagree with you on that because saying that PCs outlive consoles is like saying SUVs outlive trucks. Yes, the specific console changes and improves from generation to generation but don't PCs do the same thing? The only difference is that you would upgrade things like video cards or hardware after a couple of years instead of consoles.

Hopeless Bastard:
The only reason directx exists is because openGL was making microsoft look worse.

The only reason directx replaced openGL is because microsoft paid devs to use it.

Microsoft used to ship OpenGL with its older operating systems. How does using it make them look bad?

DirectX replaced OpenGL because it is easier to use. A quick search comes up with absolutely no results of anyone being paid the use DirectX. They are both free, but one is much easier to program for.

LoganN:
Microsoft used to ship OpenGL with its older operating systems. How does using it make them look bad?

DirectX replaced OpenGL because it is easier to use. A quick search comes up with absolutely no results of anyone being paid the use DirectX. They are both free, but one is much easier to program for.

"Signing this contract forbids you from talking about signing this contract."

Well, Microsoft's main goal seems to keep the x360 competitive, and they just can't do it if they devote more attention to the PC and/or release their games in the two platforms. The reason for this is that a vast majority of console gamers have a PC as well, and if x360 games are also available on the PC, there is no reason to have the console instead of a PS3 or Wii for gamers that also have a PC, since Sony and Nintendo have their own extremely high profile exclusives.

Microsoft can either fight for the survival of the xbox brand or support PC gaming, and right now they are doing the first.

Also, with Steam and Activision-Blizzard doing the job of keeping PC gaming alive, Microsoft doesn't really need to support it as much.

Hopeless Bastard:

LoganN:
Microsoft used to ship OpenGL with its older operating systems. How does using it make them look bad?

DirectX replaced OpenGL because it is easier to use. A quick search comes up with absolutely no results of anyone being paid the use DirectX. They are both free, but one is much easier to program for.

"Signing this contract forbids you from talking about signing this contract."

So, basically, it was a baseless assumption that you have no evidence to back it up with.

Nice.

Hopeless Bastard:

DirectX replaced OpenGL because it is easier to use. A quick search comes up with absolutely no results of anyone being paid the use DirectX. They are both free, but one is much easier to program for.

"Signing this contract forbids you from talking about signing this contract."[/quote]

Then please enlighten us all as to how you know about this secret little gem of information?

I think you're missing the mark completely. Microsoft's support for Windows gaming is DirectX and XNA. They're providing tools for other devs to work with. They provide the base engine, that as .kkrieger showed allowed for a fully functioning (if a bit limited) FPS to come in at under 1MB. The next level is Epic, Valve and id who make game engines for other companies to customise. That's how it works, Microsoft continues updating DirectX, Epic keeps releasing updated versions of the Unreal Engine to take advantage of the new features in new versions of DirectX, and smaller devs take the Unreal Engine to make the game they want. Microsoft's support of gaming is great, and that's why they had such a push to win over OpenGL. Also, just compare the number of Xbox exclusives vs Windows XP and Xbox 360 Exclusives vs Windows Vista/7. The 360 has hardly any, so Microsoft has brought more games that were formerly console exclusives over to Windows, and have provided so much for PC gaming to make the 360 thoroughly uninteresting.

If Microsoft would keep more 360 exclusives, allow any peripheral in games and kill the subscription fee, it would be a major blow to Windows gaming, but they're actually keeping things balanced and quite appealing that way, and Windows and PlayStation are neck and neck for me as my favourite home gaming platform.

Does anybody even remember how hard they touted 360 and PC cross platform online multi-player. That disappeared right after Shadowrun was more or less a flop, didn't it?

migo:
I think you're missing the mark completely. Microsoft's support for Windows gaming is DirectX and XNA. They're providing tools for other devs to work with.

It's also certainly true that GFWL sucks; Steam (and even Impulse) does what GFWL does, better.

MS seems to have moved away from publishing games and focusing on the platform to make games: DirectX and XNA. One does not need to be a publisher to make money from games.

While there are problems with Microsoft's gaming products, DirectX is still the standard gaming library (and that doesn't look it will change any time soon) and they have a competitor to the major games distribution platform. This is almost certain to provide far more money than publishing games with less risk.

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