It is not yet the app-pocalyptic scenario that Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney has been painting these past few days, but some might see the omens in it. At GDC 2016, Microsoft’s Jason Ronald has confirmed that not only will Universal Windows Apps becoming to Xbox One soon, they’ll be coming in Summer. Perhaps even more worrying to some who have sympathized Sweeney’s point of view, Microsoft will also be merging the Windows Store and the Xbox Store into one, further emphasizing the image of one Windows 10 platform to rule them all.
It is no secret that Microsoft has long wanted to do this. Rather than try to persuade developers to target Windows on the desktop, then Windows Phone, then Xbox, it has decided to simply give them a single target: Windows 10. In theory, an app that stays within the bounds of Windows 10’s universal platform can run on any of those devices, even on the HoloLens and devices Microsoft hasn’t even thought of yet. Microsoft has been clear on that since day one, but the implications of that “aggressive”, as Sweeney calls it, campaign is only lately beginning to surface.
One of the key features of a UWP app is that it runs in a sandbox, safe from unauthorized intrusion and with limited reach into the OS itself. For PC gamers, both are heresies. Games, by nature, dig deep into the core of hardware, even should they pass through myriads of APIs. In addition, games, by convention, have been open to modding, especially on the PC. Sweeney and those who think like him see UWP as a closed garden that threatens to suffocate the very spirit of PC gaming as well as the cultre of the PC market itself. There are also some fears that Microsoft is signaling the fusion of PC and console gaming, something neither camp are probably willing to concede just yet.
Microsoft has two answers to those concerns. First is that developers are always free to develop games just for the Xbox and that alone. In fact, some UWP apps for Windows 10 Mobile are not even available for the desktop. The second is that Microsoft promises to expose more and more power to its Universal Windows Platform to the point that game developers will be quite comfortable developing for it just as they would be on the classic win32. How far Microsoft will go, however, is still an unanswered question.
To be fair, Microsoft’s GDC spiel about universal apps is sort of going in the opposite direction, bringing apps you’d mostly find on desktops and smartphones to the Xbox. The short term goal is to give gamers less reason to leave their game just to do trivial things on their PC or phone. The long term goal is to show app developers, and eventually game devs as well, how enticing it will be to be able to target multiple devices all at once, getting access to thousands of users you would normally not be able to reach, and earning a lot more money in the process.
SOURCE: Business Insider