Phil Spencer Promises Windows Store Launches Will Improve

Microsoft’s attitude towards PC gaming has dramatically shifted in the past few months and they’ve become more open to releasing console exclusives on the platform. The company’s Universal Windows Platform is designed to reduce barriers and allow consumers to play against each other without restrictions. Arguably, Microsoft is doing this to help with Windows 10’s adoption rate and cater to an additional player base after experiencing poor sales on the Xbox One compared to its nearest competitor. In the past, Microsoft has taken the PC market for granted which explains their abysmal reputation among this particular demographic.

Games for Windows Live is the perfect example of Microsoft’s tomfoolery which angered a great number of people. This was one of the worst forms of DRM ever created and it’s the main reason why PC gamers have such a cynical attitude. On another note, promises have been made on a number of occasions about taking the platform seriously but these never came to fruition. Thankfully, Phil Spencer’s appointment has helped the company’s regain its gaming focus and communicate with fans in a much better manner.

Despite this, the UWP’s launch has been far from ideal and featured a number of bizarre omissions including mod support, VSync off, ability to use frame-rate monitoring software and much more! Also, major titles including Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Quantum Break run quite poorly. Even though the hitching issues in Gears of War: Ultimate Edition were resolved, it’s still not the kind of optimization I’d expect. Additionally, the PC release of Quantum Break is marred by terrible optimization which means users with a high-resolution monitor cannot acquire an acceptable frame-rate. Remedy might not even be able to fix some of these problems because they are to do with the game’s engine.

Clearly, UWP has had a rocky start and Phil Spencer admitted this when addressing a question on Twitter:

Phil Spencer also promised that future releases would improve:

Postal Redux Dev “Microsoft Lacking in its Commitment to Gamers”

Prior to the Xbox One’s release, Microsoft managed to forge a huge player base and competed with Sony despite being the major underdog. While part of this is down to Sony’s mistakes with expensive hardware and the overly complicated Cell architecture, you have to give Microsoft credit for the Xbox 360’s superb library. Granted, they did lose a lot of respect with the Red Ring of Death fiasco. Although, it’s important to remember Sony consoles also experienced the Yellow Light of Death but this was to a lesser extent. Unfortunately, Microsoft reversed much of their hard work during the Xbox One’s launch and angered the core gaming demographic.

Reports about banning the use of pre-owned games, having to check in online every 24 hours and the focus on US sport shows didn’t sit well with Xbox 360 fans. Eventually, the company’s management realized this and appointed Phil Spencer to the leading role. Despite making numerous changes and showcasing Microsoft’s passion towards core games, it seems this viewpoint isn’t shared by everyone. In a recent interview with Gamingbolt, Running with Scissors’s CEO Vince Desi said:

“[Microsoft lack] a commitment to gamers,”

Running with Scissors is the development team behind Postal Redux and this is an extremely bold claim to make. While there have been some rumours circulating about Microsoft’s management being unhappy with the Xbox division, this is purely speculation. Furthermore, Microsoft have invested money into development studios and funded excellent games like Quantum Break and Sunset Overdrive. It’s clear they are lingering behind in the console market and struggling to compete with Sony. It’s interesting to see their renewed focus on the PC platform and trying to bring PC gamers and console players together through a single ecosystem. At the moment, it’s not working out too well due to the UWP restrictions and the technical mess seen on a number of  games.

Do you think Microsoft is committed to gamers?

Microsoft Will “Never Force” Gamers to Compete Cross Platform says Phil Spencer

It is a growing trend amongst games to consider the inclusion of cross-platform play between PC and the current consoles. Even Microsoft’s own Windows Universal Platform and potential plans to make the Xbox One upgradable is making the line between the PC and console fuzzier than ever. Despite this, the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer wants to make sure that there are differences between the platforms.

Speaking at Microsoft Build’s keynote, Spencer explained that just because a number of games are coming to both the Xbox and the PC, doesn’t mean that there will be any kind of requirement forcing all games to be multi-platform between the PC and Xbox. He also explained that he wants to make sure that players using different control methods for their game won’t be forced to play against others using a different method.

