Saturday, January 8, 2011

Microsoft To Push PC Gaming In Windows 8 (Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before)


Shortly before Christmas came word from the usual tech rumour mill sites that with the upcoming Windows 8 OS Microsoft will be heavily promoting the idea of the PC as a gaming platform.

You may notice that this sounds somewhat familiar, as it's precisely what they said with the launch of Windows Vista, Games For Windows Live, Windows XP and probably DOS for all I know (I'm not that old).

I've already castigated Games For Windows Live multiple times on this blog, and rightly so because for the most part it is a load of crap that pales when compared to Steam or even Impulse.  What seems more likely is that Microsoft have seen the tremendous revenues that Steam is producing, both for Valve themselves and also the developers and publishers who push their works out to Steam, and have figured they want in on that.  Knowing that GFWL is essentially tainted to the point of no return by most serious PC gamers, they may well be cooking up something that is baked into the OS itself, eliminating the need even for someone to have to go and download a client.

I can see potential in this, but I'm sure that GFWL is going to make an appearance in here somewhere.  Frankly I am of the opinion that the entire GFWL system as a whole needs a 100% revamp from top to bottom, including the client, backend online store and the services that support them.  Only then can it even hope to compete with Steam which at this point dominates the PC digital distribution market.  I'm not saying Microsoft needs to just put out a Steam clone, but Valve have been innovating and tinkering with Steam for over five years now.  Some things haven't worked out, but others have been a massive success.  By comparison, GFWL has only existed for a couple of years and has really gotten the short end of the stick from Microsoft, who love to throw money at X-Box Live instead of trying to promote and expand PC gaming.

This will probably just turn out to be a lot of hot air anyway.  Microsoft have continually let PC gamers down over the years, whether that has been making Vista's gaming performance worse than XP's, treating a great new IP like Freelancer like crap, and then getting out of the PC game publishing business altogether.  Contrast this to Valve, Stardock or hell even Electronic Arts (recently at least) who have been pushing the PC hard as a gaming platform of equal status to the PS3 and X-Box 360 and it's clear that it's easy to put out press releases and slip a few rumours here and there about how much you love PC gaming, but putting your money where your mouth is and actually doing something about it is what separates the men from the boys.

Colour me highly sceptical until I see some solid proposals from Microsoft about how they mean to achieve this purported focus in Windows 8.  I'll be the guy over here playing games with my friends - on Steam.

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