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Microsoft will put an end to exclusive Xbox games by unifying PC and Xbox One platforms

By Koh Wanzi - on 2 Mar 2016, 3:20pm

Microsoft will put an end to exclusive Xbox games by unifying PC and Xbox One platforms

Image Source: Microsoft

Microsoft is all about streamlining things these days. In a move that echoes its strategy with Windows 10 and the so-called Universal Windows Platform, Microsoft has now announced plans to unify its PC and Xbox One gaming platform into a single ecosystem running Universal Windows Applications (UWAs).

Phil Spencer, the head of the company’s Xbox division, said at an Xbox showcase event last week that the Universal Windows Platform – a common development platform for apps to run across PC, Xbox, tablets, and smartphones – would take center stage in the company’s gaming strategy moving forward.

So the next time you buy a game made by Microsoft or one of its close partners, you could be able to play it on both PC and the Xbox console. This has the potential to change the buying habits of gamers and could serve as a boost to diehard PC gamers, who will no longer need an Xbox to get in on the action every time Microsoft drops a major title.

Furthermore, it could significantly impact the development path of consoles, which has so far operated on the assumption that the hardware needs to remain unchanged throughout the machine’s lifespan, which can often span a good number of years.

“We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs,” said Spencer. In this light, Microsoft could very well be opening the door to more frequent innovation in console hardware. The Xbox may even become more like a PC, with Microsoft launching new versions with updated hardware at regular intervals.

The future of the Xbox One may include upgrades at regular intervals. (Image Source: Reuters)

Because everything will run on the Universal Windows Platform in theory, games written as UWAs will be backward compatible with older hardware, while older titles will run on the newest machines as well. This is not unlike the current state of affairs on PC, where gamers can run both old favorites and the latest hits on the same machine.

Other benefits include greater developer interest as games could now be effectively marketed across both console and PC platforms. Spencer even said that Microsoft’s own games division is working on providing experiences like cross-platform play between devices. It is also exploring the option of giving publishers the ability to sell a game on one platform and automatically make it available on the user’s other Windows 10 devices at no additional cost.

One of the first Xbox games to make it to PC is Forza Motorsports. Dubbed Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, the PC title will not be as fully featured as the Xbox One version, but it’s a start. Other games on the cards include the hotly-anticipated Quantum Break and Fable Legends.

Of course, Microsoft still needs to convince developers that this is a viable route to take. The idea is for UWAs to run seamlessly on both PC and Xbox architectures, with abstractions to exploit individual GPUs, memory and other hardware. But it’s far from clear if that will indeed be the case in reality.

Source: The Guardian