Microsoft’s new approach opens PC gaming up to Steam and additional support for Win32 games

Kareem Anderson

Just ahead of E3 2019, Microsoft is yet again popping the spigot on gaming news and unveiling an evolved approach to PC gaming in the coming months and years.

In a new post titled Our Approach to PC Gaming, head of Xbox Phil Spencer pens a rather detailed announcement about the future of cross-platform and cross-network play that gamers can expect to see down the road as either an Xbox Live or even Steam account holder.

That’s right, Microsoft plans to, “make its Xbox Game Studio PC games available in multiple stores,” including the Microsoft Store on Windows, as well as on Steam and available to others in the near future.

Obviously, there is the exclusivity window that will need to be addressed with new and unreleased titles, but Microsoft currently plans to make Gears 5, all Age of Empires, and 20 more undisclosed titles readily available in the Steam store soon.

We want to bring players together to create a shared player community regardless of where they play, so it’s our intent that new Xbox Game Studios titles include features such as voice and text chat, LFG, friends lists and cross-play across PC and console. On Windows 10 you’ll find this functionality in the Xbox Game Bar, which we’ll continue to evolve and expand.

Surprisingly, bringing Microsoft titles to other Stores isn’t even the biggest news of the day as Spencer continues on in his post to announce that Win32 games will now be supported in the Microsoft Store on Windows.

After some hub-bub about the perceived death of Microsoft’s UWP development platform, it’s becoming clearer that instead of simply shedding the development work for the Universal Windows Platform the company is instead loosening the restrictions on its sandboxed approach.

We recognize that Win32 is the app format that game developers love to use and gamers love to play, so we are excited to share that we will be enabling full support for native Win32 games to the Microsoft Store on Windows. This will unlock more options for developers and gamers alike, allowing for the customization and control they’ve come to expect from the open Windows gaming ecosystem.

Spencer glossed over the implementation details of this new approach but I’m sure the Xbox team will cover those in the coming months. For now, it’s a healthy sign that Microsoft remains committed to ensuring the Windows platform is the go-to platform for gaming and that in the future  that Microsoft gaming expands beyond just Windows and Xbox consoles.