Xbox gaming chief has sights set on improving Microsoft Store experience

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Gears of War 4

Xbox gaming chief Phil Spencer acknowledged during a presentation at XO18 that the Microsoft Store still has a ways to go to become a solid platform for PC gamers. Thankfully, it sounds like Microsoft is taking fan criticism to heart, promising to make improvements to the experience (via The Verge).

“Windows is something I’m very committed to. I’ve heard the feedback about our Store. I’m going to take a bigger leadership role on what’s going on with the Windows Store, make it really tailored to the gamers that we know want to see the best from what we have to offer,” Spencer said.

While Windows 10 is the premier operating system for PC gaming, Microsoft’s own store and client have struggled to keep up with other gaming platforms on PC, namely Steam. As it stands, the process for downloading and playing games through the Microsoft Store is often riddled with bugs, errors, and weird restrictions.

If you’ve ever downloaded a game from the Microsoft Store, there’s a good chance you’ve received a confounding error message or a failed install. The one-click download, which is supposed to make things easy, often isn’t as seamless as Microsoft would probably like it to be.

Sea of Thieves

Some games downloaded from the Microsoft Store don’t support overlays for popular platforms like Discord and certain Nvidia customization options, and you’ll often run into strange bugs while playing games through Microsoft’s client.

While the vast majority of PC games are available on Steam and other more reliable clients, the Microsoft Store is often your only option for first-party titles such as Sea of Thieves, Forza Horizon 4, and Gears of War 4. Microsoft’s Play Anywhere initiative has been great for combining the Xbox and Windows communities, but at this point, most PC gamers would probably like the option to purchase all of Microsoft’s games through Steam.

It doesn’t help that the store, which fashions itself as a one-stop shop for all your gaming needs, doesn’t feel particularly intuitive. Earlier this year, Microsoft said it was working on a better version of the Xbox app for PC users. While Xbox One users are used to seeing automatic game updates, it doesn’t work the same way on PC. Since game updates go through the Microsoft Store, games aren’t updated each time you turn on your PC, as they would be when powering on your Xbox. Technically, game updates through the Xbox app on PC are supposed to happen automatically, but this doesn’t always happen.

As Spencer said, Microsoft has “a ton of work to do with Windows.” It’s the default destination for playing PC games already. If the Microsoft Store sees improvements targeted at gaming, it could perhaps be a more viable Steam competitor.

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