Microsoft’s announcements at this year’s E3 still have gamers buzzing. While the star of the show was no doubt the official confirmation and slight reveal of the upcoming ‘Project Scorpio’ system, the company rocked the boat from the very beginning of the show with one of its first announcements: the new ‘Play Anywhere’ initiative.
Right from the get-go, Microsoft outlined its plans for Xbox going forward; the lines have been blurred between consoles and PCs. From now on, all of the Xbox One’s —erm—the Xbox Family‘s exclusives will also be on Windows 10 PCs. Many gamers have reacted harshly to this, looking at it as a death-blow to the Xbox brand. I’ve seen many comments like: “So what’s the point of buying an Xbox One now?” and “Xbox is basically dead”. Frankly, I had no choice but to facepalm at some of these reactions. Microsoft’s announcement is far from negative; in fact, it’s one of the smartest moves the company has made in a while.
Play Anywhere will allow for Microsoft gamers to experience a level of connectivity that’s never been seen before between consoles and PCs. With this new service, when you buy an exclusive game on either the Xbox One or a Windows 10 PC, you will automatically gain access to it across both platforms. Game data will also be synced across both platforms, in addition to cross-play between the two. Microsoft demonstrated the cross-play right there at the conference, where three people were all playing the upcoming Forza Horizon 3 simultaneously: one person on the original Xbox One, another on the Xbox One S and the other on a high-end Windows 10 PC.
I was really impressed to see the functionality come together so seamlessly, and it really got me thinking as to just how big of a deal it all is. While it is true that the Xbox Family no longer has any true-exclusives, that does not mean that there is no longer a reason to buy an Xbox console. There are some gamers who really enjoy gaming on consoles, and other gamers who prefer to play on PC. Then there’s a group of folks who don’t mind shifting between the two. The fact of the matter is, there are different preferences across the board. With that said, it would be incredibly silly to think that Xbox is “doomed” because it now has to share its exclusives with PC players.
Consoles remain as the easiest, most affordable way to get into gaming. While PC gaming has grown in popularity to a massive extent over the last few years, there are still millions of people all over the world who prefer to stick with consoles. They enjoy the ease and simplicity of the experience. Likewise, there are folks who much rather play on PC because it offers a more customizable, and high-end experience. On top of that, also take into consideration that there are some gamers who like consoles, but don’t want to/can’t buy an Xbox due to owning a PlayStation or Nintendo system. This now gives them the chance to gain access to Microsoft’s exclusives too.
Microsoft has blurred the lines between consoles and PCs. This greatly opens up the horizon for games and gamers.
With that said, regardless of preference, millions of gamers can now enjoy the same exclusives. So no, this is not a crazy move from Microsoft—it’s very clever. The company realizes that many PC gamers simply do not want to buy a console. As a result, potential software sales have been kept at bay, until now. The pro-PC crowd now has access to titles that they otherwise would not have played because it was exclusive to Xbox. This means that these exclusive titles now have an even greater chance of being successful, not to mention the fact that these titles will now be able to live longer lives thanks to the large pool of new players. So tell me, how exactly is any of that is a bad thing?
Play Anywhere is paving the way for Microsoft to further improve its gaming landscape, not hinder it. While some hardware sales may be lost due to the fact that there are PC players who would have purchased an Xbox, that number is probably not that big. Besides, with the new potential of larger software sales, that lost profit can be made up for. So all-in-all, nobody has the right to condemn Microsoft for this move. I’m sure Microsoft’s studios, as well as the other development teams that are partnered with Microsoft, are happy about this new service. The horizon has been greatly extended for their titles. A larger number of sales means that these studios can continue to create games, thus keeping our hobby moving forward. At the end of the day, that is progression. Kudos to you, Microsoft.