Microsoft Studios' Phil Spencer admits they "lost our way" with Windows Games | PCGamesN

Microsoft Studios' Phil Spencer admits they "lost our way" with Windows Games

Phil Spencer Microsoft Studios

With Valve taking a shot at the living room with their Steam Machines, Microsoft look to be mobilising themselves back on the PC front. "I think it's fair to say that we've lost our way a bit in supporting Windows games,” head of Microsoft Studio’s , Phil Spencer, told ShackNews. “But we're back."


The way Spencer tells it, the company wants to return to its place as a first-party developer for Windows machines. There is some wriggle room in what he told Shack News, though. He told Andrew Yoon that "Windows is incredibly important. The 'One Microsoft' mantra that's come out had us looking at all the devices that Microsoft builds and truly becoming a first-party gaming studio across all devices."

That would imply that a game Microsoft developed for a Windows phone and then released through the Windows 8 store on the PC would be considered a first-party game. While true, that’s not quite up there with the Combat Flight Simulators and Mechwarrior games we loved Microsoft Game Studios for.

Spencer was more reassuring when he told the site that since launching the Windows Store, filled with casual games, “we're starting to look at bigger and core gamer things. I'm excited by that."

We learned recently that Microsoft had bought platform exclusivity for EA’s Titanfall but, thankfully, that contract wasn’t only for the Xbox One console, the game would still be released on Windows PCs. This could mean that Microsoft will be making an effort to have their console exclusives released on PC, too. If so, that would mean something Spencer told Polygon could have great ramifications for we PC gamers: “I think about managing the portfolio one year, two years, three years out. Great games take a while to build. It's about making sure great franchises like Halo are there, but you're also continuing to invest in new things like Quantum Break. I feel great about our launch portfolio. As a first party, our job is to invest in new things. That's something we're committed to over the generation."

Clearly he’s talking explicitly about the lineup of games Microsoft have planned for release on the Xbox One. However, if those games are making their way to PC through Microsoft Games Studios then we should keep a close eye on everything Microsoft announce as an exclusive.

It does sound like Microsoft were spurred into action by Valve’s recent announcements of a SteamOS and Steam Machine, particularly as they’re bringing them to market so shortly after the projects were revealed. We’ll be seeing the first Steam Machines in January with their release planned within a few months.

“[Valve have] done a great job of keeping the PC ecosystem strong at a time where I don’t mind saying that we could have been more focused on what was going on in PC gaming,” Spencer told Venturebeat. “We were probably too focused purely on console, [...] we should have been building as well at Microsoft.”

“There is a difference between being a game developer, running a store, and being a platform company. That’s an evolutionary jump. [Valve] made the jump from building Half-Life to having a set of franchises to running Steam. They did a good job of learning through that. Now they’re taking the next job to become a platform company — in some sense a hardware company, but in the truest sense more of an OS company. That’s not an easy transition.”

It seems that Microsoft will not be supporting Valve’s new OS by porting their games to the Linux platform. “As far as the OS, obviously, we love Windows,” Spencer told Venturebeat. “Linux isn’t Windows. We’re focused on making Windows and Xbox and Windows Phone the best connected ecosystem we can.”

The Steam Box can run non-Linux games but it does so by streaming the game from a nearby Windows PC. To run the game natively on the machine hooked up to your PC it must be coded in Linux.

If Microsoft follow through on all these comments then we could see an excellent set of releases for the PC in the coming year and a return to excellence for Microsoft Games Studios. They’ve a lot of bad blood to undo, Games for Windows Live left a bad taste in a lot of mouths, but it’s only to our gain if they manage it.

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subedii avatarleeho730 avataratschai avatar
subedii Avatar
4 Years ago

"I think it's fair to say that we've lost our way a bit in supporting Windows games,” head of Microsoft Studio’s , Phil Spencer, told ShackNews. “But we're back."

Does he have ANY idea how many times this line has come out from MS over the years since GFWL released?

Because seriously, I'm certain it's at least 3-4 times at this stage, each time saying the same freaking thing. "We've not been the _best_ in handling the PC platform so far, we truly understand and appreciate that. But this time we're DEFINITELY going to be making a real commitment going forward from here."

And then they never do. I would be willing to give more credence to their statements if they specifically acknowledged HOW they've messed up. Not just say "we haven't been good enough", but really state, fundamentally, HOW they've messed up, WHY that was allowed to happen, and WHAT they are specifically going to do to counteract those issues. Not just vaguely worded statements on "doing better".

The why and how are aspects that everyone else figured out years ago (and many a diatribe written), but MS never seems to have understood, instead making more and more daft decisions each time Valve or someone else manages to take what should have been an easy pole position from them given the circumstances.

I actually _don't_ want MS to be successful. That's not spite (Believe it or not, I was genuinely hopeful for GFWL when it first released), I just don't trust that should they gain a position where they can dictate more of the future of the PC Games market, that they won't simply try and force detrimental practices as they have previously. I mean heck, leave GFWL out of it for a second, they're still doing that even now, with things like DX11+ being Windows 8 exclusive for no other reason than forcing an upgrade.Why should I expect that they won't, say, mandate that future XBox One releases require DX11.3 components, thereby forcing the same requirement PC-side? Why should I trust that they won't do even WORSE things if they ever gain an actual ability to dictate the status quo?

I guess that's fundamentally why I sincerely hope that SteamOS is

a) Successful, and

b) Open as much as any Linux distro is open

Time will tell on that one.

atschai Avatar
4 Years ago

Coming from Microsoft, this seems more like a threat to me...

leeho730 Avatar
4 Years ago

Feeling nervous that Valve is tackling you directly on console as well as PC gaming in one masterful stroke, aren't you MS?