Game Stash: Microsoft’s Missed Opportunity

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I could really care less if MS never came through on PC gaming. It would be nice to have their support in terms of getting more games released on PC quicker, or those that are released, more compatible with Windows' various issues, but whatever. As long as there's Valve and Steam bearing the PC torch, I'm fine.

Microsoft owns the mall, what do they need to open a store for? As long as they keep the electricity and plumbing in good order and don't inconvenience me much, I'm happy.

Good article - love the comparison to Duke Nukem Forever. It's a great analogy.

Microsoft, procrastinating like me!

*gasp*

I share a common trait with an evil, greedy company? I must repent!

*pledges to work on the stuff he needs to tomorrow*

OT: I always wondered why Microsoft never took advantage of the fact that they truly are the best platform for PC gaming. In anycase, the fact I can't install older games on 7 still has me steamed.

It's entirely unclear for me that Games for Windows has done much of anything for consumers or the industry as a whole. It's a great way to sell XBox 360-for-PC controllers and flout Windows' rather measely gamer-oriented features, but that's about it. As a platform (Games For Windows Live), it's a pain in the ass; since Microsoft realized that they weren't going to succeed in getting PC gamers to pay for the kind of network gaming features that they'd been used to getting for free for years, there's been little incentive for them to make improvements.

If Microsoft really believed in Windows as a gaming platform, they'd be encouraging other developers to make sure their marquee titles came to Windows, making sure the development kits were well-supported and easy to use, taking in and making widely available statistics about the kind of hardware Windows was being run on so developers would know where to aim their system requirements... And doing more to insure that what played in XP played in Vista played in 7, whether 32- or 64-bit.

Instead, Microsoft has actually prevented XBox 360 titles from coming to the PC, sometimes so their favorite gaming child can have an "exclusive", sometimes for little to no good reason at all.

Yeah, it would be nice if they'd stop lying to us. It's gone way past the point of being white lies of the "of course we love you, too" variety. Now it's just kind of insulting.

Callate:
It's entirely unclear for me that Games for Windows has done much of anything for consumers or the industry as a whole. It's a great way to sell XBox 360-for-PC controllers and flout Windows' rather measely gamer-oriented features, but that's about it.

It provides an example of unity among PC games. Even if it is just box art, it helps define PC gaming.

As a platform (Games For Windows Live), it's a pain in the ass; since Microsoft realized that they weren't going to succeed in getting PC gamers to pay for the kind of network gaming features that they'd been used to getting for free for years, there's been little incentive for them to make improvements.

PC to PC multiplayer has always been free. Only the PC to 360 multiplayer was charged for. People got involved, and the misconception spread.

If Microsoft really believed in Windows as a gaming platform, they'd be encouraging other developers to make sure their marquee titles came to Windows, making sure the development kits were well-supported and easy to use, taking in and making widely available statistics about the kind of hardware Windows was being run on so developers would know where to aim their system requirements... And doing more to insure that what played in XP played in Vista played in 7, whether 32- or 64-bit.

Instead, Microsoft has actually prevented XBox 360 titles from coming to the PC, sometimes so their favorite gaming child can have an "exclusive", sometimes for little to no good reason at all.

Yeah, it would be nice if they'd stop lying to us. It's gone way past the point of being white lies of the "of course we love you, too" variety. Now it's just kind of insulting.

But they are... Microsoft is publish four games for the PC that we know about so far, probably more will be announced at Gamescom. They are making more games than everyone's go to guys at Valve.

Plus, the games they make are almost always top notch. Tell me you didn't have fun with Viva Pinata or Age of Empires.

If Linux Gaming would be brought up to speed to the same level as Windows Gaming, I will die happy... I really don't know what's the problem with Linux, anyway! They could at least increase their horizons by porting games to Linux. Hell, even if the Windows or XBOX release is earlier than the Linux port, I will be still glad! Hopefully, the future Steam Client for Linux would bring more games to Linux.

