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Microsoft XBox (Games) News Technology

Microsoft Plans To Make Windows 10, Xbox One Game "Crossbuys" A Habit (pcworld.com) 153

Gamers who preorder Remedy's upcoming Xbox One game, Quantum Break, will receive a free digital copy for Windows 10 PCs -- a "crossbuy" strategy that Microsoft's Xbox chief plans to make a "platform feature" of the gaming console.

Behind the scenes, Microsoft has worked to tie its Windows 10 and Xbox One operating systems closer together, sharing features and data. The Xbox One includes versions of Skype and Microsoft Edge, and Microsoft has said that universal apps written for Windows 10 can theoretically run on the Xbox One, as well as Windows 10 PCs and Windows 10 Mobile phones. Eventually, Microsoft envisions a world where PC and Xbox One gamers will drift between platforms, and where gamers on each platform will be able to compete with one another.
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Microsoft Plans To Make Windows 10, Xbox One Game "Crossbuys" A Habit

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  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @07:19PM (#51507751) Journal

    I bet the news will motivate Steam to port even more games to Linux. And who knows, we might see some Linux-only blockbuster exclusives soon.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      A game can't be a blockbuster and Linux exclusive. The simple fact of tiny marketshare ensures this is simply not a possibility at the moment and the only way a company would do this is if Steam gave them massive funding (10's of millions) which I doubt is on the cards given how poorly steamboxes have done.

      • A game can't be a blockbuster and Linux exclusive.

        At the moment.
        Sure, if I had to bet, I'd bet on Windows becoming the de-facto software marketplace, and Microsoft eventually crushing Steam and all the non-Windows game development. But still, Steam and Linux have a chance. Not an insignificant one, either.

        • I hope that happens, I would love to be able to play name brand games on Linux, Windows 10 isn't a habit, its a necessity for most games. A habit I'm loath to have, but there it is.
        • by kuzb ( 724081 )

          Not until open source devs start taking he general market seriously enough to up their game. They're still making the shittiest most unfriendly UIs out of all the OSes. Even android, arguably the most user friendly Linux distro, had to be made from the ground up with a strong focus on UI.

          That's really the problem though. Linux users want to rule the desktop world, but they don't want to "dumb down" the OS so it's usable by regular people. Make a decision, you can't have it both ways.

        • Sure, if I had to bet, I'd bet on Windows becoming the de-facto software marketplace, and Microsoft eventually crushing Steam and all the non-Windows game development.

          It's worth mentioning that this strategy they're trying to pull with Quantum Break (console and Windows 10 exclusive, not available on other versions) is something they've already tried. Halo 2 for Windows Vista had its fair share of issues, but it certainly didn't help promote the platform, or gained any sympathizers. I wonder what possessed them to try the same strategy again,

      • by Blaskowicz ( 634489 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @08:01PM (#51508033)

        What about a linux game that ships with compatibility libraries for Windows :). We could even inflict things like a version of Pulseaudio on Windows. Linux users who can't run the linux version on linux will be able to try to run that mess in Wine.

        • Here's what people need to remember... If a studio releases a title for PlayStation 4, they're basically there on a Linux port. They just need a market to justify the QA effort and an assertion that engaging in that QA effort would lead to increased sales over remaining on a more limited number of platforms.
          • If a studio releases a title for PlayStation 4, they're basically there on a Linux port.

            Not really, no. The PS4 runs a variant of FreeBSD, but that's not the most important distinction. The most important difference between PS4 and Linux is that on the PS4 you can be sure that all the drivers are well-supported.

          • by scdeimos ( 632778 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @10:05PM (#51508507)

            I'll let you in on a little secret: what host operating system is used is not a pressing issue for most game developers.

            File system access APIs are probably the least critical item on the road map. The biggest problem is the graphics API. Windows favours DirectX, most linuxes favour OpenGL, OS X tends towards OpenGL as well. PlayStation 4, on the other hand, uses Sony's proprietary GNM and GNMX APIs to get access to the custom silicon in the GPU. While PS4's use of GDDR5 is great for on-GPU operations the bandwidth between the system and GPU is atrocious and leads to a whole slew of different performance tuning issues and considerations than you'd see on desktop system. Once you have your engines nailed down on each platform most work goes into tweaking assets to keep graphics performance consistent.

