Microsoft’s Phil Spencer has admitted that the company hasn’t been concentrating on PC gaming in recent years as much as they should have and says that they could have done better.
Spencer’s revelation came about in an exclusive interview with Venture Beat, where he was frank about the current situation with Microsoft’s approach to gaming. As corporate Vice President of Microsoft, Spencer is responsible for several software and hardware departments and reported directly to departing CEO Steve Ballmer.
“Valve is right down the street from us. They’ve done a great job of keeping the PC ecosystem strong at a time where I don’t mind saying that we could have been more focused on what was going on in PC gaming. We were probably too focused on console,” said Spencer.
Spencer’s comments come four months after Microsoft made the decision to shut down the Games for Windows Live store, with plans to disable online features and shutting off servers associated with the service on 1 July 2014. Several gamers, myself included, will be left stranded without online multiplayer from that point on.
Games for Windows Live (GFWL) was Microsoft’s attempt to offer a Steam-like store for purchases of PC games and tied achievements and other online features into your Xbox Live account. However, with several large players like Valve’s Steam, EA Origin, Ubisoft’s uPlay, Good Old Games, and Direct2Drive crowding the online market, GFWL wasn’t always an attractive solution.
Instead of a GFWL client on Windows 8, Microsoft is planning to bring PC gaming under the Xbox brand and will probably use the Modern UI Gaming app on Windows 8 to achieve this.
The interview later steered onto how Microsoft was watching Valve and whether they thought the Half-Life developer’s chances of creating an operating system, a hardware standard and a new controller would pan out.
“They’re smart. They’ve been through it. I think they can do it, but I think it will take time,” said Spencer.
“There is a difference between being a game developer, running a store, and being a platform company. That’s an evolutionary jump. They made the jump from building Half-Life to having a set of franchises to running Steam. They did a good job of learning through that. Now they’re taking the next job to become a platform company — in some sense a hardware company, but in the truest sense more of an OS company. That’s not an easy transition.”