Why Microsoft is screwing up gaming on their platform

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From the Asset Store
The complete source file for my Youtube platformer game tutorial series.
  • I originally posted this on my blog. I figured I would copy and paste the article here though. I wanted to know what this community though of this. What is everyone's thoughts and feelings about this? Why do the devs here target or not target Windows?

    Windows 8 has a pretty cool interface. I’ll admit it, I’m in that camp. I like the Metro interface. It has some pretty cool uses, like app organization. I can also organize my games. That’s cool. Windows is a great platform for all sorts of games. The Xbox remote just works on it. It’s plug and play. With Windows 8, I get access to all sorts of great games. I can play big triple A games or the small and casual ones from the app store. The leverage of the Windows 8 store and the traditional environment is pretty cool for those sorts of things. I have to ask myself though, why the hell doesn’t Microsoft push this? Why isn’t it marketed.

    Let me lay this out. The Surface has the capabilities to be one of the best mobile gaming experiences, ever. It has a full size USB port. The Xbox remote works on it. The user interface is pretty cool on touch. It has a betterish store than it once had. The Surface also has this really cool built in kick stand. A lot of really nice game making tools exist, like Construct 2 and Unity. Both support the Xbox remote and Windows 8. Both are aren’t that hard to use. Both are really, really cheap (Unity is free to a certain extent and a license for Construct 2 is only $120 USD).

    Let’s not forget the Microsoft dev suits either. They’re pretty awesome. After playing with Visual Studio, Eclipse, Netbeans, DrJava, JetBrains, and some of the JS stuff built around eclipse, Visual Studio is by far my favorite. It’s clean, organized, and really comfortable to use. The only IDE I’ve played with that comes close is Construct 2 (which is a really, really close second).

    Let’s combine this with the fact that there are a lot of indie game devs out there. There are those that are looking to make a name for themselves. Others want a piece of the pie. Some devs just want to make games because they like to. The market to attract these people is huge. The barrier to entry on Windows is also insanely low. Anyone person with a PC can do it.

    I have to ask myself then, why isn’t Microsoft pushing this? I don’t see any reps putting these pieces together on the forums. I don’t see commercials for this. Most people I know don’t even know the Xbox remote can be used on a surface, much less a PC. This is such a huge competitive advantage and Microsoft is like, “Nope, ain’t gonna open my mouth.”


  • what is it that you think they are not pushing? games in general? my experience has been fairly bleak with the games I've published, but the games i published were buggy / underperforming ports from GameSalad. I also really didn't (and honestly still don't) have any real insight into how to market Win8 or WP8 games.

    I think MS could do more, but i think they are doing what is reasonable. It's not their job to market games. it's the developer. they have their top games and give popular apps exposure. They could step up the store to be more like Apple and various Android markets allowing showcases, app of the day, etc.

    As for why these tablets don't do better.. I do think that while win8 has made an effort to bridge the gap between a pc and tablet... the UX is still not there. My wife has my Samsung Slate which is an i5 CPU and runs Win8.1 She uses it for facebook, web and email... and simply put, not everything is really well designed for touch.. sure its possible, but its awkward..

    I'm not saying this is an easy problem to solve, but until they get it right, people are not going to be giving up their iPads and Android tablets that understand that touch UX must be frustration-free. Once, MS does this, I think they will be on to something. The fact that no one else has tried only reinforces that this is not an easy undertaking.

  • I would have to politely disagree. The Metro interface is a good touch interface. The information is easy to see with robust and large icons and the touch targets are large. The charms bar is intuitive after you know it exists. That's the biggest issue with the Metro environment, some things, like the charms bar, are hidden.

    I don't expect Microsoft to market individual games. You are correct in that case; it's the developers job to market the individual game. Microsoft, on the other hand, should be marketing the platform. They do now, but do it poorly. I use the Xbox remote as an example. Very few consumers know that the controller can be plugged into a normal X86 processor driven computer, much less a Windows RT Surface tablet. The ability to use that controller offers a tactile and superior control scheme for many game genres, such as adventure game for example. Combine the use of that controller with the kickstand and the end user has a fantastic mobile gaming experience.

    Now, I only use that as an example. There are other example, such as more intuitive organizational schemes through the Metro interface compared to iOS. I don't see Microsoft touting these kinds of examples in their marketing nor providing training sales reps. That is my primary point.

