Epic Games CEO savages Microsoft's Windows gaming plans

Studio head behind Gears of War brands Microsoft's Windows store "an embarrassment"

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has accused Microsoft of "moving against the entire PC industry" by moving Xbox and Windows gaming to the Universal Windows Platform.

The co-founder of Epic - creators of flagship Xbox title Gears of War - has slammed the company's move towards a cohesive gaming ecosystem in a Guardian editorial.

Microsoft has recently announced plans to seriously step up the integration between its Xbox and Windows gaming platforms.

This includes features such as cross-compatibility between the two systems, as well as the announcement that all of its upcoming Xbox titles would also be available on PC, including a free version of Forza 6 for Windows 10.

However, the catch is that Microsoft wants PC gamers to eschew digital distribution services like Steam, which has utterly dominated the PC gaming space for years.

Instead, the company wants games to run as Universal Windows Apps, disseminated and downloaded from the Windows App Store.

The problem developers and publishers have with this is that it is effectively a closed ecosystem.

"Microsoft's shiny new 'Universal Windows Platform' is locked down," Sweeney explained, "and by default it's impossible to download UWP apps from the websites of publishers and developers, to install them, update them, and conduct commerce in them outside of the Windows Store."

He accused the company of forcing users and developers to use its distribution platform or miss out on features, and said that unless Microsoft opens the UWP up, then it "can, should, must and will, die as a result of industry backlash".

"They're curtailing users' freedom to install full-featured PC software," he claimed, "and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers."

PC gaming already has a large and vibrant user base, but one of Microsoft's main problems is that virtually no-one uses its app store or the software therein. This is largely due to the fact that it lacks a huge amount of popular games.

Sweeney rightly savaged the current software selection of the Windows Store, calling it "an embarrassment" and asking "does Microsoft really think that independent PC developers and publishers... are going to sign up for this current UWP fiasco?"

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