Rumors of Microsoft taking a more aggressive stance in the PC gaming market have been swirling about since mid-2013. While Microsoft has claimed in the past to want to do more on the PC side of things, we’ve all seen the years come and go without much of an uptick in their first party PC titles. While Microsoft has completely failed with Games for Windows Live, they’ve also spearheaded the whole DirectX thing, which clearly the PC benefits from (as well as the Xbox). If you include DirectX, it’s decidedly been a pretty mixed bag in recent years.
In a reply to a tweet he received about the acquisition of the Rise of Nations IP, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer acknowledged the need for Microsoft to improve their current gaming status on the PC.
@Daniel_H_UK I agree that MS needs to up our gaming presence on Windows. Part of my XBOX role is to bring back our Windows gaming focus.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) May 31, 2014
Microsoft has clearly been going through a structural change in recent months, with Satya Nadella stepping in as CEO, Stephen Elop joining as VP of devices and services, and Phil Spencer rising to the head of the Xbox division. With Phil Spencer at the helm of Microsoft’s gaming division, it’s possible that we could finally see some cool stuff coming out for the PC. In a piece we wrote in April of 2014, we explored 10 Microsoft Studios franchises they could revive for the PC. Soon after our article was written, Microsoft announced and released an HD update for Age of Mythology, a game on our list.
With E3 so close, the topics that Mr. Spencer is tweeting about might indicate more about Microsoft’s short-term plans than you might think. By the time a person gets to that level in a corporation, it’s very likely they’ll have handlers assigned to their official social media pages, as well as approved and unapproved topics. It’s almost a given that Microsoft is in some stage of development with a new Age of Empires game. Combine that with sequels to Age of Mythology and Rise of Nations, suddenly Microsoft’s captured a significant portion of the RTS landscape on PC. A cross-platform release of a previously Xbox One exclusive game like Forza or Halo could really change things in a major way. Of course this is all crazy theory at this point, but hopefully some of the wiser heads at Microsoft are thinking about these PC scenarios as a real possibility.
Microsoft’s current strategy for everything is convergence, even if that means completely screwing up Windows in the process. Windows looks like a smart phone, Xbox One looks like a smart phone, Surface tablets look like a smart phone, smart phones just look like themselves. You probably get the point here. With Microsoft trying to tie all of their devices together in some way, it’s curious how they’ve managed to ignore one of the most widely used functions of their top product. Even with Microsoft moving to become more of a services based company, they still make a huge portion of their profit from selling copies of Windows to OEM PC manufacturers. Gamers moving to Mac is not a huge concern at this point, but with Valve set to unleash their Linux-powered Steam Machines, Microsoft could actually lose a decent amount of their profit over time.
As Daniel Hartshorn clearly demonstrated, for some ungodly reason there’s still PC gamers that are resistant to Steam. While much of Microsoft’s gaming core is currently hunched over on their couch, guzzling Mountain Dew out of the bottle, there’s clearly a portion of that crowd that (given the right push) could also occupy the PC market as well. While we pray each and every day that Lord Gaben will enlighten the console peasants and help them ascend to the glorious PC Gaming Master Race, could it be possible that the potato masters themselves will join the cause? Or rather, could a renewed focus on the PC market actually be a serious attempt to circumvent Steam? If so, could Microsoft be any more successful than Origin or Uplay has to date? While insanely unlikely, some type of collaboration from Microsoft, EA, and Ubisoft could actually be a serious competitor to Valve’s platform when it comes to major titles.
At the very least, it looks like we’ll need to wait until E3 to find out what Microsoft has in store for us.