Move over Steam: Microsoft planning to make Windows Store the main distribution channel for PC games

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The Rise of the Tomb Raider was the first triple A title to be distributed by the Windows Store, but it was already clear that it will not be the last, even before Microsoft announced that “Quantum Break” will be available on both PC and the Xbox with cross-platform purchase, with Xbox buyers getting a free version of the PC game with cross-platform save. The later announcement was paradoxically met with much moaning, with Xbox gamers complaining about lack of exclusives for the platform.

Of course with the Xbox One now running Windows 10 there is now increasingly less reason to discriminate in favour of the device. In fact Microsoft may in fact favour the PC platform, with Chinese site WPDang reporting from sources that Microsoft may release Halo Wars 2 via the Windows Store even before it is available for the Xbox, with others such as Gears of War 4, Fable Legends and more in the way, according to a now deleted Gamespot mention.

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With only 18 million Xbox Ones being sold and more than 200 million PCs it is clear why Microsoft is looking to service the larger ecosystem, with Microsoft’s Phil Spencer saying on twitter that cross-buy will ultimately be a benefit for all concerned.
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Of course there is already an incumbent in that position – Steam, who is believed to have raked in $3 billion in revenue in 2015. Steam’s Gabe Newell has always been paranoid about the Windows Store in Windows 8 and Windows 10, and its potential to displace Steam, which offers the same benefits of consistency and reliability of experience as the Steam store. With statistics showing that nearly half of all Steam gamers already on Windows 10, there is great potential for Microsoft to retake this market via their first party store, particularly with advantages such as cross-buy, which Steam can not offer.

Microsoft is expected to reveal more about their Windows 10 gaming initiative at an event on the 25th February next week, and of course will discuss things in even more detail at GDC Game Developers Conference in March, Build at the end of March and June’s E3 game show.

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