Microsoft has shared its revamped approach to PC gaming that will begin to take effect later this year. This new vision, outlined in an Xbox Wire post by Head of Xbox Phil Spencer, comprises of three major steps forward – including the debut of the Xbox Game Pass subscription service for PC, more choice in where to acquire Xbox Game Studios titles such as Halo, Forza and Gears, as well as supporting Win32 games on the Microsoft Store for Windows 10.
Xbox Game Pass launched on Xbox One two years ago and has since grown its library to account for several high-quality gaming titles from both Microsoft and third-party gaming publishers alike. This new version of Xbox Game Pass built specifically for PC uses the same name as its Xbox One counterpart but will be curated for the needs of PC gamers and PC game developers alike.
Xbox Game Pass for PC will include unlimited access to a curated library of “over 100 high-quality games” available on Windows 10, including titles from highly accompanied game developers and publishers such as Bethesda, Deep Silver, Devolver Digital, Paradox Interactive, SEGA, and more. Plus, as seen on console, Xbox Game Pass for PC will feature new titles from Xbox Game Studios on the same day as their global release. That includes games from Microsoft’s newly acquired studios, such as Obsidian and inXile.
Microsoft is also working with over 75 game developers and publishers to bring PC content to the service and is aiming to ensure the library remains “curated and full of great PC titles across a variety of genres, with new games added every month.” Xbox Game Pass members on PC will also benefit from discounts in the Microsoft Store on Windows 10. That includes up to 20% off games currently available in the Xbox Game Pass library and up to 10% off related downloadable content.
Expect more news on Xbox Game Pass to come at Microsoft’s Xbox E3 2019 Briefing, where the company will share the line-up of games coming to the service on PC, as well as further details on how and when users will be able to experience the new Xbox Game Pass for PC service.
In addition to its efforts to bring Xbox Game Pass to PC, Microsoft also wants to make its first-party Xbox Game Studios titles available across multiple storefronts, including its own Microsoft Store for Windows 10, as well as the fan-favourite Steam digital distribution platform.
“Our intent is to make our Xbox Game Studios PC games available in multiple stores, including our own Microsoft Store on Windows, at their launch,” says Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer. “We believe you should have choice in where you buy your PC games.”
In March, Microsoft announced that Halo: The Master Chief Collection will come to PC later this year and will launch on Steam in addition to the Microsoft Store. Spencer says the company will continue to add to the more than 20 Xbox Game Studios titles currently available on Steam, beginning with Gears 5 and all Age of Empires I, II & III: Definitive Editions later this year.
“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,” he continues. “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.”
“We want to bring players together to create a shared player community regardless of where they play, so it’s our intent that new Xbox Game Studios titles include features such as voice and text chat, LFG, friends lists and cross-play across PC and console,” Spencer adds. “On Windows 10 you’ll find this functionality in the Xbox Game Bar, which we’ll continue to evolve and expand.”
Microsoft revamped its Xbox Game Bar this month with the release of the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. This replaces the standard Game Bar pop-up with a new overlay experience that allows you to capture, save and edit screenshots and clips, broadcast gameplay via Mixer with live voice commentary and face-cam, shuffle music playing through Spotify, and adjust audio controls for different apps and games currently running on your PC.
The new Xbox Game Bar even allows you to monitor current CPU, GPU and RAM usage – all from the comfort of this new overlay experience without the need of opening Task Manager.
Whilst Microsoft will launch its Xbox Game Studios titles on Steam and other storefronts moving forward, the company is also updating its own Microsoft Store for Windows 10 to allow for Win32 games to be developed and sold.
“We recognize that Win32 is the app format that game developers love to use and gamers love to play, so we are excited to share that we will be enabling full support for native Win32 games to the Microsoft Store on Windows,” Spencer said. “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.”
“When I think about the role we play as a company to support and evolve gaming on Windows, it’s critical that we make decisions that reinforce the open nature of the PC, focusing on how best to unite players on all devices around the games they love,” he continued. “That philosophy will guide us as we introduce new ways to discover and play games on Windows.”
“These are just a few of our steps in a journey to contribute to gaming on Windows 10,” Spencer added.
For more on the future of Microsoft’s vision of PC gaming, be sure to tune in to the annual Xbox E3 2019 Briefing on Sunday, June 9th, live from the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, CA at 10pm BST (1pm PDT, 4pm EDT). During the conference, Microsoft will showcase several new titles coming to Xbox One and PC in the future, including Halo Infinite and Gears 5. The company is also expected to highlight its xCloud game-streaming service and even begin teasing its next-gen console plans.
Alan is the co-founder and co-owner of FullThrottle Media. As someone who enjoys spending all his free time playing video games, he delivers the latest in news stories, reviews, and feature articles to the website, as well as videos on his YouTube channel and livestreams over on Mixer.