        • by kuzb ( 724081 )

          If it runs like shit on Windows, the game will fail. End of story.

          You need to stop thinking like a clueless zealot and start coming to terms with the fact that the average gamer runs Windows and will likely never switch because there is no reason to. He doesn't give a hot shit about your ranting, he just wants his games to run well.

          If Linux wants the gamer market they need to have a compelling reason to get people to want to use it. Features or performance gamers can't live without. So far, Linux has no

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @07:49PM (#51507975)

      You know, even as a Windows user, I'm happy Linux is getting more games, but let's please not kid ourselves. A Linux-only blockbuster exclusive is right up there with "year of the desktop" wishful thinking. Windows still has 95% of the desktop market, or something thereabouts. Its only real competition is other platforms which are eating up previously desktop-exclusive functions. The closest we'll get to a Linux-exclusive AAA game in the near future is if it's released exclusively on Android.

      Anyhow, the notion of different platforms competing against each other ignores a pretty obvious issue that gamers and most game designers have known forever. It's not a technical limitation that restricts PC games and console gamers from playing together. It's a difference in control hardware, which ends up making console and PC games very different games with respect to control schemes, and thus game design. For instance, pit a PC FPS player against a console player, and everyone knows who's going to generally have a huge advantage. Same thing with a RTS. It's not a knock against consoles - it's just a reality that a mouse and keyboard is a far more precise and flexible input device, so has a massive advantage in most cross-platform play that's geared to those devices.

      And as far as making cross-platform games... again, the biggest hurdle is not really technical, assuming you're working with a decently designed game engine. It's one of adapting the game design to different form factors and control schemes. My game engine is written in *very* portable C++, with just a very thin layer for OS-specific stuff. It's actually pretty straightforward to port it to new platforms, so long as they have comparable APIs for rendering video and audio, etc.

      Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of cross-buying games across platforms. Many Steam games already do this, so I'm glad they're joining the party.

      • It's not a technical limitation that restricts PC games and console gamers from playing together. It's a difference in control hardware, which ends up making console and PC games very different games with respect to control schemes, and thus game design.

        I think you're referring to "competitive FPS games" because PC and console players DO play together already in other genres. Besides, there's nothing stopping a console game from supporting multiple methods of control and I have several console games that DO.

        For instance, pit a PC FPS player against a console player, and everyone knows who's going to generally have a huge advantage.

        Yeah in a "headshot from a mile away centric" FPS, but there are multiple types of FPS. But I'd take analog movement over WASD any day of the week, so I like hybrid control methods and prefer using them when supported. In that instance you use an an

    • I wish but it will not. This is only a move to sell more Xbox Ones. The sale numbers are more than in the toilet. Destiny is the only must have game on the Xbox and it is also on PS4.

      • The sale numbers are more than in the toilet.

        Are they? I know they were low but I figured the numbers would pick up over time.

        • Last holiday 2015. PS4 sold 35M. Xbox did 15M. I read some where it is 2 to 1 on total sales. PS4 has games people want to plan. Xbox not so much. Halo 5 was a flop.

        • by kuzb ( 724081 )

          They aren't. He's just a clueless idiot that wishes something Microsoft-made would fail.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Yeah, Portal 3 and Half-Life 3 for Linux first. Imagine that.

    • by Ranbot ( 2648297 )

      I bet the news will motivate Steam to port even more games to Linux. And who knows, we might see some Linux-only blockbuster exclusives soon.

      Slashdot's starry-eyed Linux users are so cute.

      Instead of developing games for a nearly insignificant fraction of the market, it's more likely this would motivate Valve/Steam to develop console-like devices so people can play PC games on their living room TVs. Oh wait, they are already doing that!

  • Watch whether games you buy are "crossbuy" so you can avoid them. Piss-poor console ports are already a known problem, but when it becomes pretty much a requirement that whatever you want to play on your PC has to run on an anemic console, you may bet the 60 bucks that it's going to be just a crappy port with no consideration to different controls, different resolutions or different play styles than waste that money on buying the rubbish.

    I'm already fed up enough with more and more games being developed for

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The whole point is they AREN'T ports. The same code runs on both as they both run the same OS. The only thing that needs to change is input support.

