A new day may be dawning for fans of PC games, who have long felt like second-class citizens thanks to the inflated popularity of next-gen consoles like the Xbox 360 and PS3. There was a time, not so long ago, when computer games were considered a cut above their console compatriots, simply because computer systems had more power and better graphics capabilities. But the inclusion of HD hardware to the console scene(not to mention hard drives and internet access) quickly snatched away the dominance that computers held in the gaming world. As a result, the marketplace for console games grew steadily while PC games went into decline. Of course, there are still quite a few online games to occupy those who prefer a keyboard to a controller, but the forecast may be brightening for PC-game lovers since Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will integrate Xbox Live.
Unfortunately, the latest iteration in the Windows OS world is still a fair way off; it’s not slated to drop until sometime next year and no delivery date has yet been announced. In fact, the first preview of the new software (for developers) only just happened, and consumers probably won’t get a peek at it for a while (although screenshots have been released on the internet). But it seems Microsoft is intent on pushing the confluence to game developers as a new avenue of exploration. It seems like the natural course of events, actually, since many game-makers are probably beginning to reach the limits of what they can do with current consoles. Making games that are compatible with not only the Windows OS but also Xbox Live could offer nearly unlimited possibilities when it comes to connecting players with each other (and with advertising).
As Xbox Director of Programming Larry Hyrb blogged, “Bringing Xbox Live to Windows 8 is part of our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy.” Ah, if only all mega-corporations were this altruistic. In truth, though, Microsoft is making a pretty smart move. People are beginning to grow bored with consoles that have been on the market for several years now with nothing new to recommend them. Plus, hardware companies probably aren’t doing as much business now that so many people own these consoles. By swinging the pendulum back towards computers, they can sell both hardware and software to gamers while giving them exactly what they want. And the potential for earnings through Xbox Live is practically unlimited, since crossovers, advertising, and even sales can easily be integrated in the online arena.
The only thing they really have to do is convince game developers to start making their top titles for the PC. And according to Microsoft, their recent preview was geared at displaying just how easy that would be. In addition, they touted the “flicker-free” feature provided by the inclusion of Direct X 11, which will offer picture quality that outshines the competition. If this concept takes off, games will be sold via the Windows Store (their online app store). PC gamers, keep your fingers crossed.