As we are getting closer to possibly the biggest gaming event of the year, E3, I was thinking a bit about what I’d like to see, and I can tell it in advance, that it’s not going to be an article about games to look forward to.
UWP – Write once, run everywhere
Microsoft is making big pushes towards building a truly Universal platform for game developers, so they can almost completely forget about the differences between PCs and Consoles. This UWP platform helps game developers to pretty much “write once, run everywhere”.
Xbox Play Anywhere – Buy once, play anywhere
Microsoft, though, also trying to attract users with this universal nature of the platform, so they offer this “Xbox Play Anywhere” program which makes it possible for the users to “buy games once and run them anywhere”.
This all sounds great, and it really works, but unfortunately the game catalogue expands fairly slowly, and Microsoft needs to make the Store friendly for as much users as possible now. So, maybe we could talk about older games?
With the Desktop Bridge it’s possible for developers to pack up their games, so that they can be published to the Windows Store. It needs fairly small effort, and considering there are already a couple of Game Stores that handles the installation of games, this extra option shouldn’t be a problem for the devs.
Long story short, it could result in PLENTY of older games in the Store, which might sound weird at first, because most gamers already built up their digital game catalogue, mostly on Steam, but it could be a strong alternative, and it could maybe even be possible to migrate games from one system to the other (thinking about product keys as redeemable codes or something like that).
Xbox Backward Compatibility
On the Xbox One side of the things, Microsoft already started a very similar thing, by bringing 100+ older Xbox 360 games to the Xbox One via their Backward Compatibility program.
Xbox Play Anywhere V2
And here comes the tricky part. Because Windows 10 and Xbox One share the same Store, I believe it should be possible to publish a game as a single entity to the unified Store by publishing a “Desktop Bridged” version for PCs and an “Xbox Backward Compatible” version for Xbox One, but again, showing it as a single game and linking them together and offering – at least some of – the benefits of Play Anywhere.
IF there would be games like this and IF Microsoft would provide some way to “migrate” existing game ownerships to the Store without having to buy the game again, it could suddenly become a huge thing, many people could suddenly move their game catalogue to the Store and keep building it there with exclusive titles.
Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass
It could add further value to this extended catalogue if the currently Xbox exclusive promotions, like the Games with Gold, Deals with Gold or the recently announced Game Pass would come to PCs as well.
Update (11/06/2017) (After E3):
After seeing some official announcements from the Xbox team, I feel like, my thoughts a further validated.
Some q’s today on back compat use. Roughly 50% of xbox one owners have played, over 508 million hrs of gaming enjoyed. #pastpresentfuture
— Mike Nichols (@xboxenigma) June 7, 2017
You asked for OG. You got it. #Xbox. And they look and play better.
— Mike Ybarra (@XboxQwik) June 11, 2017