At E3 this year, Microsoft made a game-changing announcement. All Microsoft-published Xbox One games would also be playable on PC. The new program, called Xbox Play Anywhere, will allow gamers to buy titles like Gears of War 4 and Forza Horizon 3 for their console, and pick up right where they left off with a Universal Windows Platform version on their gaming PC.
But less than a month out, and the Redmond team is already rolling back that promise.
Read the fine print
It all started with the Anniversary Update blog post, where Corporate Vice President Yusuf Mehdi announced the update would roll out on August 2nd. The original post (available here in cached form), which went live on June 29th, reaffirmed Microsoft’s commitment to Play Anywhere:
“Every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store.”
But as keen-eyed Reddit user _Primeey pointed out (accents added by them), the blog post was updated with new language a few days after it was published.
“Every new title published from Microsoft Studios that we showed onstage at E3 this year will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store.”
Those few extra words have major implications on the entire Play Anywhere program. It means that instead of knowing that future titles like the inevitable Halo 6 will make it to PC, Microsoft will be able to decide on a case-by-case basis which games are Play Anywhere, and which will remain console exclusive. And as it turns out, Microsoft may have to change the text again to make up for a Microsoft-published title, that was onstage at E3, that won’t be Play Anywhere.
Digital Trends Gaming Writer Mike Epstein reached out to Microsoft to ask about Dead Rising 4, a game that was, in fact, showed onstage at E3 this year, at least as a trailer. The game doesn’t appear on the initial list of Play Anywhere titles.
An Xbox representative had this to say.
“While Capcom Vancouver is excited about the potential of Xbox Play Anywhere, Dead Rising 4 will not be an Xbox Play Anywhere title. The team is thrilled to partner with Microsoft once again to help bring their ambitious vision for Dead Rising 4 to life this holiday, where fans will be able to play the game first on Xbox One and Windows 10 PCs.”
While the wording there is a little tricky, it’s clear the game won’t be coming to Play Anywhere. It will still release for both PC and Xbox, but users who want to play on both systems will have to shell out twice, and may not be able to carry over saved progress and friends like fully-fledged Play Anywhere titles. We’ve reached out to Capcom for comment and will update if we hear back.
Here we go again
The backtracking, and subsequent announcement regarding Dead Rising 4, is disheartening, to say the least. PC gamers rejoiced at the possibility of Xbox One titles on high-resolution screens, with all of the advanced graphical features and customization they’ve come to expect from the platform. Now it looks like Microsoft will be picking and choosing titles in order to retain a tight grip on the console exclusive market.
Still, Microsoft’s change of heart isn’t exactly surprising. As hardware prices drop and budget-friendly graphics cards like the RX 480 bring 1080p and even 1440p gaming into the mainstream, consoles will have to fight to remain relevant. Console exclusives are one of the main draws when looking at consoles, or at least that’s what Microsoft and Sony would have you believe. It seems Microsoft isn’t quite as willing to let go of that notion as we previously thought.
[Additional reporting by Mike Epstein]