With the announcement of ‘Play Anywhere’ which launches in September, Microsoft will allow players to buy a game either from Windows 10 store or Xbox One, and play it seamlessly on either of those platforms. With the launch of Xbox One S and Xbox Scorpio, that will take the count upto 4 compatible platforms where you can play your game after buying it just once. This is a big change in Microsoft strategy, and leaves them open to a lot of questions. I am no MS employee, but let’s try to answer some of them and understand why its a very robust one.
Xbox One might not outsell the PS4. But Xbox One + Xbox S + Xbox Scorpio + Windows 10 PC sure will.
Why is MS losing the Exclusivity tag?
They are, and they are not. While it looks like they are going to loose out on Xbox One sales by bringing XBox One exclusives to PC, they are still maintaining exclusivity. And that exclusivity belongs to Windows 10. Windows 10 already has a 30% share on PCs and it will only increase, with more players moving to Windows 10 in the future. After all, a free downloadable upgrade is far better than a 400$ console. Right? And you can be damn sure that most of these Windows 10 exclusives will not be making their way to Steam. Which brings us to the next question.
Is Microsoft trying to compete with Steam?
The short answer is NO. A longer answer is, ‘They are happy to be second best’. An elaborate answer is that while MS know they can’t beat Steam, they can take a bite out of this PC gaming pie. Other have tried of course (EA, Ubisoft, Humble Bundle, GOG) but MS does have an edge over them. Every Windows 10 PC will come equipped with a Windows store, it will be there pre-installed and ready to be used. Sure every gamer worth his salt would have have Steam installed on his PC, and would have his biggest library there. But he would almost also have a client for Uplay, Origin, Blizzard and LOL installed too. So it isn’t exactly out of habit for him to get out of Steam and play his favorite game. That’s what Microsoft are hoping for, they want you to come for games like Halo 6 and then stay. A little longer every time. But if PC gaming is Microsoft’s new goal, then what about the console wars.
Has Microsoft given up on the console wars?
The short answer again is NO. But once again they have given up on beating Sony at their own game. They tried it for 2 years straight and it didn’t work. So once again they are quite happy to be 2nd best. While Microsoft would be elated if the Xbox One, Xbox S or Xbox Scorpio outsold the PS4. I don’t think that’s their goal anymore. Because Xbox One + Xbox S + Xbox Scorpio + Windows 10 PC will definitely outnumber the PS4, and suddenly Microsoft are catering to a user base which is easily the double of what Sony has. Because turning Xbox into a brand is serving their ultimate goal.
The iPod started as a separate revolutionary device. But now its an icon on the MAC and iPad. A similar shift is evident at Microsoft, as Xbox become a software instead of hardware.
Asking you to choose Microsoft
Microsoft is asking you to choose them, by providing you the biggest variety in choices. If you are a console player, then it makes sense for you to buy an Xbox because it gives you the option to continue your games on your laptop later. If you are a PC player, it would make sense to buy games from the Windows store since you can continue them on a friend’s console later, and maybe even on your next console if you choose to buy one.
Microsoft is doing a lot so that you don’t think of them as an evil corporation anymore. They are trying to become good at what they do without being aggressive. Its a sound strategy to hold in an ecosystem which has long been considered unbreakable. Just imagine what would happen if Windows store had better customer service than Steam. The possibilities.
Yeah I would say Microsoft is pretty happy to be 2nd best right now. What do you think?