Hopeless Bastard:
Accessibility just makes people lazier.

I think of it more as "Laziness makes accessibility more lucrative."

The problem with Linux gaming is that most games now a days uses directX which is a windows only technology, Linux uses OpenGL.

So in order for more games to appear on Linux they would have to be OpenGL based and that doesn't seem to happen any time soon.

Callate:
If Microsoft really believed in Windows as a gaming platform, they'd be encouraging other developers to make sure their marquee titles came to Windows, making sure the development kits were well-supported and easy to use, taking in and making widely available statistics about the kind of hardware Windows was being run on so developers would know where to aim their system requirements... And doing more to insure that what played in XP played in Vista played in 7, whether 32- or 64-bit.

This is sort of where it falls apart for me. How can Microsoft encourage developers to do something that Microsoft itself is failing to do? There was a time when first party PC game development was a priority for the company. One (barely) new IP in the last six ore seven years just isn't going to prove the company's ceaseless claims that it really supports the platform. Throw in the studio cancellations for even more proof.

Sure, we're seeing some motion towards creating a solid infrastructure for other developers to use, but the success of Steamworks proves that Microsoft has been putting its efforts in the wrong places. It owns the entire platform outright but it's clearly a failure that it takes a third-party like Valve to give us practical solutions to our actual problems.

LoganN:

As a platform (Games For Windows Live), it's a pain in the ass; since Microsoft realized that they weren't going to succeed in getting PC gamers to pay for the kind of network gaming features that they'd been used to getting for free for years, there's been little incentive for them to make improvements.

PC to PC multiplayer has always been free. Only the PC to 360 multiplayer was charged for. People got involved, and the misconception spread.

Uhm.... wasn't it so, that you had to have a gold account to play Universe at War in ranked/ladder/matchmaking, until they changed it to being free for chaps playing on the PC?

Steve Butts:
Sure, we're seeing some motion towards creating a solid infrastructure for other developers to use, but the success of Steamworks proves that Microsoft has been putting its efforts in the wrong places. It owns the entire platform outright but it's clearly a failure that it takes a third-party like Valve to give us practical solutions to our actual problems.

So if I'm reading this right, what you're really saying is you want a new Crimson Skies game for the PC.

Well, that and the closure of Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios

WHAT?! I think I'll be in the corner, mourning the creator of the game that got me into PC gaming in the first place.

Well, I hate GFWL (Goddamn Faliure Wank Lunacy). I'm glad everyone is abandoning it.

I just hope Microsoft gets the right idea and actually does something.

Didn't Microsoft originally try charging for PC GFWL subscriptions, like they do with X-Box Live? Only PC users weren't a captive audience, choice meant that was never going to work. I think this is why they concentrate on X-Box, last figure I read was somewhere in the vicinity of US$600 million they make just for letting 360 users have the privilege of playing online.

Hopeless Bastard:

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.

So your original post accusing console gamers of being lazy wasn't hyperbole? No wonder you omitted it from this post eh? You've had 17 years of P.C. gaming experience, being brought along with all of the advancements in technology as they happened and then have the arrogance to call people lazy if they choose a different platform to play games on. PC gamers like you give the rest a bad name, so full of themselves that they are blind to the fact that people couldn't care less about how much YOU know about computers and how easy it all is for you. This is why consoles are 'beneath' you, because you get no ego boost out of the delusion that you are superior in some way. Get over yourself buddy.

Um i'd rather not have microsoft make games. I REALLY dislike GFWL. Probably the most annoying and intrusive drm i've had to deal with in games. Yes i realize once im sign on it leaves me well alone cept for the occasional achievement popup.

the reasoning is the inconvenience of having to log on to a service AFTER starting the game is the fact I almost always have to do a password recovery for it, since as steve has mention not all that many games for PC are GFWL required. Something i hardly use i'm not gonna remember.

