Microsoft has increasingly tried to bridge the gap between gaming on Xbox and PC over the past handful of years, and while some of those efforts have seen mixed results – Phil Spencer knows the Windows Store needs fixing – the latest Windows 10 Insider build suggests something very exciting is on the way. Namely Xbox games running natively on PC.
The official blog post on build 18334 says “We’re excited to bring technology tailor-made for gaming to Windows,” though it stops short of explaining exactly what that technology is. Basically, it lets members of the Insider programme install and run the original State of Decay – a game which is available on PC, but which Microsoft itself only sells on Xbox platforms.
There are plenty of reasons to believe that this is an Xbox One game being run directly on PC. As Brad Sams reports on Thurrott.com, the State of Decay download comes from ‘assets1.xboxlive.com’, instead of the generic Microsoft address where all other Windows Store content downloads from. The game’s files are structured in the ‘.xvc’ format, which Microsoft uses specifically for Xbox One games. That format can be installed through PowerShell since a recent update.
Additionally, the State of Decay installation does an old-fashioned DirectX install – the type of install you’d see outside the Windows Store.
All this implies that Microsoft is building a way for Xbox One games to run directly through Windows. Given the work the company has already done in bringing backwards compatibility to the console, that could open the door for a massive library of new games to be playable on PC – from Ninja Gaiden Black to Halo 3 or the Master Chief Collection.
Look forward: Check out all the biggest upcoming PC games
It fits with Microsoft’s broader strategy of platform-agnosticism. We know the company wants to use streaming to bring its games to a big variety of hardware, and some reports have suggested that could even mean Xbox One games on Nintendo Switch. Yet in interviews, Phil Spencer has acknowledged not every player will be satisfied with the streaming experience – and Xbox games getting broadly ported to PC would be an exciting workaround for that issue.