Sweeney: We must fight Microsoft’s attempt to monopolise PC gaming

Ben Parfitt
Sweeney: We must fight Microsoft’s attempt to monopolise PC gaming

Epic founder Tim Sweeney has severely criticised what he sees at Microsoft's attempt to take control of the PC games market via its new Universal Windows Platform (UWP) standard.

Windows 10 apps and games – including the upcoming Quantum Break and Forza 6: Apex, and recent release Gears of War – do not use the regular win32 API (games that launch via a standard .exe). Instead, they rely on a framework of code tightly controlled by Microsoft and not compatible with non-Windows 10 systems.

Microsoft has built a closed platform-within-a-platform into Windows 10, as the first apparent step towards locking down the consumer PC ecosystem and monopolising app distribution and commerce,” Sweeney said on The Guardian.

In my view, this is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made. [It] is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers (and gamers in particular), software developers such as Epic Games, publishers like EA and Activision, and distributors like Valve and Good Old Games.”

Sweeney believes that Windows 10 is built to give its own Windows Store an advantage, to the disadvantage of those who wish to sell their games and software freely outside that system, as has been the way for decades.

What is required, he argues, is for Microsoft to open up UWP applications so they can be freely installed like any other .exe. It must also allow for anyone to sell UWP format software direct to users and outside of Microsoft's own channels, through which it takes a 30 per cent cut.

Should this not happen Sweeny believes the ultimate danger is that Microsoft continues to refine UWP while allowing win32 to die. Should this not happen, UWP can, should, must and will, die as a result of industry backlash”.

Added the developer:

Microsoft's situation, however, is an embarrassment. Seven months after the launch of Windows Store alongside Windows 10, the place remains devoid of the top third-party games and signature applications that define the PC experience. Where's Photoshop? Grand Theft Auto V? Fifa 2016? There are some PC ports of what were great mobile games, and some weirder things, such as the Windows 10 port of the Android port of the PC version of Grand Theft Auto from 2004.

This day has been approaching for over than 18 months, and I need to give credit to Microsoft folks, especially Phil Spencer, for always being willing to listen to Epic's concerns with UWP's paradigm, and to proposed solutions. Because they listened very patiently, I hoped and believed that Microsoft would do the right thing, but here we are. Microsoft's consumer launch and PR around UWP are in full swing, and this side of the story must be told.

Microsoft's intentions must be judged by Microsoft's actions, not Microsoft's words. Their actions speak plainly enough: they are working to turn today's open PC ecosystem into a closed, Microsoft-controlled distribution and commerce monopoly, over time, in a series of steps of which we're seeing the very first.”

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