Over the past few months, Microsoft have been taking a lot of steps to try and push their PC gaming store as a direct competition to Valves Steam platform. This move has angered some gamers and is quite an unusual, but not unexpected move from Microsoft. Microsoft are in a powerful position over the competition in that they have a mainstream PC operating system to push their gaming division onto. If they go ahead with this, what will be the point of a dedicated console? Will the Xbox become a Windows Steam Box?
When you think about it, the Xbox is already like a steam box, but the PC equivalent of Steam is no where mature enough to match what Valve have. Now that Microsoft are working hard to change this, could we see future consoles just be a low spec gaming PC. It might seem stupid, but it would actually make a ton of sense for Microsoft to do this.
Currently they have an Xbox store and a Windows store. The Xbox store has had many years to grow and become a great marketplace, but their PC store is still going through the awkward stages as it is trying to get on its feet. It would make perfect sense if Microsoft only have one single store that is shared across PC and Xbox. There wouldnt be many technical issues here as its already a simple task to make an Xbox game run on the PC (from a developer standpoint). This will become even more easy if the console is just a Windows PC. One game build will run perfectly on 2 platforms with no tweaking at all.
Having a unified network across 2 platforms will allow for cross play style functionality. Windows and Xbox gamers playing online together, will be massive news for everyone as it means more gamers in one place playing the same games. No more dead lobbies for PC gamers. There are a lot of pros to this, but what are the drawbacks?
Well this could be devastating news as well as being good news. If Microsoft make both platforms unified, it means that all games will be restrained by the xbox. No more 4k resolution on PC as the game will need to be able to run on the Windows console, but this could also kill console gaming. If you are going to buy a console that is technically just a PC, then why not just buy a PC to begin with? We all know that piracy is causing developers to make a massive loss on PC. While copy protection is getting better, it is still meaning that developers are loosing money. What will happen when there are no more consoles and everyone has access to pirate games much easier.
It is very difficult to see how this will work out, but it does look like the next logical step for Microsoft in creating their next console on a unified network is to ditch the current form of the Xbox and make a Windows Steam Box.