“I’ll never force somebody in our games whose playing with a controller or a mouse and keyboard to play against somebody with a different control scheme,” he said. “Mouse and keyboard rotation speed is faster than controller. We know that, you’ll lose.”

That said, he wants to leave it up to the developers in regards to the available control methods and cross-platform support in their games. Exactly how these cross-play restrictions will be placed based on control scheme is currently hard to tell, with controllers already an option for many PC games and the Xbox One already confirmed to be getting support for mouse and keyboard controls in the future.

Xbox One Hardware Upgrades Could End Console Generations

Xbox Chief Phil Spencer has revealed that he is considering the introduction of hardware upgrades for Xbox One, as part of its “Universal Windows Platform” program, which aims to unify Microsoft’s console with PC platforms, in a move which could spell the end of future Xbox generations. Speaking to Polygon, Spencer explained that Microsoft sees the PC as a platform of innovation for gaming, and so the company wants to shift the Xbox into that sphere.

“We see on other platforms whether it be mobile or PC that you get a continuous innovation that you rarely see on console,” Spencer said. “Consoles lock the hardware and the software platforms together at the beginning of the generation. Then you ride the generation out for seven or so years, while other ecosystems are getting better, faster, stronger. And then you wait for the next big step function.”

“When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen,” he added. “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”

Spencer sees the unification of various platforms as a boon to those who want to play older games, too, as the PC ecosystem, and relevant upgrades, would support broader backwards compatibility.

“We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me,” he said. “Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don’t have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before.”

Forza Motorsport 6 Apex Coming to Windows 10 This Spring?

Microsoft has traditionally had a rocky relationship with PC gamers due to the horrendous Games for Windows Live DRM and focus on console exclusives. Over the last decade, the company has made numerous promises to adopt a more PC-friendly attitude and failed to deliver. This rightfully creates a great deal of skepticism because of the lack of Xbox IPs like Halo and Forza on the PC platform. Thankfully, Microsoft’s new management has woken up to the incredible rise of PC gaming and decided to adopt a more unified strategy. This means, games can launch on mobile, PC and Xbox with interplay via the Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft has hinted at bringing more Xbox games to PC, but they’ve really kept their main titles on Xbox to please the console demographic.

During a media event last week, the head of Xbox Phil Spencer outlined the company’s new attitude towards PC gaming and said:

“We are 100 percent committed to the PC-gaming space,”

“That is a long-term commitment from us.”

He also acknowledged Microsoft’s poor reputation and admitted:

“We know we have a lot to prove,”

Even more astounding, The Seattle Times leaked information about an upcoming announcement from Microsoft regarding the Forza series. According to this source, Microsoft will launch a free-to-play version of Forza Motorsport 6 on the Windows Store this spring. The new game entitled, Forza Motorsport 6: Apex will probably adopt optional microtransactions to acquire money faster so you can purchase vehicles in a quick manner. I really hope Microsoft doesn’t try to charge for individual circuits though and offer a barebones package. I absolutely adore the Forza series and it’s the main reason why I purchased an Xbox 360 back in the day. However, the free-to-play aspect does bother me somewhat, and I worry about the game’s business model.

A greater concern is, Microsoft thinks they can port over free-to-play versions of their most popular franchises. Hopefully, this isn’t the case because it wouldn’t be a good move to make PC gamers trust them.

Only 99 Xbox One Units Were Sold in Japan Last Week

Microsoft has been trying to infiltrate the Japanese gaming market for some time and made an ambitious push with the Xbox One to attract a new audience. However, since the start of this endeavour, console sales figures can only be described as abysmal and even resulted in Xbox Japan’s CEO, Takashi Sensui’s resignation. The figures released for last week by Media Create are embarrassing and illustrates why Microsoft has almost given up on appealing to Japanese gamers.

In the period between January 11th to 17th, Microsoft only sold a measly 99 units! This is the first instance of the company’s sales slipping into double digits. To put these numbers into some context, the PlayStation 4 sold 25,292 units in the same period, and the Wii U managed 15,398 sales. This is astonishing when you consider the Wii U’s worldwide performance is terrible and there’s a huge amount of speculation regarding Nintendo’s upcoming NX console.

