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article imageWindows 10 a closed 'walled garden', claims veteran game dev

By James Walker     Mar 4, 2016 in Technology
Tim Sweeney, CEO of games giant Epic Games, has written a scathing attack on Microsoft's apparent plans to make the Windows 10 Store the de facto place to buy new PC games. Sweeny called on the industry to "fight" what he sees as monopolisation.
Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform (UWP) has been extended recently to place a greater focus on multi-platform gaming. Within the past week, Microsoft has brought several previously Xbox-exclusive triple-A games to the Windows 10 Store and confirmed it intends to keep doing so.
From Sweeny's point of view, Microsoft has an unfair advantage. The Windows Store is included out of the box on every new Windows 10 installation, pinned to the taskbar and immediately ready for gamers to use. If it contains the triple-A titles previously limited to services like Steam, players needn't look elsewhere for their games.
Sweeney doesn't want to ban Microsoft from using the Windows Store to sell games though. In an article published in the Guardian today, he explained that he wants Microsoft to let game developers sell their Universal Windows Apps from places other than the store, just as they can with current Win32 Windows desktop programs.
The Windows Store works very differently than the traditional way of installing programs on Windows. In the past, developers have been free to place their apps on their own website for download, or in third-party stores such as Steam and Good Man Gaming.
That changes with the Universal Windows Platform. Apps run in a sandboxed environment, isolated from the operating system and the user. They must be installed from the Windows Store to protect against packages being hijacked by malware from other download sources.
Sweeney wants Microsoft to end this restriction and allow users to make a choice to install UWP apps from other sources just as easily as they can legacy desktop programs. Currently, Microsoft takes a 30 percent cut on every purchase made through the Windows Store, preventing gamers, developers and publishers from engaging in direct commerce through each other.
By allowing developers to host games on their own sites, or with services like Steam, Microsoft would lose its share of the profit but create a healthier PC gaming ecosystem overall. Sweeney claims the company's current path will create a "walled garden" though where the role of third-party services is much less important to PC gaming than it is today.
"As the founder of a major Windows games developer and technology supplier, this is an op-ed I hoped I would never feel compelled to write," wrote Sweeney. "Epic has prided itself on providing software directly to customers ever since I started mailing floppy disks in 1991. We wouldn't let Microsoft close down the PC platform overnight without a fight, and therefore we won’t sit silently by while Microsoft embarks on a series of sneaky manoeuvres aimed at achieving this over a period of several years."
Sweeney acknowledged that there are people at Microsoft listening to the concerns of developers, noting that Xbox lead Phil Spencer has been particularly willing to sit down with Epic and talk about UWP's problems. The company has yet to come up with a satisfactory solution though, leading Sweeney to pitch his argument in public.
The veteran developer warned that companies may soon be forced to make a decision to either oppose Microsoft or lose control of their commerce, customer relationships and distribution platforms. The wave of Xbox games landing in the Windows Store this spring may be good for players today but is the first step towards a "Microsoft-controlled distribution and commerce monopoly," according to Sweeney.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, Pc, PC gaming
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