  • Well I for one was hoping to publish an app in their market until I hit the wall of 'you have to have Windows 8' to develop for mobile/desktop. My computer is 6 years old and I really don't see a purpose of putting a new os on a dirt old computer. (Yes i plan to upgrade eventually nit in the cards right now) So the question is how many developers have been knocked out by that clause. Mind you I am only one os down Win 7 so I was packaging for deployment when I discovered it. So I change my distribution list to android amazon and blackberry. I was going to buy my roommates win phone cause he was getting rid of it cause he said the lack of apps.

    I can't speak for the reason they have it setup that way but android is Linux based and it doesn't require me to have Linux to be able to publish to it. I don'teven need a Linux is to publish to Linux. So for indie devs as you see a few here is still on xp is and make some awesome stuff but unless they go through someone else they won'tbe packaging it for Win 8

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  • PhoenixNightly if you can run win7 on your computer win8 will should run ok.. to be honest in my experience with win8 with parallels, It runs a hell of a lot better with less ram than win7 did... keep in mind that win8 is actually designed to run on devices (RT tablets for example) that actually are not far off from your pc's speed because they are arm based and battery conscious forcing them to draw less power than your desktop.

    I would give it a shot (heck of a lot cheaper than a new computer). $40 for upgrade unless the price has changed.. worse case you try, you have a license for your next pc that does run it ok.

    and I agree mepis i didn't know about the xbox controller till i read it from you.. of course i don't own an xbox, but that's beside the point.. everyone should know this stuff if it is going to be of any value. MS is advertising pretty good, but i'm not sure it's really helping developers any.

  • Win8 is an attempted hybrid. You might like it on your mobile, but probably 95-98% of those who've used it on PCs hate it..., no actually loath it. Win8 is providing the perfect environment for another major player to come in and challenge MS's operating system for PC.

    Why doesn't Microsoft support the gaming side?

    Why doesn't Microsoft properly support PC machines with their OS? Why are they attempting to make PCs into oversized mobiles? Why aren't they listening to the consumers who don't want this?

    Why? Because Microsoft is dominant, and knows best, and you have to get into line with what Microsoft wants. Mircosoft is Macrohard, and their eardrums are granite. This is why.

  • part12studios

    I was looking for the price of upgrading from win7 but their site is so off..the only upgrade they show is for vista and xp :/ and those are 120...I think I would wait..

    Very much true. But what corporations do listen to is money falling out of their pockets. So word is Microsoft is working fast to make Windows 9 and have a beta out sometime later this year and release sometime next year. Which means it would be a rush job which I have no interest in. Corporations big-headedness at times get the best of them. Like Apple for some reason is planning on opening an Android Store...when you say it.. it sounds quite stupid but the reason is Android has a majority of the mobile market. So Apple wants to be apart of the money that is there. Like a googleChrome book I have no interest in getting because none of my software would work on it so even though it might be good but they should have some way of running windows based software.

  • PhoenixNightly

    A side note not related to my OP, Microsoft is rumored to release Windows 9 at the end of this year/early next year. It won't be a rush job though. When Balmer did the re-org, part of that was putting the Windows team on a shorter and faster release cycle. So, instead of releasing patches throughout a few years and major updates only every few years, they would add iterative features. Windows 8, or Threshold I believe it's code named, will not be a big update to Windows 8.1, such as Windows 8.1 wasn't a huge update to Windows 8. It's rumored they are adding back a full start menu, not just a start button. They want to move away from the name Windows 8 because of the bad press, hence Windows 9. In reality, it'll be closer to a Windows 8.2ish type of release.

    Personally, I can;t blame them. The market has had a feeding frenzy wanting a full start menu back. Granted, it's taken Microsoft some time, but they listened. I think they tried to push to big of a UI change to quickly. Even the UI change from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95 wasn't this dramatic. The UI change from 9X to Windows XP, then to Vista, and then to 7 was even much less so. They forgot they needed to iterate on the UI a lot slower then they did. But digressing, even if they did bring back the start menu, it would be buried in the bad press of WIndows 8. I think it's a smart move to rename it to Windows 9. At least it will give the general consumer perception a clean start. It's also rumored that the upgrade flow from Windows 8 to Windows 9 will be free so those that bought into Windows 8 won't be screwed.

    Now I digress back to points on my original OP.

    I'll have to investigate the Windows 8 OS requirements to publish to Windows 8. It was my understanding that developers only needed VS 2012 or VS 2013 to develop for Windows 8. This is the first time I'm hearing of that. If it's true, then that's crappy. It;s one of the reasons I haven't bothered to start looking at objective C and the iOS platform yet; I don't have the money for a Mac.

