While some might call this a comeback, others suggest it never left.
This outlet (as well as many others across the ole’ interwebs) reported months back that Microsoft had officially had enough of supporting it’s fledgling Games for Windows service, who subsequently pulled the plug after years of only moderate success. In its wake, Steam has continued its rise as THE dominate name on PC (bringing several former ‘Windows Live properties into the fold in the aftermath). While this was no big loss to most PC gamers (as the service was far from exemplarily) it did mark the end of Microsoft’s presence in the desktop gaming market to some degree.
However, it appears that old line about their “demise being greatly exaggerated” would be quite apropos in this case.
Recently, some at Microsoft have decided to put the brakes on this narrative, as they scream “HEY! Not so fast! We never said ending means ENDING!” In a statement regarding its partially defunct service, a Microsoft rep explained that “We are continuing to support the Games for Windows Live service. As previously announced, as part of the retirement of Microsoft Points the Xbox.com PC marketplace was closed. Although customers are unable to purchase new games from the marketplace or receive title updates, they can continue to enjoy previously purchased content by downloading them through the Games for Windows Live client as usual. We remain committed to investing in PC gaming in the years ahead, and look forward to sharing more in the future.”
Much like a nervous teenager on Prom night, we’re getting all kinds of mixed signals here!
To say the least, statements like this certainly muddy the water. While some saw the end of ‘Windows Live as Microsoft’s definite move to focus their resources exclusively on their console division, these latest comments leave many PC enthusiasts wondering if they’re truly in or out. Xbox Head Phil Spencer touted that, even though the PC had absolutely ZERO representation at this year’s E3, gaming on the Windows OS was still “…critical to Microsoft's success."
Frankly, I don’t think the question should be whether or not Microsoft is looking to rebuild their PC base. Of course they COULD, as their resources are more abundant than any other company currently competing in today’s market. I truly believe the question is whether Microsoft SHOULD venture into these treacherous waters once again.
The Windows/DOS name (as the gatekeeper of all our gaming goodness on computer) was once equated to that of royalty in years past. However, with the launch of Games for Windows, the chinks in their armor were readily apparent. May feel it’s a perfect example of what happens when a company like Microsoft is forced to divide their attention among two entities. At the time, the Xbox 360 was a hugely successful piece of hardware (which obviously garnered the lion’s share of focus at their offices). Some see this as a primary factor in the ‘Windows Live platform becoming the neglected, red-headed step child (who was destined to fail).
The problem is, Microsoft still finds themselves in the exact same situation.
If you think about it, nothing has changed. Microsoft has all their resources laser focused on their current next-gen console, with one goal in mind: success. Launching yet another half-ass PC gaming service would have the same result, if they once again take their eyes off the prize. It would not only amount to another smudge on their record among PC gamers (who will inevitably compare it to the seamless Steam service at every turn), but will likely be the albatross that drags down their console business as well. If Microsoft couldn’t make ‘Windows Live work when the 360 was in a huge boom period, what hope do they have now when the Xbox One’s performance is less than stellar.
With the PS4 rollin’ along like a well-oiled machine (ever widening the gap between itself and its competitor), Microsoft can’t afford any slip ups in the foreseeable future. Likewise; it can’t afford any distractions either. If I were Spencer, I’d get this idea out of my head about being all things to all gamers right now. Stop attempting to spread yourself so thin and just stay in your lane. It’s time Microsoft abandons this charade of pretending anyone sees them as a legitimate PC portal at this point. Those glory days have long since passed. There are others who have stepped up to cease this crown in the marketplace, much like cream rising to the top.
Microsoft = Xbox is their mantra, or at least that’s how it should be. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.