Here we can see the top 8 system sales in full:

1. New Nintendo 3DS XL: 30,172 units

2. PlayStation 4: 25,592

3. PlayStation Vita: 18,202

4. Wii U: 15,398

5. New Nintendo 3DS: 6,241

6. Nintendo 3DS: 4,797

7. PlayStation 3: 1,939

8. Nintendo 3DS XL: 1,162

Notice how even the PlayStation 3 is outselling Microsoft’s latest console by a significant margin. Furthermore, the rise of mobile gaming in Japan cannot be underestimated as portable puzzle games prove to be a very popular pastime. It seems Microsoft is realizing the scale of their problem and major difficulties in trying to encourage Japanese citizens to move away from long-standing Japanese brands. Honestly, I don’t think there’s anything Microsoft can do to change their reputation, and they’ve probably already given up on the Japan project. This is a shame, because it’s always beneficial for the consumer to have more choice and experience different games. Personally, I often feel Microsoft focuses too much on certain territories and needs to appeal more to smaller markets.

Image courtesy of JapanTimes.

Microsoft Planning Windows 10 And Xbox Gaming Press Event Next Month!

Microsoft has promised to adopt a more unified approach to its entire ecosystem and launch first-party exclusives on mobile, PC and Xbox. Despite various announcements including Killer Instinct, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Fable Legends, Microsoft still needs to have a more proactive approach towards PC gaming to forge a new reputation. It’s needed though given the dismal reception of Games for Windows Live and broken promises to take the platform seriously. Many PC gamers are eagerly awaiting an announcement for Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the latest Forza title. However, up to this point, it seems Microsoft isn’t interested and continuing to lock the core line-up on the Xbox One.

Clearly, the situation could change if the Xbox One continues to sell poorly or Microsoft decides to pull out of the console market altogether. The company has just started to send out press invitations to an event based entirely around the Xbox brand and Windows gaming. It will take place on February 25th in San Francisco and told attendees they have:

“..the chance to hear from Head of Xbox Phil Spencer and get hands-on with the best games and platform experiences launching this spring on Xbox and Windows 10.”

Putting speculation aside, I cannot foresee any major Windows 10 announcements occurring and Microsoft will probably just showcase upcoming releases. Furthermore, the last Windows 10 gaming press event felt very disappointing and didn’t really live up to hype with rumors suggesting Halo would eventually come to the PC. Perhaps, there will be some discussion about Directx 12 and the impact of this latest API on various devices with developers taking to the stage. I think Microsoft has to be very careful though because they need to encourage Xbox One system sales while providing enough content to PC gamers to keep them happy.

Killer Instinct And Gears of War Ultimate Coming to PC in Early 2016

Microsoft’s renewed focus on pleasing the core PC gaming audience has been rightfully met with a great deal of scepticism. This isn’t surprising given the horrendous impact of Microsoft’s Games for Windows Live DRM system which left customers in certain territories unable to legitimately purchase their favourite titles. Unfortunately, it still seems unlikely for major Xbox exclusives like Halo 5 and Forza 6 to suddenly arrive on the PC unless Microsoft alters their strategy. Nevertheless, there are a few exceptions including Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Killer Instinct and Fable Legends.

Since the official announcement of Gears of War Ultimate Edition and Killer Instinct, there hasn’t been much information regarding release dates or the development process. This made some fans quite apprehensive and pondered if the projects could be cancelled. Thankfully, Xbox boss Phil Spencer has directly addressed these concerns on Twitter and predicted both games will launch in early 2016:

This is exciting news for PC players wanting to play leading Microsoft IPs at high resolutions and a smooth framerate. The Xbox One is lacking in graphical horsepower and provides a less than stellar user-experience. As a result, if you own a decent gaming PC, waiting for those versions is a cogent tactic. However, it’s still unclear if Microsoft will ever bring the likes to Halo to the platform.

Spencer “Fully Expects” There Will be a Next Xbox Generation

Love them or hate them, consoles have been around for decades, proven to be massively profitable when done right and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Sony and Microsoft have put on a good battle this last couple of years with their current generation of consoles, but as is always the case with the technology market, people are already starting to wonder “what comes next?”

