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Microsoft still blasè over PC gamers

by Delyth Angharad (WelshPixie)  Posted Friday, May 31, 2013 11:45:00 AM

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A while back I wrote a few words about Windows 8, and might have mentioned in passing how Microsoft do not care much for PC gaming. Nay, some of you cried! Nay! That's just silly. PC gaming makes them money - why would they want to make such a poor business decision as killing it? Well, stay with me, cuz we're gonna toss some more wood on that fire with the help of Matt Booty, general manager of Microsoft's Redmond Game Studios and Platforms.

A Shacknews journalist at the XBox one reveal event asked him if any of the 15 exclusives announced for the Xbox One will see the light on PC. His response... well, it went like this:

"the Windows 8 gamer is certainly going to participate in some of that content"

Phew, great news! They're not leaving us out after all! THEY REALLY CARE! Or not. Somewhat more discouragingly, he THEN said:

"we have got everything from very, very casual games, like our very much improved and reimagined Solitaire, all the way to graphically complicated games like The Harvest"

The Harvest is a phone game. And I imagine you have to imagine very hard to imagine that a "reimagined" Solitaire is anything other than Solitaire, I imagine.

Their view of what "PC gaming" is seems to be more or less anything that can also work on their mobile platform. I have this feeling in my nethers that somewhere within the halls of Redmond a decision was made to ensure that the user experience of Windows 8 and onward stays as close as possible to that of Windows 8 on mobile devices.

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This is unsurprising. Recent figures show that when you combine all consumer-level operating systems in use, desktop and mobile, Microsoft Windows has less than 35% of the overall market share, and it's shrinking. This shrinkage is mostly from the one area where they continue to fail to make any impact; mobile. So the theory is that if they can somehow make that very touch-centric desktop (formerly known as Mehtro - sorry, Metro) ubiquitous, by forcing it upon desktop users, these same users won't be so averse to using it on their phones and tablets. So far this tactic is not working, but in some twisted way it seems logical enough that it could.

It's easy to argue that it'd be silly of them to disregard PC (as in Windows) gaming, but the truth is that they make very little money from it. That 35% market share may seem like a lot, but they get no cut from third party applications. Not yet, anyway. They are slowly buttering up the consumer to accept that Windows can be a closed ecosystem. This is what you are seeing; the buttering process. "Oooh, look at these awesome phone games we have for you on our shiny new phone-like interface, dear consumer! This is your future and you will love it!"

Do you still think Microsoft cares about you, oh ye nay-sayers, ye of solid faith in Microsoft's serious, committed relationship to PC gaming? Because I'm getting more and more unconvinced with every little snippet of ridiculous news they announce. They're turning the PC into a glorified tablet and want your experience from PC to tablet to be synchronous - if you can't play it on your tablet, they don't want you playing it on the PC. Let me make this very very clear - a tablet is not a desktop computer. It's somewhere between a mobile and a netbook. Sure, there are uber-powerful tablets out there like the Razer Edge (with 8GB of RAM, an i7 CPU capable of running at 3GHz and an NVidia 640 with 2GB of vRAM, it's really not to be laughed at) - and while you can play Crysis 3 on it, what you CAN'T do is play Crysis 3 at max settings with extra injected graphics at crazyhuge resolution for maximum graphical nerdgasming awesome. So yeah, still not a PC. Don't let them take your PCs away! :(

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There's more to life than Microsoft published games and XBox One exclusives, though. For now you still have Steam, and can still load games from third parties. And the PS4 from Sony, who seem to be stepping up their game and filling the dark holes of despair that Microsoft leave in their wake with brilliant shining light promising to be everything the XBox One won't - an actual gaming console, for playing actual real games on! Gosh! But it will be a sad affair when the current practice of timed exclusives start to shift to "exclusive exclusives". Let's hope at least that game developers keep supporting those of us who prefer PC gaming, even if the custodians of the currently most-used PC gaming OS has stopped doing so.

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd


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