In August of last year, it looked like Microsoft was finally getting serious about PC gaming again when it hired former Steam boss Jason Holtman. Those hoping for a PC gaming renaissance from Microsoft were met with disappoint last month when it was revealed that Holtman would be leaving Microsoft after only six months on the job. While his departure may make it seem that it's going to be nothing but Xbox One from Microsoft here on out, Xbox' Phil Spencer says that's not the case.
Edge Magazine reports that Spencer participated in a fireside chat at GDC 2014 last week where he revealed that Microsoft isn't leaving PC gaming anytime soon. He points to the reveal of Direct X 12 as one of the many contributions it will be making to the PC gaming scene over the next year. That being said, he does say admit that Valve and its Steam service have been better PC gaming stewards than Microsoft:
“They’ve been the backbone for PC gaming for the last decade when you think about the work that they’ve done,” Spencer said. “As the Windows company I appreciate what they’ve done. In a lot of ways they’ve focused more on PC gaming than we have, and for me that’s something inside the company that we’ll have a renewed focus on – Windows and PC gaming inside of Microsoft is definitely happening – you saw the DX12 demos here and you will see more from us over the summer.”
While Microsoft has seemingly been content to let Valve rule the PC gaming roost over the last decade while it takes over the living room with Xbox, Valve is now gunning for the same room with its Steam Machines. You'd think Microsoft would be a little upset by Valve's sudden entry into the console space, but Spencer sees it only as a good thing:
“What they’re doing with Steam Machines makes sense for them,” Spencer said. “They’ve got a great storefront and 64 million accounts and consumers that buy a lot of content. It’s very smart for Valve to take the installed base of the customers they have and get them on the [living room] screen. Competition is a good thing, we learn a ton from what Sony and Nintendo do, and we learn a ton from what Valve does too.”
So, is Microsoft suddenly going to start supporting the PC with the same gusto that Valve does? Probably not. It still needs to divert most of its resources to Xbox, but it can do better in the PC space. Getting rid of Games for Windows Live is a good start, but it needs to either build a better service in its place or move to Steam. It's already publishing PC games on Steam sans Games for Windows Live and it very may well continue that strategy going forward. Valve has the best distribution platform on PC and Microsoft would be wise to work with them going forward.
Image via MXE Videos/YouTube