Microsoft has made some interesting plays in the PC gaming space, announcing the official Xbox Game Pass for PC, more first-party games coming to Steam, and support for Win32 games on the Windows 10 Store.
Xbox Game Pass for PC
We’ll begin with the Xbox Game Pass for PC, which will be a completely separate package of games to the Xbox One service and will be launching with more than 100 PC games from over 75 different publishers. Partnerships include Bethesda, Deep Silver, Sega, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive, and Microsoft’s own Xbox Game Studios.
Microsoft’s first-party games will be included in Xbox Game Pass of course, and this includes titles from its newly acquired studios like Obsidian and inXile. That presumably means both The Outer Worlds and Wasteland 3 will be on Xbox Game Pass for PC on day one.
Just as with the Xbox version, PC Game Pass will feature new games added each and every month, with a single monthly subscription granting access to all of these games. Pricing, specific games, and launch details are set to be announced during Microsoft’s E3 2019 press conference on June 9th.
Microsoft Bringing Xbox Game Studios Titles to Steam
In a massive change for Microsoft’s way of doing things, they’re planning to offer plenty more choice in where its first-party games can be played on PC. The majority of its first-party titles are exclusive to the Windows Store. It was announced the Halo: The Master Chief Collection will be coming to PC, but this is just the beginning. Over 20 upcoming Xbox Game Studios titles will be coming to Steam, beginning with Gears 5 and Age of Empires 1, 2, & 3: Definitive Editions.
“We know millions of PC gamers trust Steam as a great source to buy PC games and we’ve heard the feedback that PC gamers would like choice,” explains head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. “We also know that there are other stores on PC, and we are working to enable more choice in which store you can find our Xbox Game Studios titles in the future.”
Win32 Games Will Now be Supported on the Windows 10 Store
Win32 is the default app format for games and is used by just about every PC game under the sun. Except if a game comes to the Windows 10 Store of course, which utilises a proprietary Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application system.
This is all changing and the Microsoft Store will soon have full support for Win32 games enabled. “We recognize that Win32 is the app format that game developers love to use and gamers love to play,” said Spencer. “This will unlock more options for developers and gamers alike, allowing for the customization and control they’ve come to expect from the open Windows gaming ecosystem.”
That’s lovely stuff and a big win for PC gamers. Microsoft’s ticking all the right boxes here and is actually backing up its claims that it cares about PC gaming with some real substance.
In terms of how this ties in Xbox Game Pass for PC, we would assume Game Pass will only apply to Windows Store titles. That’s the carrot on the stick to get players using its own storefront rather than Steam.