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Windows 8's hidden dangers to game developers

If you want to release PC games through Windows 8's official store, you will need to follow Microsoft rules -- but many of those rules make it impossible to put out big titles like Skyrim in their current form.
The Metro interface in Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 will, for the first time, close itself off from many developers, locking submissions behind an approval process akin to Apple's App Store. Some of its rules are prohibitive, and many games that would otherwise thrive on Microsoft's open Windows platform will never be given a chance. Thankfully, Windows 8 offers a "desktop mode," which lets users switch to old-style Windows and run whatever code they want. As long as that mode remains, we're all safe? Right? Not so fast, says game industry veteran Casey Muratori in Gamasutra's latest feature. Looking back through history, he predicts that PC developers will eventually abandon the classic Windows desktop for Windows 8's modern UI and store, just as they abandoned MS-DOS for Windows to take advantage of graphics hardware innovations. In a future dominated by Windows Store-only distribution, where all applications must meet Microsoft's certification requirements, though, many of the highest-profile games we see today wouldn't receive approval for release. Skyrim, for instance, would be denied certification. "This is not speculative; it is certain," says Muratori. "Skyrim is a game for adults. It has a PEGI rating of 18." Windows 8's app certification requirements prohibit games with adult content and ratings higher than PEGI 16/ESRB Mature. "That's the end of it. No Skyrim for the Windows Store, unless of course the developers go back and remove all the PEGI 18-rated content," adds Muratori. That restriction would also rule out games like Mass Effect 3, Assassin's Creed 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and Borderlands 2 from releasing on Windows Store. Muratori talked more in-depth about what Windows 8's closed distribution means for developers and how it stifles software innovation in Gamasutra's newest feature.

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