I just plain don't like Microsoft. i use their software begrudgingly because im a layman, lazy, and a PC Gamer. otherwise i generally just try to stay away from GFWL required games.

Frostbite3789:
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?

Because they had to massively underpower PC players as they have more accuracy with mouse and keyboard.

They wanted to continue it and Shadowrun was a test but it would require too much editing of every game to make cross-platform fair.

gl1koz3:
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.

Totally agreed.

Microsoft should focus on the operating system and its other core products like server and tools and Office. Microsoft can never be as focused on gaming as a smaller dedicated game development shop, simply because it's such a large and diverse company. And Microsoft has ALWAYS focused on the platform and the channel: Microsoft builds and supports the best possible platform (in this case Windows and DirectX and such) and the channel (Valve, Blizzard, whatever) can then build the best possible games.

I pray that Microsoft keeps it's grubby hands out of the gaming market. The company is a monopolistic monstrosity. Every other product they have made uses brute force to take over a market. Microsoft office is far from the best office software on the market, but it is the dominate one since it comes packaged with many windows installs, and is not compatible with other office software. The Same with IE.

I really don't want to see Starcraft 2 become unplayable because Microsoft came out with a RTS, and doesn't want competition.

Microsoft is in a bit of a bind because while they do own the vast majority of PC desktops, they're also competing with their own platform in the XBOX 360. I think it was a mistake for them to even bother with Games For Windows unless it was going to be stellar, and it just hasn't been, like so many things Microsoft does. They seem to settle for blunt-force mediocrity that sometimes takes off and sometimes doesn't.

I always thought Microsoft supporting the PC as a platform for gaming seemed a little unusual, as if people who had computers didn't know you could game with them. To me, the best thing they can do is make all the tools available to other companies to create PC games, and they could probably do with opening up GFW to more developers, but even if they canned that entire concept, it wouldn't break my heart as an avid PC gamer. If they threw all that support and effort behind backing someone like Valve, that would be even better.

Unlike Sony or Nintendo, and even unlike Apple, Microsoft has very little to do with any of the hardware their number one product, the Windows OS, runs on. So the very idea of a 'Games for Windows' seems a little misplaced, since what will run very nicely on my gaming rig will run only decently on my laptop, and not at all on my netbook, but they're all running various flavors of Windows. I have to wonder if that's been a source of confusion among the broader consumer market, both for that reason and for the average person wandering the computer gaming isle at a big box store and puzzling over why some PC games say 'Games for Windows' and others don't.

But whether it's about how great the Zune is going to be, or Windows phone, or Kinect, or Vista, Microsoft does tend to create some pretty serious perception versus reality issues with the promises they make, and that does extend to GFW.

GamesB2:
Because they had to massively underpower PC players as they have more accuracy with mouse and keyboard.

Yeah, I figured this had a lot do with it too, better accuracy, faster aiming. Is there a downside?

Microsoft fanboys would point out, i have actually read this argument, that well ms supports and develops directx making games easier to make and better looking, they will go on and on about the wonders of directx development and dx 8 vs 10 vs etc.

Problem is microsoft used to make great games, they used to take risks to a degree, when pc was their sole bread and butter we saw games like age of empires, mechwarrior, and a bunch of other quality games that had microsofts actual name on the box.

But why should ms support pc? now that they have a console, there is very little incentive for them to do any development for pc other than making sure directx makes any games that someone wants to make for pc run well on pc. But xbl people pay for, want a game on xbox? pay microsoft a fee to get it on there, sell more games because people that could not afford a high end gaming rig or we just anti pc tech scared, got a console. piracy also is a disincentive for ms to support gaming on pc, sales prove that when games get a synched release for pc and consoles they sell fewer copies as a certain segment of the buyers chooses to get the game free for pc vs buy it for console. the frequent delay for pc games is because they sell more when said pirates are just too impatient and go out and buy the game on console.

