In a live E3 interview with Giant Bomb, Microsoft’s head of Xbox division Phil Spencer confirmed that the gaming giant has plans to re-welcome Steam into its fold in the wake of the groundbreaking announcement, also at E3, that Microsoft would now be making all of its titles cross compatible with Windows 10.
This decision appears to be going over very well. As a PC and PS4 gamer myself, this is very exciting. Those without an Xbox One will now have access to many Xbox-exclusive titles via Windows. Many will say this decision is long overdue, and I would be inclined to agree. Microsoft stood to lose no money at all by making their games PC compatible, especially when you consider that up until now, Microsoft only sells it big titles at their own online store.
Well, Steam fans can rejoice, because it looks like that may be about to change (at some point…maybe?). Seriously though, we have to take all of this with a grain of salt because, despite what Microsoft’s top video game executive says, there is still a disconcerting lack of concrete details regarding when Microsoft games may be available on Steam.
Spencer heaped a lot of praise onto Steam during the interview;
“I look at Steam today, it’s on an incredible growth trajectory,” he said. “It’s a massive force in gaming; a positive force. I think it will be bigger a year from now than it is today. And five years later it will still be bigger again. I look at Valve as an important vendor for us on Windows. They are a critical part of gaming’s success on Windows. I don’t think Valve’s hurt by not having our first-party games in their store right now. They’re doing incredibly well. We will ship games on Steam again.”
However, despite acknowledging Steam as an incredibly successful and viable platform through which to sell games, it’s clear that Microsoft still places priority on growing its own Windows Store. When pressed, Spencer offered no specifics at all as to when certain titles would be available on Steam or even which titles (hopefully all of them).
Thing is, PC gamers have heard this kind of lip service from Microsoft before, and over the last few years it’s been Microsoft’s actions that have been heard louder than its words, and the message that has been sent is clear; PC will always be second fiddle to the console in Microsoft’s eyes.
From this interview, its obvious that Microsoft recognizes the business potential of Steam. What is still ambiguous, however, is to what extent Microsoft actually plans to take Steam gamers wishes into account as opposed to simply leverage PC gamer’s interest in Microsoft titles into Windows Store sales.
I find it a bit hard to believe that Microsoft plans on losing sales on titles like Gears of War 4, Quantum Break, or Halo Wars 2 by allowing these major, MAJOR Microsoft exclusive titles to be purchased anywhere other than Microsoft’s own Windows Store or traditional retailers. That may be the cynic in me, and I hope I’m wrong, but don’t be surprised when you see nothing but middling, unknown Microsoft titles being released on Steam. Fingers crossed, though.