When asked on Twitter, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer said “I fully expect there will be” another generation of Xbox consoles. This isn’t that big of a surprise, but there has been some doubt over Microsoft’s place in the market in the coming years. The Xbox One launch was nothing short of a disaster, but they quickly started singing a different tune to give consumers more of what they want, which so far seems to be paying off.

Microsoft is certainly focusing on the Xbox One right now and I wouldn’t get your hopes up for a new console anytime soon, as this console generation has barely gotten started. My guess would be to save your next-gen console money for some time around 2020.

Phil Spencer “Fully Expects” Another Xbox And Pledges to Focus on Consoles

Phil Spencer has been tirelessly working away to improve Microsoft’s public image among the core gaming community after the pretty abysmal Xbox One launch. The regular dashboard refinements, game announcements and pledges to improve the user-experience helped entice new users to the platform. However, the system is still lingering well behind the PlayStation 4. On another note, Spencer discussed PC gaming more openly which coincides with Microsoft’s new unified approach to PC, mobile and Xbox.

This latest strategy has caused some anxiety from Xbox, well, fanboys is probably the most accurate term:

Spencer did acknowledge the reason why some Xbox fans felt so insecure and said:

Previously, Microsoft gave their assurances to support the PC platform but this never came to fruition. Additionally, PC gamers are extremely passionate and Microsoft’s appalling Games For Windows Live continues to haunt them. While certain games are getting ported like Gears of War, the majority remain exclusive to the Xbox brand. I’m quite baffled by some of the anti-PC rhetoric from Xbox fans begging Microsoft to stop putting games on the PC. Exclusives are anti-consumer, and restricting content doesn’t benefit anyone.

Spencer also went onto discuss the future of Xbox and said:

This quashes some rumors regarding Microsoft’s possible exit from the console market. Clearly, Spencer believes there will be a successor to the Xbox One although it might not take the form of a traditional console. By the time the next consoles arrive, digital distribution, and 4K streaming could become the norm. Therefore, consoles have a great deal of work to do to compete with the PC and cheap Android streaming devices.

Xbox Chief Puts Customer Trust Ahead of Beating PS4

While the Xbox One is selling better than ever, it still remains in the shadow of Sony’s PlayStation 4, but you won’t find that fact bothering Xbox chief Phil Spencer. Following a poor launch, exacerbated by lacklustre launch titles, an extortionate retail price, and an insistence on bundling the console with the much-maligned Kinect add-on, Microsoft has revised its Xbox One marketing strategy, which has seen improved sales over the last twelve months, but Spencer thinks that rebuilding customer’s faith in the Xbox brand is more important than outselling its rival.

“I started off making statements like – ‘we want to win’. But I quickly realised you can only control what you can control,” Spencer admits. “Sony is having great success with PlayStation 4 and they’ve earned that. But for me as a leader of my team and as somebody who is interacting with the Xbox community it was much more beneficial and I could have more impact by focusing on the product we had.”

“It was a change for me in the 18 months [since becoming Xbox boss]. You’ll hear me talk less about the competition. People will say ‘you’re losing, so of course you’re not going to bring that up’. Maybe we’ll test that some day,” he added. “But if we are winning I’d hope to stay in the swim lane. It’s about the games we have and how we treat the customers who buy our box.”

When asked if Xbox One will ever beat PlayStation 4, in terms of sales, Spencer replied, “You know, I don’t know. The length of the generation… [Sony] have a huge lead and they have a good product. I love the content, the games line-up that we have.”

Thank you Eurogamer for providing us with this information.

Fable Legends is Not Coming to Steam

Lionhead Studios’ Social Media Coordinator, Lauran, has confirmed Fable Legends will be a Windows 10 store exclusive. Frankly, this is an absolutely atrocious idea, as Steam has a massive stranglehold on the PC market and any other digital delivery platform cannot realistically compete. To make matters worse, Lauran even hinted that this policy could apply to other Microsoft titles. Perhaps, this means Killer Instinct, Gears of War and future announcements will never release on Steam.