I see more devs and ceo types talking about non platform gaming more and more as cloud and other new wiz game anywhere on anything services start to arise. This could be the thing that puts pc back in the driver seat, more accessable gaming for a wider range of pcs. developers smacking their lips over the fact that lest at this point and time cloud based gaming seems to be pretty pirate proof.

for ms to get off their console first, pc last mentality. a more than likely combo of things would need to happen, piracy on xbox would need to skyrocket, and i mean like 1000% since piracy on xbox takes some effort, and there are so many of them it would really have to jump to get ms to move off the xbox's jock. people would have to bail on xbl with the piracy trend. cloud would really have to be the end all be all of gaming easy and security. And microsoft would have to get rid of a number of suits at ms that just do not give a damn about games period.

To expand on the last point i could point over the years how microsoft just totally shit on the gaming community. A few highly popular IPs with successful games in the past, like mechwarrior and shadowrun. Ms snapped up the rights for years ago, made a few mw games that got gret reviews and were great sellers. Then what happened? mechwarrior just up and vanished, ms had the rights to it yet they did absolutely nothing with them.

shadowrun a ip that had several rpgs on early consoles some of which were really good, and a fairly popular pnp rpg, especially in europe, and microsoft sat on them and sat and sat. finally they announced a shadowrun game sr fans were elated finally after all these years sr was going to get the game it deserved a........a fps? WTF? meanwhile while sr fans railed at microsofts treatment of a rpg ip, microsoft did them one better. a small company was working on a proof of concept for a shadowrun mmo, they had a engine they had art they had assets, said they had working client etc. they were simply showing it could be done and had a rabid fanbase that would want to play it and wanted to present it to microsoft. it went on for awhile they seemed to have tacit ok to processed and continue work, but when things were getting to you know a finishing point stuff was running art was modeled and textured, microsoft sent them a cease and desist order. now maybe wires got mixed up, maybe ms never expressly said sure go ahead with it, but they never sent the lawyers down until the proof was pretty damn far along.

I know microsoft does not like mmos. they in fact loathe them. i mean why not when you can churn out 100 fps games that sell a million + copies to slobbering xbox fans that just cannot seem to get enough of the latest fps of the month games, for the basic cost of maybe half the development costs of a modern day mmo. nevermind that typical mmos are pc only, and are generally unwieldy on consoles, tho ms would have gotten a pass on the xbl fees i am sure, but the controls of most mmos are not console friendly. but really why would ms want to invest 200 million + in an mmo that is pc based, that would will not see return on your investment for about 5 years, if the game does not flop utterly, and while you can make a generic fps game for maybe 20-50 million in a year or twos time and get it out the door.

RhombusHatesYou:
So if I'm reading this right, what you're really saying is you want a new Crimson Skies game for the PC.

Finally! Someone understands me.

Seriously, I once asked the new head of the Games for Windows group how MS could claim to be supporting the PC when all the great PC exclusive franchises like Crimson Skies and Mechwarrior and Midtown Madness were showing up as watered-down Xbox exclusives. His response was to laugh at me and ask, "You seriously think those are great franchises?"

At that point, I kind of new MS was out of touch with what it was losing.

Maybe Microsoft means they're supporting PC Development over making games. Direct X is still about 3 years ahead of Open GL in terms of flashy new features and it's also (IMO at least) a lot more... intuitive to use.

I didn't know you were such a joker, "steam's copy protection". lol it has about same meanind as protection wanting CD to start. Absolutely common to be removed.

Maybe Microsoft means they're supporting PC Development over making games. Direct X is still about 3 years ahead of Open GL in terms of flashy new features and it's also (IMO at least) a lot more... intuitive to use.

Steve Butts:

RhombusHatesYou:
So if I'm reading this right, what you're really saying is you want a new Crimson Skies game for the PC.

Finally! Someone understands me.

