Microsoft announces its PC gaming plans ahead of E3

Microsoft really wants gamers to play their games on a PC running Windows 10. The company wants it so badly that it's made two PC gaming-focused announcements that are seemingly at odds with one another. Xbox chief Phil Spencer's blog post is kind of all over the place, so let's try to follow along. 

For those of us who don't own an Xbox and maybe haven't been paying attention, Game Pass is a gaming subscription that Microsoft announced two years ago for the Xbox One. In exchange for $10 per month, gamers can choose from 100 or so Xbox games and play them to their heart's content. Alongside that, subscribers that want to own games permanently can do so at a discount. That's handy because Microsoft tends to rotate the games available on the service.

Now Microsoft is bringing that same subscription download + discount package to Windows. Xbox chief Phil Spencer says that like its Xbox counterpart, Xbox Game Pass for PC (eww, branding) will give gamers access to more than 100 game downloads from both Microsoft's own internal studios and third party publishers. The same discounts that appear in the Xbox version are also available for the PC. What isn't clear from this announcement is whether cross-platform gamers would have to subscribe to the service on each platform separately. That would be a real downer, so we hope that's not the case. 

If you're hungry, here's a big dish of buzzwords: according to Spencer, Microsoft has a responsibility to make sure its decisions benefit players everywhere by embracing the openness of the platform—something he admits that Microsoft hasn't always done in the past. That's code, we think, for Steam. Despite numerous salvos fired by the Epic Game Store, Steam is still the top PC game store around, and Microsoft wants to be a part. Back in March, Microsoft announced that Halo: The Master Chief Collection would come to Valve's storefront. Spencer now says to expect twenty games to hit Steam, starting with Gears of War 5 and a collection of Age of Empires titles. 

Windows on Steam (dramatization)

Lastly, the company is relaxing some of its restrictions on submissions to the Microsoft Game Store. Up until now, games submitted to Microsoft's online shop needed to be written to the Windows 10-specific UWP APIs. That requirement is going away. Spencer says Win32 apps will be welcome. Whether it draws developers to Microsoft's store remains to be seen.

That's not all Microsoft has to show, apparently. The company will host its E3 extravaganza on Sunday night, June 9. We'll be watching to see what else the company has in store, and looking for additional details surrounding what's already been announced.

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