UWP, otherwise known as Universal Windows Platform, is big news for PC gamers. By bringing by the Xbox One and Windows 10 closer together, Microsoft has enabled for more Xbox exclusive to be brought to PC. However, the cost of that is using the Unified Windows Platform and casting away Win32. According to Microsoft’s latest statements, UWP may spell the end of unbridled modding for PC games.
As expected of a unified model for both Windows 10 and mobile devices, UWP is more restrictive than regular Win32 or .NET applications. When Microsoft first revealed their plans for games built on their new model, there was some concern about what that would mean for modding. While Microsoft has allayed some concerns, it looks like modding will have to go with a curated model, with approval from Microsoft needed.
“The mods where we’ll probably have some discussion, is… if I go in and change the executable in a way—if I actually go in and reorder the code or inject code paths the developer didn’t originally intend, [then] the problem is, [we] don’t know if that modification is to fix a broken game, or to add some kind of phishing tool to the game so that now it’s capturing my passwords as [your’re] typing them into Chrome…”
This sounds a lot like Steam Workshop where mods are somewhat curated and are limited in their functionality. This means while skins or character mods might be allowed, more hardcore ones like what Skyrim has seen might not be allowed. Simply put, modifying the executable and changing any code paths won’t be allowed. This severely curtails what mods can do. Honestly, Microsoft has two incompatible goals with a wall-gardened store in UWP and good old open Win32. If Microsoft wants to truly cater to PC gamers, it’s probably best to restrict UWP games to games that are Xbox exclusives and let the rest of us mod as usual.
While the release of Xbox exclusives to Windows 10 under the UWP program is undoubtedly a positive, there are still many questions about the Unified Windows Platform. Due to the limitations on UWP and making it universal and more sandboxed, certain features common to games are unavailable. Fortunately, it looks like Microsoft will be adding some of these features to UWP with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
According to Microsoft, the changes to UWP are due to the negative feedback when Microsoft first released games based on the platform. Firstly, modding and overlay capability will be added. This will allow PC gamers to mod to their heart’s content hopefully, one of the highlights of PC gaming. Overlays will bring back the ability to have Afterburner or other apps run alongside the game to provide extra functionality.
More importantly, AMD’s FreeSync and Nvidia GSync support will be added. The adaptive refresh rate technology from the two graphics firms has been one of the biggest improvements to gaming in recent years and support should have been built-in from the get-go. While these moves go some way to alleviating some of the more prominent problems, the question remains if UWP is the way to go for future PC games due to their more restrictive and closed down nature.
Microsoft is really ramping up their Xbox One and Windows 10 collaboration for games. With Forza 6 Apex and Gears of War Ultimate already set to arrive soon or already arrived, Killer Instinct will be following along shortly on March 29th. The game will be available from the Windows store and what’s more, all DLC from the Xbox One will be available for the Windows version after a pretty quick update process.
As UWA (Universal Windows Application) based on the UWP (Universal Windows Platform), Killer Instinct comes with all the pros and con, namely it may not feature the full set of usual PC tweaks and features. That, however, is expected of most console ports these days anyways so it really isn’t that much of an issue. The system requirements are pretty tame as well, with only an i5 750/Phenom II x4 965, 4GB of ram and GTX480/HD 5850 being the minimum. The recommended isn’t that much beefier at i5 4670K/FX 4300, 8GB ram and GTX670/HD 7950. Of course, Windows 10 is required. You can see the full spec list below.