Microsoft is in a very unique position these days, coming off the turbulent times of the era of Games For Windows Live and the publicly maligned Windows 8 Store. They've learned their lessons and now they're taking a back seat to Valve's highly popular and very consumer-friendly digital storefront, Steam.
Speaking with PC Gamer at this year's GamesCom in Cologne, Germany, the senior director for PC gaming within the Xbox brand, Kevin Unangs, explained where the company stands on digital distribution and dealing with the pushback they received from services like the Windows Store and Games For Windows Live.
According to Unangs...
Games for Windows was a prior approach where it was more, at that time, like 'how do we take things? We knew we wanted to help make great multiplayer, we knew we wanted to bring things over... but it wasn't the right approach. It was the approach of 'let's just take those things and transplant them'.
Unangs explains how Microsoft is taking a very different approach to the game and app stores with Windows 10. According to him, there's going to be a more friendly ecosystem where Microsoft will be encouraging gamers to use Steam in conjunction with Windows 10 as opposed to directly competing with them with their own digital storefront, something that didn't work out too well with the Games For Windows Marketplace and the Windows 8 Store.
In fact, Gabe Newell wasn't very fond of Windows 8 and it expedited Valve's process in developing their very own operating system known as SteamOS, which is set to launch globally this November. The OS has its own drawbacks and hiccups since it's based on the Debian distribution of the Linux software platform, limiting the OS greatly in what it can run and its compatibility. However, Valve is working assiduously to make the SteamOS platform as compatible and optimized as possible for its eventual launch this fall. More than anything I think they need to focus on the functionality and bugs in the Steam Big Picture mode, but I digress.
Unangs realizes just how popular the Steam distribution platform is and how loyal many gamers are to Valve and has stated that Microsoft won't be competing with them with Windows 10...
We are not intending to compete with Steam, […] Over time do we want more developers to come over to our store and offer it in addition to Steam? Absolutely. Is competition good for people? Absolutely. But our goal right now isn't to do anything else other than support Steam and help it run great on Windows 10.
This is a very humble approach compared to how Microsoft was running things previously. Steam commands over 125 million registered users the world around, as reported by Metro.co.uk. They pose a significant threat to Microsoft if the SteamOS actually takes off this fall. Playing nice with Steam keeps people using Windows 10 and prevents them from dabbling in the territory of Linux.
I have no idea how well gamers will adopt Windows 10, but Microsoft has gone over and beyond to make it as gamer friendly as possible coming off the very anti-consumer setup of Games For Windows Live. Microsoft's newest OS supports cross-buy between PCs and Xbox One units, as well as streaming and Xbox Live functionality through the Xbox app in Windows 10. The only major drawback to Windows 10 so far is the whole privacy invasion thing.