  • mepis

    That is what I thought to until I was following Ashley tutorial and I misinterpreted when he said 'you need Windows 8' I was thinking Windows 8 SDK. The VS 2012 they referring to that is built specially for Win8. But if you can shed more light cause when I googled I could only get a few places to confirm. But on windows tutorial site it does say you have to have Windows 8 and if you want to use the emulator Win8 Pro or something like that.


    Here it is from Microsoft site themselves the version you need won't even install on any OS only 8


    Now Crosswalk is suppose to export to Windows for you. I will test that out

  • yea i don't care what they call the next version of windows.. what i don't want to see is 1. them trying to charge for another OS.. and 2. do anything to bloat performance.. i run bootcamp but i'm also using parallels at times. I appreciate win8 running better than win7 did in my experience.

    Yes you absolutely need to have windows 8 if you want to develop for windows 8 or windows phone 8.. the crosswalk bypass might be good, but i suspect you're going to be taking a performance hit.

    Something I learned that was interesting about windows 8 and C2 from our local Microsoft evangelist who teaches unity and c2 is that the win8 projects compile at a lower level than your traditional "wrapper" approach like crosswalk. Unfortunately for WP8, most HTML5/JS based projects ultimately are running through the IE browser (stripped to just full screen, but still not as efficient).

    If you want to develop for windows 8.1 features you must have 2013.. 2012 is for win8..

  • Well, that's good to know and slightly disappointing. The cost barrier isn't high upgrading to Windows 8, but it's also a head ache if you're anal like I am. When do full OS upgrades I prefer to do a full wipe. The upgrade flow from Windows 8 to 8.1 essentially does this so I;m pretty cool with that. But digressing, I can understand PhoenixNightly opinion of not wanting to upgrade. Some people may not have the money to spend. Others may be waiting to buy a new PC. Whatever the case, Microsoft is limiting developer support by doing this. I suppose that is a debate for another thread though and outside the scope of this one. As a tip though, most colleges have a partnership with Microsoft. If a student is in school for a computer something degree (Eg. Computer science, Computer information systems, It administration, etc...), that student will almost certainly have access to a free dreamspark account. I got VS studio 2013 pro and a second copy of Windows 8 for free this way. Also, if I remember right, students irregardless can get a free dreamspark and dev account if they sign up with a school email account. It's been a few years since I've looked at that so that may not be the case anymore.

  • Like a googleChrome book I have no interest in getting because none of my software would work on it so even though it might be good but they should have some way of running windows based software.

    Chromebooks isn't a full PC. Basically, all it was designed to do is web browsing, and a few simple word docs. Chrome really does fail here.

  • Visual Studio 2013 supports the Phone projects out of the box with no need to install the phone specific visual studio build.

    HTML5 games on Windows 8/8.1 DO NOT support the game pad. Internet explorer does not support the GamePad API and it is the underlying engine for rendering HTML5 games on Windows 8/8.1. They are pushing Touchscreen as opposed to controller. I have spoken to some of the Evangelists for HTML5 and that is the focus on windows 8 for games is touch integration. Unless someone has some clever plugin to get the GamePad API to work in IE, then you are pretty much hosed there.

    On another bright note though, Windows Phone 8.1 will finally support WebGL so at least WP8 games will now be more realistic.

    And to the points of "Why do I need to use windows 8 to develop for windows 8?"... that is a very lazy approach. If you want to develop for a platform you need to be able to test and debug and test some more on that platform.

    Telling Microsoft not to charge for their OS is like telling Chevron not to Charge you for Gas, or Baskin Robbins not to charge you for Ice Cream...

  • Also a GREAT resource for anyone with a startup (LLC, S-Corp, etc...) can sign up to be part of Microsoft's BizSpark program. This is what I did. They give you all their products for free for 3 years so you can write apps, etc... they also provide a lot of other benefits like connecting you with investors, etc.... I definitely recommend it: http://www.BizSpark.com

    This also includes covering the cost of the windows 8 and windows phone store memberships and gives you all their development tools, OS, etc...

  • Aurora Australis

    Yes disappointing when I first heard I thought of an actual computer for production


    Well I have just been given the memo that my dear computer is on its final legs...so fate is twisting my arm.


    Great share!! The I will check out when I get a chance.

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