Phil Spencer’s leadership has been praised for discussing gaming on Windows and acknowledging past mistakes. Microsoft’s reputation in the PC Gaming sector is at rock bottom, due to Games For Windows Live and leaving the platform stagnant for years. Luckily, Valve helped to pick up the pieces and other services like GOG have helped PC Gaming flourish. Over the years, Microsoft promised to improve and focus on PC Gaming, but were rarely taken seriously as they consistently disappointed in the past. Now, they choose to limit their own games to a frankly niche platform and one which will likely result in terrible sales. Fable Legends is free-to-play but its success will rely on micropayments. Furthermore, how can Microsoft realistically expect people to pay $60 for a few digital games stuck on their service?

Consumers use Steam because of its convenience and want to keep all their games on 1 client. Additionally, it’s unknown what kind of DRM the Windows Store utilizes and if you can easily install games on a new PC. Microsoft needs to seriously re-assess their strategy and see PC Gaming as a viable source of revenue and not something which detracts from Xbox sales. The majority of Xbox users have no interest in PCs due to the technical knowledge required or price for enthusiast hardware.

I shouldn’t be surprised given Microsoft’s history, but it’s staggering to see them restricting a game’s core user-base just to push a very underused storefront. This situation is made even worse with free-to-play MMOs. As a result, Fable Legends community on PC could be fairly non-existent within a few months.

Microsoft Considering HoloLens for Xbox

While the Microsoft HoloLens has thus far been marketed as a device that will add new dimension to your Windows 10 experience, it seems Microsoft is still exploring the possibility of integrating the augmented reality headset with its current-gen video game console, the Xbox One.

In an interview with Edge magazine, Head of Xbox Studio Phil Spencer revealed that Microsoft are strongly considering HoloLens/Xbox One integration, but for now the company is concentrating on making the AR device a standalone piece of tech first. “The tethered scenarios around VR I think are interesting, but we were going for something different,” said Spencer. “Not being tethered to either a PC, Xbox or a phone as part of the solution was one of our design challenges for HoloLens, and we did that.”

He continued, “Well, we haven’t announced it as an Xbox accessory, but it sits within one team, and we have the conversations. Right now, we want to focus on a standalone, untethered device and make sure that we can prove out that scenario.”

Should the HoloLens make it to Xbox, Spencer believes that will open up new territory for developers, adding, “Now we can say, ‘Well, OK, if I do have an Xbox or a PC, what are those scenarios?’ We haven’t publicly talked about what those are, but you can imagine, as we continue to drive and get success with HoloLens, those scenarios will become obvious and developers will take advantage of them.”

Thank you GamesRadar for providing us with this information.

Next Gears of War Will be Xbox One Exclusive

It seems the next Gears of War game won’t be coming to Xbox 360. Jack Felling, developer with the game’s maker Black Tusk Studios, has confirmed on Twitter that the new Gears of War will be an Xbox One exclusive:

Though the game was pretty sure to be next-gen only, plenty of developers over the last year have later opted to release for previous consoles, like Alien Isolation, Forza Horizon 2, and the forthcoming Lara Croft sequel, Rise of the Tomb Raider.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, raved about the in-development game back in December, saying that the Black Tusk team were making “massive progress”. A trailer for the new Gears of War game is expected at E3 in June.

Source: VG24/7

Windows 10 Coming to Xbox One in January?

It’s no secret that Windows 10 is Microsoft’s attempt at a unified OS. Of course, you could argue that they tried something similar with Windows 8, but we’re not going to. Windows 10 is being designed to run right across the Microsoft range, from Windows PC to Xbox One, as well as a plethora of tablets, phones and other smart devices along the way.

Cross-platform integration is essential to its success and according to Xbox boss Phil Spencer, we can expect a massive update to Xbox One in January 2015. Microsoft will be holding their own event in Washington on January 21st, where more details of the updates are expected to be revealed.

The Xbox One already uses a hybrid of the Windows 8 tile design for apps, so it’s likely not too big a stretch to update it to something visually similar to Windows 10.

Thank you Newsxbox for providing us with this information.