The Game Stash

The Game Stash
Game Stash: Microsoft’s Missed Opportunity

Steve Butts | 11 Aug 2010 17:11
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The lack of software support is just as galling. Just take a look at Microsoft's PC output since 2005, during which the company has produced no new IPs for the PC. Its only potential winner was Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, but Sigil eventually decided to sell it to SOE instead. That just leaves four PC exclusives over the last five years, all of which were sequels. Dungeon Siege, Age of Empires and Flight Simulator saw new installments. Only Big Huge Games offered anything substantially original by reworking its Rise of Nations into the unfortunately- neglected Rise of Legends. Toss in half a dozen expansions (mostly for Zoo Tycoon 2), year-old ports for Xbox 360 hits like Gears of War and Fable, and a nearly three-year-old port of Halo 2, and that's the extent of what Microsoft has offered to PC gamers over the last six years.

And the saddest part of all this is that it all happened before 2007. The only PC-related action we've seen from Microsoft since November of 2007 is the release of Tinker. Well, that and the closure of Age of Empires developer Ensemble Studios and Flight Sim developer ACES, who followed FASA and Digital Anvil into the abyss.

For nearly three years, Microsoft Game Studios has made promises but done nothing to assure PC gamers that it intends to support PC gaming. In the meantime, companies like EA, 2K, Ubisoft and Activision have delivered several new high-profile IPs. New hits like Spore, Crysis, World in Conflict and the continued success of the Warcraft and Civilization brands show that committed companies can make, market and monetize properties exclusively on for the PC. There's no shortage of opportunity for Microsoft but, with Cataclysm, Diablo, The Old Republic, Civilization V and SOE's online offerings set to be released in the near future, Microsoft will find itself frantically playing catch-up as it tries to make good on the promises it has been making, and ignoring, for the last few years.

So what should Microsoft do? Would I be happy if the company at least stopped making promises it wasn't going to keep? Well, that's second best for me. What I'd love to see is Microsoft reclaim its position as a top tier first-party developer and publisher of quality games on the platform that it already dominates in the productivity market. The PC I'm using, and the very program I'm using to type this, is chockfull of productivity software that's so well marketed and designed that no other developer has much of a chance to grab my attention. Let's see Microsoft do the same in the videogame space again.

Just don't make me any promises about it.

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