Microsoft held their Xbox Spring Showcase last week laying out the upcoming future for Xbox One and Windows 10 gaming and teasing the more distant future concerning the ever growing integration of the Xbox One and Windows 10. You can find the information revealed about upcoming games here and details on the March update for Xbox One here. Dual Shockers was at the event and transcribed much of Xbox Division Head Phil Spencer’s presentation. The future of the Xbox One and it’s relationship with PC’s was one such far future topic teased. Spencer is well aware of the criticisms about having “Xbox Exclusive” games come to PC, but he says ” …we think our vision actually is a positive move for them.”
Spencer goes on to explain that the main reason that gamers should look at the integration of Xbox and Windows 10 as a good thing has to do with what he calls the “Universal Windows Platform (UWP)”. What the UWP is in practical terms is the system architecture that allows universal Windows applications (UWA) to run on Windows 10 and that, Spencer says, is their focus “…building a complete gaming ecosystem for UWAs.” The current cycle that is in place, Spencer says, means that every time a new console generation comes around “we get the cardboard box out, we put our old console in there, a bunch of old controllers, all of our games, we stick it in the closet, hoping that some day we’ll get it out, nostalgia factor going, and play those games again, and then we buy our new console and a whole new library of games.” Spencer wants to change things because as he sees it the cycle has “…had the tendency to invalidate every game you’ve ever purchased, and require a whole new purchase push.” He says that the cycle is great for console innovation, but it’s not great that the cycle invalidates the games we already have.
This all leads to what Spencer believes the Windows 10 ecosystem can provide to gaming, faster hardware and software innovation that also allows games to be compatible, forwards and backwards, with all devices. Another thing Spencer points out is that even as they launch a new console the old one is still doing well and selling units, and unlike phones and PCs which get continuous innovation, the consoles lock hardware and software together each generation. Spencer goes on to talk about his vision for the future of this generation:
For us, we look at consoles and the console space and believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen. We’ll actually see come out new hardware capability during a generation, allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have the universal Windows application running on top of the universal Windows platform, that allows us to focus more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.
This is a very ambitious vision, putting out hardware upgrades within a console generation, that if Microsoft can pull off will allow the Xbox One or its successor to function like a PC or a Steam Machine. Being able to upgrade your hardware without having to buy an entirely new console means that you wouldn’t have to give up any of your old games, the same way PC gamers don’t have to now, and you’d still be able to play the latest and most demanding games out there.
Spencer also addressed the growing concern of Xbox One gamers about more “Xbox Exclusives” also being released on PC, making them feel their decision to go with Xbox wasn’t worth it. He talked about how uniting the Xbox One and Windows 10 ecosystems have allowed for more Xbox games to be in development than in the past. The fact that making an Xbox game would also let you access the Windows 10 platform as well has attracted more developers, Spencer says. He mentions the Xbox’s game preview program games such as Ark: Survival Evolved and how they borrowed that system from the PC space. Spencer wants Xbox gamers to remain hopeful and optimistic about the future saying:
We’re getting more games developed for the console gamer, we’re letting more gamers play with the console gamer, and we’ll see more continuous hardware and software innovation as we realize this vision as we go forward. That’s the commitment from our team to our console gamers.
What do you think about Microsofts plans for the future of Xbox? Would you be interested in an upgradeable Xbox console? Do you agree that the integration of Xbox and Windows 10 will lead to more games for both platforms? Let us know in the comments!