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Microsoft could be preparing for Xbox games to run natively on PC

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The Xbox One has not quite been as successful as Microsoft had hoped. Curious decisions aw the Xbox eating PlayStation dust for the bulk of the generation, but it’s something that Microsoft has actively been making amends for. There’s some exceptional forward thinking in effect at Microsoft, as the company hopes to start the next generation on a better footing.

By all accounts, Microsoft will kick the next generation off with two consoles: a less powerful system to replace the Xbox One S, with a focus on a streaming; and a more powerful machine to succeed the Xbox One X. More importantly, there’s Game Pass, the company’s subscription service that gives day one access to all of its first party games, along with hundreds of other games for a low monthly fee. It’s undeniable value, even taking the sting out of middling games like Crackdown 3. With Microsoft on such a studio purchasing frenzy, there’s likely to be a wealth of first party content coming in the future. Those games are also available to play on Windows PCs, showing the company has a focus on PC gaming too. That focus might be bigger than anticipated.

According to Thurrot’s Brad Sams, Microsoft might be bringing the Xbox platform to PC, natively. Earlier this year, Microsoft made Xbox game State of Decay available to windows Insiders. Instead of a PC port though, it appears to be the Xbox version and not a new Play anywhere port.

“What it looks like Microsoft is doing, instead of porting each Xbox feature back to the PC one by one, they are simply dumping the entire Xbox one installation/servicing plumbing and making it the primary installation for Windows.”

The installation happens outside of the maligned windows 10 store, and installs a few interesting drivers that suggest it’s using the Xbox One’s filesystem, and storage API.

There are several possible ramifications here. The most likely is that Microsoft is allowing developers to create a single binary package that targets both Xbox and PC, meaning easier and more optimised delivery of games. It also likely points to a unification of Xbox core services across console and PC. The other, terribly exciting possibility is that it could mean that Xbox One games – and not just the first party stuff – could run on PC in the future.

Says Sams:

“While it certainly looks like developers will be able to use a single binary package to target and Xbox and PC, I believe the larger ambition is to make the gaming experience the same on both PC and Xbox.

If Microsoft can make this a reality with performance being top notch on both platforms, it means the addressable market for Xbox and PC gamers is going to be the same which makes it a much more lucrative target than other platforms.”

It’s an exciting prospect, especially if Microsoft is able to use black magic to bring Xbox 360 and OG Xbox backwards compatibility along with that.

Last Updated: February 26, 2019

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