Microsoft has made it evident that it doesn’t see Xbox One as the only gaming platform they can proudly call their own.
After all, Windows on PC has always been a major platform, arguably one that has been setting technical and visual standards for past two decades, and one that is expected to continue to do so for a long while.
Many mistook Phil Spencer’s comments earlier this month (including ourselves) as a plan to add hardware upgrades to the Xbox One in the future.
Spencer later clarified that he wasn’t actually planning to force users to open their consoles with a screwdriver set, but actually meant to highlight the importance of the Xbox One taking inspiration from PC as becoming an evolutionary device instead of one that has to wait to be succeeded by a new generation.
Spencer’s words remain vague and unclear about Microsoft’s plans for the Xbox One, but one thing is clear: the firm does see PC as a viable, standard-setting gaming platform.
Microsoft has already sought to align its Windows 10 and Xbox One development activities under one wing: the “Universal Windows Platform.” This is one of the reason many of the Xbox One games this year are releasing on Windows itself.
However, if Microsoft is serious about making Windows 10 a major gaming platform and also usurping Valve’s Steam as the number one client on PC, they must improve the Windows Store.
In order to develop and offer major games on Windows 10, Microsoft must implement a gaming service client that rivals Steam.
We saw a failed attempt of this roughly a decade ago in the form of the well-forgotten Games for Windows initiative, which eventually had to be discontinued in 2013 because of simply failing to live up to the standards of Valve’s regulative application.
Games for Windows however was a flawed effort that was doomed to failure because Microsoft at that time had no intention of integrating Xbox One and Windows development under one category. This part has obviously changed, and now in order to give PC and Xbox One users the best services across the two platforms in a seamless fashion, there has to be a hub.
Two possibilities exist: they bring the Xbox One marketplace to Windows 10. However, there are heavy speculations that an Xbox One Windows 10 Store is coming in June to Microsoft’s console, which indicates that Windows 10 Store will indeed be the common hub of both the platforms.
The Windows 10 Store is, at the moment, a clunky, confused, and badly organized cluster of applications. There’s little reason why anyone outside of tablet-users would even care to ever open the store, let alone explore it and find its flaws.
Those who have bothered to do so will know that it falls well behind Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store. Microsoft must improve the Windows 10 Store if it wants any hope of this integration being remotely successful, and especially if the company wants to challenge Steam as the prime gaming shelf on PC.
Steam’s success isn’t just based on its dedication to videogames, but also heavily on the application itself. It’s a simple, effective, and efficient application that behaves as a virtual shelf, a store, and almost a dedicated platform. These are the very reasons why the concept of a Steam-based console has now become a reality.
Valve’s Steam is essentially a massive signpost that reads, “We can bring the console experience to PC.” By console experience, I obviously mean the simplicity of having access to purchase games, stores, and everything related in one screen.
Microsoft needs to replicate this through Windows 10 Store, and to do that, it needs to be fixed. Badges need to be added to differentiate between games that run on mobile tablets, and also dedicated PC titles that you’ll need proper rigs for. In addition, the entire search and categorization system needs to be revamped.
Mixing Steam’s simplicity and effectiveness with Xbox One’s current tiles-inspired accessibility is all that is really needed. After that, Windows 10 can behave as the prime regulatory application for all things gaming, while offering mobile/tablet applications to those who need them as well.
This, in my opinion, isn’t an optional tweak, but an utmost necessity. The “Universal Windows Platform” scheme demands it, as does Microsoft’s objective of bringing major Xbox One titles to PC.