      • Ah, so there is now a good excuse that the controls suck, the resolution can't be tuned to the native resolution of the screen, the aiming is wonky, the difficulty is insulting to three year old autistic paraplegics, there are loading times where there is no sensible reason to have any since your SSD doesn't have to read BluRays and the network support needs a lot of your support to even consider making a connection.

        • Re:In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

          by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @08:01PM (#51508031)

          Why would a PC game that happens to be running on a console run badly on a PC? I've got breaking news for you: PC games also manage to run on lower spec crummy desktops. The Minimum System Requirements are usually a few generations *older* than the latest consoles. So if you're going to make a cross-release game you just make the PC version and then hardcode the resolution to "1920x1080" and the quality settings to "Textures: Good, Models: Better, Shaders:Best,Lighting: Good." And hit ship.

          Also, this might surprise you but every PC Game you probably play today will work great with an Xbox One controller. Just plug it in and you're good to go. The controls don't suck.

          • Try any RTS game with your XBox controller, I dare you.

            Aside of that, yes, there are actually a select few good console-to-PC ports. They're just exceedingly rare and the hit-to-miss ratio is not favorable enough to warrant risking a dime on trying to find out whether one is.

            • Really? Personally, I very much enjoyed Mass Effect, Tomb Raider, Dragon Age, and Halo.

              • I think that Mass Effect, Tomb Raider and Dragon Age fall more in the RPG category. Not quite the same.

              • You do know that RTS stands for "Real Time Strategy", right?

                The games you have listed are FPS games that have a thin RPG veneer on them and they are not the slightest RTS in any way.

              • RTS... Mass Effect....

                *faceplam*

              • Try again with some Real Time Strategy titles.

                I think you conflated it with FPS titles. Which the games you mention aren't either.

            • Try any RTS game with your XBox controller, I dare you.

              So you get the keyboard for the xbox. Maybe a third party joystick. So what?

              • So you get the keyboard for the xbox. Maybe a third party joystick. So what?

                When you play online multi-player you get owned by all the players with a keyboard and mouse. A game-pad controller simply cannot compete with a keyboard and mouse for speed and accuracy.

                • There ARE genres other than FPS's you know. And need I remind you that console and PC players ARE playing together already.

                  For example, War Thunder. War Thunder is a vehicle combat game (by the same guys who did IL-2) designed for accessibility to those who AREN'T Janes-reading bearded ex-military grognards. It has an "instructor" mouse flying mode for those PC users who have no desire to use a joystick. The HOTAS guys on PC consider that easy-mode and actually consider the Dual Shock users kindred sp

                  • Yes, there are other genres than FPS and RTS. I wouldn't wanna play a platformer on a keyboard/mouse setup. Then again, I don't want to play platformer games. I want to play FPS and RTS.

                    And watching those genres that are at best as at home on a console as jump'n'run games are on keyboard/mouse setups being butchered to be crammed into consoles and then half-assedly ported to a sensible platform for them really pains me.

            • Try any RTS game with your XBox controller, I dare you.

              So in your bizzaro world you think that a cross play RTS will start with the Console version and then impose a gamepad on the desktop version?! If anything they'll start with the mouse and keyboard RTS (where RTSs actually sell well) and then slap on an awkward (and FREE) console/gamepad port.

              Aside of that, yes, there are actually a select few good console-to-PC ports. They're just exceedingly rare and the hit-to-miss ratio is not favorable enough to warrant risking a dime on trying to find out whether one is.

              Yes, Console/PC multiplatform games are a real hit and miss except for in the last 12 months (including but not limited to....)

              Fallout 4
              XCom
              The Witness
              Rise of the Tomb Raider
              DiRT
              Helldivers
              Grandtheft Auto 5
              The Witcher

            • Try any RTS game with your XBox controller, I dare you.

              You do know that the RTS genre originated on consoles, right? And that base-centric RTS without all that silly APM obsessed "you have to micromanage every unit so you need to be hopped up on Ritalin to be a competitive tournament player" paradigm work fairly well.

              So yes, I HAVE played RTS with a controller. Basically you control the mouse pointer with the joypad. You can probably find video of people playing Dune 2000, the C&C's, or Warzone 2100 on a PSone on youtube. ..

          • by PJ6 ( 1151747 )

            Why would a PC game that happens to be running on a console run badly on a PC? I've got breaking news for you: PC games also manage to run on lower spec crummy desktops. The Minimum System Requirements are usually a few generations *older* than the latest consoles. So if you're going to make a cross-release game you just make the PC version and then hardcode the resolution to "1920x1080" and the quality settings to "Textures: Good, Models: Better, Shaders:Best,Lighting: Good." And hit ship.

