"I think it's fair to say that we've lost our way a bit in supporting Windows games," Microsoft Studios VP Phil Spencer admitted. "But we're back."
We may be at an event previewing Xbox One, but Spencer notes that PC is also an important part of their portfolio. While the company may have focused exclusively on console games in the past decade, that's going to change, he promised. "Windows is incredibly important. The 'One Microsoft' mantra that's come out had us looking at all the devices that Microsoft builds and truly becoming a first-party gaming studio across all devices."
I needed to press further. I wanted him to explicitly tell me that there are PC games coming from Microsoft first-party. And he complied. "You'll see us doing more stuff on Windows. We probably have more individual projects on Windows than we've had in ten years at Microsoft Studios."
Of course, it doesn't matter much to core gamers if Microsoft plans on simply releasing casual games on Windows. However, Spencer reassured me that the focus is definitely on the core. "At the launch of Windows 8, we had about 30 games in the Windows Store. A lot of those you'd consider lightweight or casual games... But we've covered all of that property now. Now we're starting to look at bigger and core gamer things. I'm excited by that."
There's already evidence that Microsoft isn't focusing exclusively on Xbox. In fact, many of One's games are also coming to PC, including Titanfall and Project Spark (pictured above). In the case of Spark, you'll be able to play and share content between Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows 8, and Surface. Having that kind of interoperability is crucial to improving the value of Xbox Live, Spencer points out. "Let's start to act like a true first-party across all these devices. A service like Xbox Live that knows me and my content and my friends and achievements across all these devices. I think that's an advantage for us."
Consumers no longer expect services to be stuck to one device, Spencer pointed out. "For us, we're first-party across all Microsoft devices. We definitely think about ourselves that way in our studios. If you think about a service like Spotify or Netflix, you expect that service to work on any device you have. For some games, it will be similar. I just want to have an Xbox Live account and it works on my phone, on my console, and my Windows machine. And then I'll be able to access my content in a screen-appropriate way."
In some ways, Microsoft is playing catch-up to Sony. In recent years, Cross-Play games have propagated content across PlayStation 3, Vita, and, now, PS4. But "One Microsoft" isn't willing to sit by and squander the incredible audience of Windows. For PC gamers, Microsoft's newfound commitment to PC games certainly is exciting.