Microsoft says it wants to further blend PC and Xbox One, hints at console hardware upgrades

Xbox boss Phil Spencer has confirmed that Microsoft’s games strategy is to blend its Xbox and PC operations into a single gaming ecosystem.

Recent announcements such as the PC version of Quantum Break and, just today, Forza Motorsport 6: Apex, have angered some of the Xbox userbase, who feel that their system is being devalued.

Microsoft, however, has argued that its strategy is focused purely on bringing its content to a wider audience and does not jeopardise the future of the Xbox ecosystem. Getting developers to build for both Xbox and PC using the same Universal Windows Application (UWA) framework, The Guardian reports, is a central part of the strategy.

That is our focus going forward,” Phil Spencer said. Building out a complete gaming ecosystem for Universal Windows Applications. In other [consumer technology] ecosystems you get more continuous innovation in hardware that you rarely see in consoles because consoles lock the hardware and software platforms together at the beginning and they ride the generation out for seven years or so.

We’re allowing ourselves to decouple our software platform from the hardware platform on which it runs. We’ll see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation and allow the same games to run backwards and forward compatible because we have UWAs running on top of UWP. It allows us to focus on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.”

Polygon‘s report on the matter suggests a more radical approach to Xbox game development, with Spencer even mentioning forward compatibility for older consoles and hinting at the possibility of hardware upgrades.

"You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform," he explained.

"We can effectively feel a little bit more like we see on PC, where I can still go back and run my old Doom and Quake games that I used to play years ago but I can still see the best 4K games come out and my library is always with me. Hardware innovation continues while the software innovation is able to take advantage and I don’t have to jump a generation and lose everything that I played on before."

While this could have possible implications for hardware lifecycles, Spencer was as always keen to stress that this does not – in his opinion – represent a shift away from Xbox and toward PC.

Everything we do on any device is being driven by the Xbox team, and that team is 100% committed to success on every platform gamers want to play on,” Spencer added. The gamer is at the centre of every decision we make.”

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