Epic’s co-founder Tim Sweeney has not been quiet about his opposition to the Windows Store, seeing it as a land grab by Microsoft of the app distribution stream for the platform.
In a recent speech at the GamesBeat Summit he confirmed that he has not been reassured by Microsoft’s assurances that the UWP platform was open and that even apps which are written using the framework were not locked into the Windows Store and Microsoft’ 30% cut.
He expressed the somewhat paranoid assertion that Microsoft’s Windows Store moves was like boiling a frog, and will eventually end with a closed ecosystem.
“Microsoft has been taking a series of steps for a while now to close down the Windows ecosystem,” Sweeney said at GamesBeat Summit. “They can’t do it all at once, because there would be an industry uproar. But one little step at a time, they’re trying to take it all over. UWP is another step in that direction.”
Sweeney felt this would inhibit innovation such as VR, noting:
“The GPU revolution started there, well before Microsoft adopted it. If that had relied on Microsoft initiative and Microsoft had actively blocked external drivers and apps supporting these things they didn’t approve of, it never would have happened,” Sweeney said. “Open platforms encourage innovation, and when you have a closed platform and a monopoly on commerce, it stifles it.”
He did not see Linux and Steam Machines as a realistic alternative to Windows, noting:
“Windows is the platform of choice for gamers. It’s the only choice for enterprise. If we want to have an open platform, we have to fight to keep Windows open. Linux is not a realistic fallback plan.”
He was also not impressed with the Apple App Store, noting “… I don’t think anybody outside the top 500 in iOS is able to run a business off their game. This closed platform has a top 20 and if you’re not in that top 20 your sales fall off radically. You have one app store, one model publicizing apps. I feel like it fails a large percentage of developers out there.”
His objection came down to a fundamental lack of trust in Microsoft, saying
“With Windows, Microsoft has given itself the ability to force patch updates without your authorization. It will just update itself and you can’t do anything about it. They can change the rules of the game at any time. They call it “sideloading” now, because other stores aren’t official, and they’ve launched the operating system with that disabled. They forced a patch to enable it. They say a lot about openness, but they want us to play this game by porting all our apps to this new platform and they’re not telling us what the rules are. They reserve the right to change the rules. I don’t think they’re going to change them in our favor. That’s my fear.”
Interestingly despite his objections Epic has just released Shadow Complex into the Windows Store, showing that in the end pragmatism may win out.
Given Microsoft’s penchant for making dramatic changes without much consultation I think we need high-profile outspoken industry leaders to keep Microsoft honest.
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