Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney does not care for Microsoft’s vision for the future of PC gaming. In an op-ed published by The Guardian Friday morning, Sweeney accused Microsoft of using its new Universal Windows Platform initiative to build a “closed platform-within-a-platform” on Windows that would make it difficult for developers to sell software anywhere but its own online store.
The Universal Windows Platform (UWP) is a new software standard that will make apps compatible across Windows 10 PCs, mobile devices, and the Xbox One. Microsoft, Sweeney argued, is leveraging the new platform to force developers to sell their products through the Windows store by making it difficult to install or update UWP software anywhere else. It’s a business decision that, Sweeney argued, goes beyond giving Microsoft a competitive edge and would effectively prevent developers from connecting to their customers directly.
“Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry,” Sweeney said, “including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.”
Sweeney said he saw no problem with Microsoft running its own store. Instead, he suggested Microsoft should make the Universal Windows Platform a more open standard, similar to Windows current software API Win32, which does not seek to funnel customers into its store by crippling its competition.
Microsoft VP Kevin Gallo responded to Sweeney’s op-ed in a separate report at The Guardian, stating the Universal Windows Platform is “fully open” and “can be supported in any store.” He also specifically mentioned that Windows 10 users can “easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required.”
Though Xbox chief Phil Spencer suggested UWP could be freeing for Xbox developers, a gateway to making more PC-like Xbox hardware, Sweeney pointed out that Windows developers may not be willing to meet the company half-way and accept more regulation, as evidenced by the lack of software making the jump to the new Windows Store.
“Seven months after the launch of Windows Store alongside Windows 10, the place remains devoid of the top third-party games and signature applications that define the PC experience,” Sweeney said. “Where’s Photoshop? Grand Theft Auto V? FIFA 2016?”
Without the support of developers, Sweeney said, Windows’ latest plan will likely fail.
“Gamers, developers, publishers simply cannot trust the PC UWP ‘platform’ so long as Microsoft gives evasive, ambiguous and sneaky answers to questions about UWP’s future, as if it’s a PR issue,” Sweeney said. “This isn’t a PR issue, it’s an existential issue for Microsoft, a first-class determinant of Microsoft’s future role in the world.”
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