Seriously, I once asked the new head of the Games for Windows group how MS could claim to be supporting the PC when all the great PC exclusive franchises like Crimson Skies and Mechwarrior and Midtown Madness were showing up as watered-down Xbox exclusives. His response was to laugh at me and ask, "You seriously think those are great franchises?"

At that point, I kind of new MS was out of touch with what it was losing.

Why would he think those WEREN'T great franchises? Was he just using sales numbers or something like that?

The older gamer generation has been aching for a true blood mechwarrior sequel for years and years now. Crimson Skies was (in my opinion) a slightly buggy PC game, but it was still a damn lot of fun and it just oozed character which can't be said of many modern games.

Oh, Microsoft :(

Andronicus:

Hopeless Bastard:
Accessibility just makes people lazier.

I think of it more as "Laziness makes accessibility more lucrative."

The lazier people are, the more accessible things need to be, which makes people lazier.

The final form of accessibility as a business model is children's television with blood, tits, and shaky cam.

imgunagitusucka:
blah blah blah

I'm sorry, but you can't really make me feel guilty for having the capacity to learn new things.

You also apparently missed the significance of "17 years ago." computers have evolved from dumb machines in front of smart people to smart machines in front of dumb people. I got in pretty much at the tipping point, which just says to me, pretty much anyone shouldn't have any real trouble.

Not to mention, every time the "i just wanna put it in and play" bit comes up, I have to groan, because well, I've "installed" console games and ran PC games directly from a disc. Then when you have steam games removing even the "stick it in" step, the bit just loses all meaning.

Hopeless Bastard:

Andronicus:

Hopeless Bastard:
Accessibility just makes people lazier.

I think of it more as "Laziness makes accessibility more lucrative."

The lazier people are, the more accessible things need to be, which makes people lazier.

The final form of accessibility as a business model is children's television with blood, tits, and shaky cam.

imgunagitusucka:
blah blah blah

I'm a Douche

Finally something we can agree on

Hopeless Bastard:

Andronicus:

Hopeless Bastard:
Accessibility just makes people lazier.

I think of it more as "Laziness makes accessibility more lucrative."

The lazier people are, the more accessible things need to be, which makes people lazier.

The final form of accessibility as a business model is children's television with blood, tits, and shaky cam.

imgunagitusucka:
blah blah blah

I'm sorry, but you can't really make me feel guilty for having the capacity to learn new things.

You also apparently missed the significance of "17 years ago." computers have evolved from dumb machines in front of smart people to smart machines in front of dumb people. I got in pretty much at the tipping point, which just says to me, pretty much anyone shouldn't have any real trouble.

Not to mention, every time the "i just wanna put it in and play" bit comes up, I have to groan, because well, I've "installed" console games and ran PC games directly from a disc. Then when you have steam games removing even the "stick it in" step, the bit just loses all meaning.

I agree with Hopeless Bastard here. You simply do not need to know much about PC's or hardware now-a-days to play PC games. You, of course, need to know the basics of using the windows operating system, but by the sheer nature of being on here I assume pretty much everyone is capable of installing software to a desired folder (which a game is) and double clicking an icon.

Everything is hand held now. If Direct X is out of date, it will automatically update for you. If you're video drivers aren't up to snuff, I've seen lots of games warn you then provide you with a link to download the new ones. How do you install these drivers? Just run an executable wait about 1 minute for it to finish then continue on.

There is no longer mystical IRQ conflicts, a billion sound cards with proprietary transports so you have to know exactly what you're doing, there is no longer long and complicated Setup.bat files from the DOS days - all of that is gone. Things are as easy as they've ever been, and with so many games being console ports and the fantastic popularity of the UE3 engine, requirements for games are pretty low compared to the old "push the envelope" mentality on the PC.

As long as people play PC games, They are going to need PCs to play them on. Microsoft is just letting other companies do the work for them.
image
I think it's working out quite well.

I really don't get this argument. I don't want Microsoft to make games. At all.

