Interesting rumblings are afoot in the latest Insider build of Windows 10, according to Brad Sams of reputed Windows-focused site Thurrott.
As stated by Sams, Windows 10 build 18334 introduces a new technology that essentially allows for the dumping of entire Xbox game assets to the Windows Store that can then run as PC games.
The original State of Decay was the testbed for this. Microsoft gave out free copies of the game to test the new technology. It turns out that rather than downloading the game from the Microsoft Store server, it downloads it directly from assets1.xboxlive.com as a ‘.xvc’ Xbox game file.
What this essentially means is that rather than building a version of the game for both Xbox One and PC, Microsoft is creating a single Xbox One package that can then be dumped onto PC. Now, this probably isn’t what you want to hear if you want a dedicated PC version of a game with all the proper support, but it would be a quick and dirty way for developers to get their games on two platforms with the minimum of fuss.
All of it ties into Microsoft’s recent claims it was looking to officially bring Xbox Game Pass to PC. You can buy and play games through Xbox Game Pass on PC but this is restricted to the small number of Xbox Play Anywhere titles, the majority of which are first-party. Xbox Game Pass currently provides around 200 games for a monthly subscription, and only about a dozen are playable on PC.
Using this new tech, Microsoft could theoretically dump the entire Xbox Game Pass library onto PC, offering a library of hundreds of games to play. The vast majority of these would already be playable through Steam or other methods but Xbox Game Pass subscriptions can be picked up dirt cheap if you shop around.
This all speaks to Microsoft’s grander plan to provide an umbrella of software-based gaming support rather than sticking to console hardware. It wants its subscription library of games in as many places as possible, and it wants to ensure it’s as easy as possible for developers to make this happen. It hooks up with the recent reports that Xbox Game Pass is coming to the Nintendo Switch via xCloud streaming. Microsoft wants to get its tendrils onto every device. The hardware doesn’t matter, it’s the subscribers that count.
The obvious downside to this is that lowering the barrier to bringing games to PC could also lower the effort put into a dedicated PC version. A one-click import of the Xbox One version of a game is serviceable enough, but it's not the sort of treatment PC gamers would like to see every game take. The worry is that Microsoft is aiming for visual and performance parity between the Xbox and PC versions of a game, something that feels like a no-go if this is to succeed.
Do let us know what your thoughts are on this below! Would you be willing to sub to Xbox Game Pass if all the games were playable on PC? Share your thoughts below!