            Also, this might surprise you but every PC Game you probably play today will work great with an Xbox One controller. Just plug it in and you're good to go. The controls don't suck.

            But the controls do suck.

            Remember the Diablo-style drag-and-drop inventory system introduced 20 years ago? Well for modern games, making a good inventory system is effing rocket science. Look at the inventory system in Borderlands (any version) and tell me how the hell that got out of design, let alone passed QA. Let's play Unreal Tournament (1999, 2004, or 2015 alpha) together, you with a controller, me with a mouse and keyboard, and tell me there's no difference.

            For some things, the controller will ALW

    • Re:In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

      by im_thatoneguy ( 819432 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @07:40PM (#51507889)

      Xbox and PS4 are both x86 PCs. If anything every console game is just a specific quality setting that's been well polished. This notion of controls being crappy is ludicrous--it's been 10 years since console controls have seen any major change for first person shooters. It's been 30 years since there's been a major change from WASD and Mouse+Keyboard. It's not like developers have to spent a ton of time refining controls these days. Some games play better or worse with a control pad. I enjoy Rocket League with a control pad and I play Fallout 4 with a control pad... and I just use an XBox One controller on the PC for both. Steam works great with a control pad. I play Battlefield 4 and TF2 with a mouse and keyboard.

      Porting for Windows 10 takes nearly no work. You're developing either a DirectX12 game for Windows or you're developing a DirectX12 game for Windows. Create your art assets at multiple detail levels. Polish your shaders to run at levels that run smoothly on the XBox One. Then for the PC give people the option of cranking the settings and resolution to the Max.

      I don't like to buy Xbox One games anymore because I want to also be able to play them on my laptop with a controller plugged in when I'm on a plane or in a hotel while traveling. I like to be able to play games on my PC at work during lunch. But I also would love to be able to play my same games on my Xbox at home which until recently had a better video card and cpu.

      The Xbox One is just becoming one of many reference PCs like the Surface Pro line. The Xbox One Controller is now available for PC and Xbox One. The Oculus Rift is shipping with an XBox One controller. I can't see how you can defend lock-in with consoles. Why wouldn't you want to play your PC games on your XBox? Why wouldn't you want to play your Xbox games on the PC?

      • Because to run a PC game on an XBox it has to be cut down and trimmed to fit to the limitations of the console. And you don't think they'd give the PC something "extra", like, say, improved graphics, better resolution or multimonitor support.

        Wasn't there even some kind of provision in the contractual requirements for console developers that they must not create a "better" version than the one on the console?

        Now why would I not want that for my PC game, I wonder.

        • by kuzb ( 724081 )

          The part where your ridiculous argument tends to fall apart is that most modern games still run on 5-year old hardware.

          • by donaldm ( 919619 )

            The part where your ridiculous argument tends to fall apart is that most modern games still run on 5-year old hardware.

            You are sort of correct however however I will use Quantum Break as an example. You will need as the minimum System Requirements: Windows 10 (64-bit), DirectX 12, Intel Core i5 4460 2.70 GHz or AMD FX-6300 Nvidia GeForce GTX 760 or AMD Radeon R7 260x, 2GB video RAM and 8GB RAM.

            Now that is fine if your 5 year old PC meets those specifications, but I somehow doubt that most older PC's will be able to play this game without an upgrade.

      • by JackAxe ( 689361 )
        "This notion of controls being crappy is ludicrous..."

        I'm guessing you only game on a gamepad? If you want an example of a modern game that has absolutely horrible controls on anything but a gamepad, look at Dragon Age: Inquisition. Its controls are absolute shit on a mouse when in combat -- the first DA has fantastic controls. Despite EAware's lies, the game was designed only for a gamepad, so when it comes to mouse controls, they are downright crap and complete afterthought. This game is one of the
    • The idea with a single underlying OS and API is they aren't ports anymore. You write a game for one and it runs on both. Consoles nowadays are just customised and specialised PC's, gone are the days when a port was a massive undertaking.
      • That sounds great in theory. In reality, it's not quite that simple. Many game engines are already cross platform. We already know how to do this from a technical perspective.

