Microsoft's Commitment to PC Gaming in Question - The UpStream

Microsoft's Commitment to PC Gaming in Question

posted Saturday Feb 15, 2014 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft's Commitment to PC Gaming in Question

There was a lot of question about Microsoft's commitment to PC gaming 6 months ago when they shuttered their Games for Windows Live brand. Some feared that the full shutdown of the brand meant the end of PC gaming from Microsoft, though Microsoft urged gamers that their commitment had shifted to the Xbox brand on Windows 8.

As a show of good faith, the company brought in Jason Holtman, a former Valve employee, who had helped shape the service we know as Steam. When he joined the company, he said that he would be working with developers to bring new titles to the platform with the goal of "making Windows a great platform for gaming and interactive entertainment." A noble goal for a new member of the Xbox family.

That goal was short-lived, it would seem, as Holtman's LinkedIn profile shows that he has left the company. Microsoft confirmed the departure to Neowin. What could Holtman's departure from Microsoft signify?

There are a lot of possibilities. The most popular this week is that Microsoft has actually nearly abandoned PC gaming in favor of a stronger focus on their Xbox One console. It would make sense that Microsoft would be putting larger than normal resources behind the console business right now with the Xbox One just hitting the market. A console without the power of a large launch catalog isn't going to have huge success.

I have an alternate theory, however. Microsoft's Ken Lobb recently said in relation to the corporate restructuring,

Now we're one {unified} Microsoft. I don't see this as pressure. I see it as an opportunity. We have more support internally to support PC more. That's great! My only expectation would be, please let us continue to do that over a five-year period so we can have real impact. That's how it feels right now. We're getting very strong support internally. So we're really going after PC.

That can be evidenced by looking at the Xbox-branded Windows titles available. There are over 60 in the store that are considered "featured" at the time of this writing. These titles span from casual games such as Solitaire and Mahjong to large titles, such as Adera. That certainly suggests some sort of commitment to gaming on the PC, though probably not the type that a hardcore gamer might be interested in. Perhaps Microsoft is going after the casual market, because that has succeeded on iOS and Android already.

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