I just want them to provide a decent OS that allows real gaming companies to provide kick ass games. I don't want Microsoft thinking they need to compete with those companies and thus manipulating the platform (OS) to allow them to have an edge over other gaming companies. I don't want them forcing GFW on developers so that they can get a piece of the pie. In fact if we have to give up directX and go back to an open model like OpenGL, I could live with that. And Microsoft's continual development of directX surely shows a commitment to the PC as a gaming platform.

Microsoft doesn't need to provide games to allow PC games to thrive. In fact I think it is counter productive.

ahpuch:
I really don't get this argument. I don't want Microsoft to make games. At all.

I just want them to provide a decent OS that allows real gaming companies to provide kick ass games. I don't want Microsoft thinking they need to compete with those companies and thus manipulating the platform (OS) to allow them to have an edge over other gaming companies. I don't want them forcing GFW on developers so that they can get a piece of the pie. In fact if we have to give up directX and go back to an open model like OpenGL, I could live with that. And Microsoft's continual development of directX surely shows a commitment to the PC as a gaming platform.

Microsoft doesn't need to provide games to allow PC games to thrive. In fact I think it is counter productive.

This argument is coming up a lot. What's the difference between MS making PC games and the other first-party console developers? MS makes 360 games, Sony makes PS3 games, and Nintendo makes Wii and DS games. How is that less objectionable than MS making PC games?

Steve Butts:

ahpuch:
I really don't get this argument. I don't want Microsoft to make games. At all.

I just want them to provide a decent OS that allows real gaming companies to provide kick ass games. I don't want Microsoft thinking they need to compete with those companies and thus manipulating the platform (OS) to allow them to have an edge over other gaming companies. I don't want them forcing GFW on developers so that they can get a piece of the pie. In fact if we have to give up directX and go back to an open model like OpenGL, I could live with that. And Microsoft's continual development of directX surely shows a commitment to the PC as a gaming platform.

Microsoft doesn't need to provide games to allow PC games to thrive. In fact I think it is counter productive.

This argument is coming up a lot. What's the difference between MS making PC games and the other first-party console developers? MS makes 360 games, Sony makes PS3 games, and Nintendo makes Wii and DS games. How is that less objectionable than MS making PC games?

I think there is a conflict of interest for MS in supporting games on the PC vs XBox. I think some of the issues we see with them releasing on XBox vs PC is a result of this conflict.

Additionally, there is a risk of conflict between games that MS makes vs other companies. Microsoft would rather you bought their game instead the one from BioWare or Valve. I accept that this is the same model that is applied to consoles but it is a model I do not care for. The controls that Console makers put on content on their consoles is one reason I don't own a console. If PC gaming was ever subject to the same content restrictions, that would really be the death of PC gaming. Is it happening now, no. Is it a risk, unlikely. But all the same, it is simply an issue I prefer to avoid.

Also, I overstated my point to rebut that MS not making PC games is an indicator that PC gaming is dying or that MS doesn't support games on the PC.

Steve Butts:

RhombusHatesYou:
So if I'm reading this right, what you're really saying is you want a new Crimson Skies game for the PC.

Finally! Someone understands me.

Seriously, I once asked the new head of the Games for Windows group how MS could claim to be supporting the PC when all the great PC exclusive franchises like Crimson Skies and Mechwarrior and Midtown Madness were showing up as watered-down Xbox exclusives. His response was to laugh at me and ask, "You seriously think those are great franchises?"

At that point, I kind of new MS was out of touch with what it was losing.

I'd have cut his face off to expose the soulless troglodyte hiding behind the skin mask.

Anyone who can't see the potential behind those franchises is not only soulless but a bit thick as well. The Crimson Skies and Mechwarrior franchises speak to the geek on an almost instinctive level, they're perfectly designed to empty the wallet without conscious thought getting in the way because it's too busy going "fuck yeah! that sounds sooooo fucking cool!".

Also, the fact that these franchises were being shunted over to the console seems to say that someone on that side of things knew they had some worth.

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