Xbox's vision for a cross-platform future

Microsoft plans to create a single, unified platform for game developers with the forthcoming launch of Windows 10, which will have Xbox Live integration to allow for cross-play across devices.

Windows 10, Microsoft’s forthcoming operating system will deliver a “unified platform for video games across the full spectrum of devices,” according to Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, speaking at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco this morning. “This is the first time that all of Xbox’s efforts will show up with a single unified voice and vision for what we want to do in the games industry,” he said.

Spencer explained that Microsoft’s current efforts have been focused on allowing people to play the games that they own wherever they are, and on every device. "Today the worlds of home consoles, mobile and so on are segmented,” he said. “We want to unify by allowing people to play their games on any device that hey own. If you want to play on your laptop, or desktop rig, we want to enable that across all Windows devices, including the Xbox.”

“Gaming was once central to what we did on Windows, but we’ve lost our way,” Spencer admitted. “My hope is that the next Windows release will be the best ever for gamers, offering a single gaming social network, operating system, application player and store across all Windows devices.”

Toward this end Microsoft will be incorporating the Xbox Live SDK into Windows 10, allowing developers to connect players of their game across devices. “We think it's critical that these user-bases stay connected, regardless of the device they’re playing on,” he said. “Ensuring Xbox live is accessible to all games, regardless of their scope and size, is crucial.”

Microsoft used the opportunity to talk about how its [email protected], which aims to enable qualified developers to self-publish digital games on Xbox One, will now provide support for implementing cross-play between PC players and other devices. “We want to make it so it’s incredibly simple to deliver a single game that runs across multiple devices,” said Spencer. “The idea is that the core mechanics of what you’re building can be deployed easily – even if the inputs might need to be tailored.”

“The excitement that we’ve seen from independent developers has been tremendous,” Spencer said. “Developers that had maybe looked at the console ecosystem and decided it wasn’t right for them, will now be able to incorporate console into their PC title plans.” Spencer revealed that Microsoft will enable Xbox One controllers to work on Windows PC via a wireless adapter that will be launched later this year to help smooth the experience, in particular between the console and desktop.

Spencer also took a moment to comment on the current state of the industry, as evidenced by his perception of GDC in 2015. “The memes of this event for the past five or six years have been about finding the best way to monetize video games. Something that strikes me this year is that you see successful games across various business models. You see success in download-to-own, at retail, in free-to-play and mobile remains as strong as ever. The diversity of business models is a real strength. As we think about our vision for gaming we’re trying to embrace that flexibility.”

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