E3 2016: Microsoft Rewrites Rules of PC Gaming

Microsoft’s E3 press conference was undoubtedly more focused on Xbox (considering there is a giant sign on stage that says Xbox, illuminated anyone that stood in front of it). That’s not too surprising either considering Microsoft was there to announce not one, but two brand new consoles; the Xbox One S (a slim Xbox One, starting at $299), and Project Scorpio, the alleged graphical powerhouse that could bring true 4K gaming and VR to consoles. However, console gamers are not the only who need to rejoice with Microsoft.

During the event, Microsoft not only pushed their current and upcoming consoles, but also the integration with other systems. Xbox’s “Play Anywhere” solution will integrate cross-platform play across iOS, Android, Xbox and Windows. Furthermore, Play Anywhere syncs your content across all of your platforms, meaning that you never have to double-buy a game again–hopefully.

At first glance, it may seem like Microsoft is shooting themselves in the foot with this move, considering that they would lose revenue if people only had to buy a game once as opposed to multiple times, however, by allowing a system like this to be in place, Microsoft is opening up the floodgates in a huge way to PC and mobile platforms. Not only that, it delivers an opportunity for their users to experience the games they want while still keeping their heads above water.

The focus seemed to also be on the synonymous branding of the Xbox and Windows 10 platforms. Minecraft and some in-house developed title you’ve never heard of (and probably don’t care about) that are going to be adopting this system. Games like Gears of War 4 (October 11), Forza Horizon 3 (September 27), Recore (September 13), and Halo Wars 2 (February 21, 2017) are some of the titles currently confirmed for the integration. The system is similar to Sony’s Cross-Buy system (titles transferred from PlayStation 3 to PS Vita), however this way integrates two separate niches of gamers under one room as opposed to just picking out the individuals who use a particular brand of console.

Microsoft
Gears of War 4 artwork

The one major stipulation of all of this talk is that the system actually works. PC gamers are no strangers to Microsoft’s attempts to integrate the platforms, usually seeing the short end of the stick. Services like Games for Windows Live, and even the Windows 10 game store have put a bad taste of this sort of talk in the mouth of PC gamers. However, with time comes progression, and hopefully Microsoft has learned the errors of the past to perfect a system of the future.

Time will tell, but I’m certainly excited for what Microsoft has up their sleeve. While there will be pros and cons, the change will provide a route for Xbox Exclusives to be shared with the PC market, and that is something to get excited about. This satisfies two markets that, in what we’ve from the Xbox Press Conference, Microsoft is trying to unite.
While Microsoft has failed in the past, they may offer up a route to truly play without boundaries.



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