Over the last couple of months, Microsoft has made significant efforts to bring PC gamers and Xbox gamers closer together. On Windows 10, the Xbox app has become a true gaming hub that all PC gamers can use to share gameplay videos, follow game hubs and chat with their friends. Then, in the fall, Microsoft launched the first Xbox Play Anywhere titles on the Windows Store, allowing consumers to purchase a game once and play them on both their Xbox One and Windows 10 PC and enabling cross-platform multiplayer experiences along the way.
The upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update is also expected to bring new features for gamers, such as integrated Beam video game streaming as well a new “Game mode” that is expected to bring performance improvements during gaming sessions.
However, it looks like Game Mode won’t be a Windows 10 PC exclusive feature, as Windows Central is reporting today that the feature may already be enabled in some form on the Xbox One. More importantly, it looks like supporting Game Mode could be a requirement for game developers wanting to ship games built for the Universal Windows Platform (UWP) on Windows 10, the Xbox One, and Project Scorpio.
According to the report, Game Mode first shipped on Xbox One dev kits in the summer and received additional updates in the following months:
Game Mode, it appears, is a feature that streamlines variations between Xbox consoles and PCs, making sure as many Windows 10 systems as possible can run games to the standards set by the Xbox One and Project Scorpio. Microsoft describes those “target” standards as 900p to 1080p resolution for Xbox One and 4K resolution with 60 frames per second for Project Scorpio, and we’ve received evidence to suggest that the Xbox One already utilizes Game Mode to achieve its targets.
A couple of weeks ago, a previous report from Windows Central also revealed that Microsoft was looking to streamline game development on both Xbox and PC platforms with Project Scorpio dev kits. For developers, this means that UWP developed Project Scorpio games would be able to run on Windows 10 PCs, the Xbox One and Project Scorpio with just a minimum amount of changes. But now, our colleagues learned that all games built for the Universal Windows Platform would actually need to support Game Mode as well:
Our information implies that games developed for the Windows 10, Xbox One, and Project Scorpio ecosystem need to be “Game Mode enabled” Universal Windows Apps (UWA).
This means that developers using Game Mode enabled UWP today to build games for Xbox One at 900-1080p and up to 4K for Windows 10 PCs are ready to deploy those games for Project Scorpio, with over 95% of the existing project code intact. This could explain why we’re already seeing major players jump on the UWA-train, with Resident Evil 7 set for a Windows 10 Store debut on January 24th, 2017.
Overall, it seems that Microsoft is doing the right thing to push more developers to release their Xbox One games on the Windows 10 Store. However, these UWP games are not required to be Xbox Play Anywhere titles, which means that benefits for consumers won’t necessarily be meaningful. Lastly, it’s still not clear if Game Mode enabled UWP games will bring real performance improvements to PC gamers.