It’s safe to say everybody isn’t fully on board with Microsoft’s suggestions that optional hardware upgrades for the Xbox One could be a way to extend the console’s reach. We’ll discuss some of the things that folks are not happy about, and what that means for you..
First off, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney let Microsoft have it with both barrels, claiming that the Universal Windows Platform (which would allow games to seemlessly translate from Xbox One to PC is an attempt by Microsoft to monopolize the PC market.
“Here, Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.
Microsoft has launched new PC Windows features exclusively in UWP, and is effectively telling developers you can use these Windows features only if you submit to the control of our locked-down UWP ecosystem. They’re curtailing users’ freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers”
I think there’s a bit of sour grapes here, (Epic recently announced its own game launcher, ala Steam or Origin) but the core of it has basis in fact. Right now, Microsoft is looking at Steam, which is the de facto PC store, and says “I want to get in on that”. The margins are great, you host their software, spend a bit of money on an interface, and let the developers and publishers do all the work, while you take a slice off the top. We’ll have to see going forward if games that which use UWP can go through Steam or Origin before we can really say if there’s a core of truth to this.
The other half is basically, console owners looking at the plans for optional upgrades and doing a collective face like someone had just let out a huge emission in church. To them, the core reason behind a console is that you don’t have to worry about wondering if a game is compatible, if your console is beefy enough to run “Latest Game X” (remember recommended and minimum builds?), or dealing with the myriad hardware options that come with a PC. Also, they consider the fact that unless certain optional upgrades become nearly mandatory upgrades (like.. “This optional upgrade is required to run this hot game”), then developers will be forced to make software based on the lowest common denominator, that is, for the base hardware configuration. That defeats the purpose of making upgrades optional!
I’ve been thinking about the plans for the last couple days. Microsoft IS trying to change the paradigm of consoles. They want to get out of the 7 to 10 year lifecycle for consoles, and get you in the mindset of going to the “Microsoft Store” to buy the Xbox One S Pro 6 (which is this year’s version of the Xbox One S Pro, compared to the Xbox One S Pro 5 from last year), and going to the Microsoft Store (ala the iTunes Apple Store) to buy your games since you can play them both on X1 and PC.
It’d be good for Microsoft.
I’m not sure it would be good for gamers.