        The real work is in mapping controls and tuning gameplay, design, interfaces, etc, to work with those different control schemes and form factors (if you're talking about different sizes). PCs also require much more work to scale properly than console games, since they can work with a very wide variety of hardware - and this tends t

    • by donaldm ( 919619 )

      Correct me if I am wrong but one thing I did not notice in the article is how Microsoft approaches the second hand market with respect to Quantum Break.

      Ok let's say someone goes out and buys Quantum Break for their XBox then uses the digital download of the PC version to install on their PC. Personally I don't see any problems with this however the words "digital download" sets off alarm bells. Now say that person goes to a store that deals in second hand games and trades or sells their copy of Quantum Brea

      • To me that is Microsoft harking back to the introduction of XB1 and basically having a no second hand games policy but this time they are doing it by stealth.

        Worth noting: the original plan is a better deal for the customer. MS was talking about how people who owned games could share them with a certain number of friends. So you'd need one copy among 5 friends, and two of them could be playing simultaneously. (MS gave the specific example of two friends playing online against each other.)

        By contrast, you don't get shit for the trade in value of a game.

    • but when it becomes pretty much a requirement that whatever you want to play on your PC has to run on an anemic console

      I think the issue is that it is more of a requirement that whatever you want to play has to run on some kind of anemic budget laptop. Check out the steam hardware survey sometime.

      I'm already fed up enough with more and more games being developed for some console, then being half-assed ported to PC to cash in again

      the PC is an afterthought due to the buying habits of PC gamers themselves. Some guy buying Skyrim for $5 on some steam Sale in 2016, isn't going to be a target customer for Bethesda. Neither are all the pirates in Eastern Europe.

      • Oh, I would love to buy games on release day. But with always-online DRM, why bother? I can't play it within the next 30-90 days anyway.

  • Steam is having enough difficultly convincing developers to sell a game for three platform. How are developers and publisher going to gobble this up?

  • Steam already allow me to start a game on Linux, and continue playing it on my Macbook while on the road. It's another case of Microsoft playing catch-up while trying to sound innovative.

    GOG is not that far behind either.

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Sunday February 14, 2016 @08:57PM (#51508259)

    Last time Microsoft released a first person Halo game on PC? 9 years ago, with Halo 2, and even that was three years after the console version.

    Put your money where your mouth is, Microsoft.

  • This sounds great. I can play games at home on my Xbox/TV and on the road on my PC. Not really sure why anyone is complaining about this.
  • I'm still waiting for Windows 10 to come out of alpha testing.(Seriously it has a bug that causes the start button to not work. When this happens store apps and edge might not work either. The solution is to either create a new account or possibly reinstall windows. How the hell did that one get missed?)
    • We work on PC's for a living. I haven't seen this bug in months. It's been patched. Try updating to the latest build, please. At least try running sfc /scannow.
      • Actually I have the latest build when this happened. Tried sfc /scannow and it failed. Actually tried the things listed here http://home.bt.com/tech-gadget... [bt.com] and tried to reinstall apps as well which didn't work. They're right that if you create a new account it comes back.(Or install classic shell.) Oh to make matters worse I actually did a clean install of Windows 10. (I upgraded my system to register it with Microsoft and then wiped the disk and did an install.) Before anybody asks I have an Asrock Z7
      • I also work on computers for a living and I can tell you the bug is very much alive. I saw it as recently as 2 weeks ago.
  • So if you ever want to play your Xbox games at the landfill where they bury all of the unwanted Windows 10 phones, this is good news.
  • The console performs bad: Let's promote cross platform with the PC
    On the other hand if the console was performing well, they'd do everything in their power to keep the PC as far from the Xbone as possible.

  • But, but, but, that's a lost sale! Are you making the ridiculous suggestion that these people "weren't buying a second copy anyway"? Are you implying Microsoft is doing this crossbuy feature because it doesn't cost them anything?
  • If they had started to do this back in the XBox360 days. I love gaming, so I have a PC and a console. I do double dip time to time, for games like Battlefield, Fallout, and Skyrim. But if Microsoft is going to make cross licenses like Steam does with all its vendors for PC/Mac/Linux, then I would have bought an XBox One going into this generation. I'd already have saved money by Fallout 4 on PC/PS4 if the cross platform was just built in to begin with.

    A good move by Microsoft for sure. The next generation a

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