The co-founder of Epic Games has lambasted Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform for its attempted ‘monopolisation’ of game distribution on PC.
Writing in a lengthy op-ed on The Guardian, Tim Sweeney blasted the initative, which uses the Windows Store to allow games and apps to run across Windows 10 as well as its mobile iteration and Xbox One, as an ‘embarrassment’ and ‘fiasco’.
“This is the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made,” he argues, arguing that “Microsoft is moving against the entire PC industry – including consumers, software developers, publishers and distributors”.
Sweeney clarifies his view that, by limiting access and subsequent alteration (such as through updates) to games to just the Windows Store, Microsoft is working to monopolise the PC market.
“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,” he explains.
“Unless Microsoft changes course, all of the independent companies comprising the PC ecosystem have a decision to make: to oppose this, or cede control of their existing customer relationships and commerce to Microsoft’s exclusive control.”
By default, games launched through the UWP cannot be downloaded through third-party websites or stores. This can be enabled by looking into the settings in the platform’s UI, admits Sweeney, but retorts that its denial by default means that “Microsoft is unfairly disadvantaging the competition”.
He concludes that a withdrawal of support for UWP by devs would result in the death of the programme – which is perhaps a necessary sacrifice.
“If UWP is to gain the support of major PC game and application developers, it must be as open a platform as today’s predominant win32 API, which is used by all major PC games and applications,” Sweeney states.
“If Microsoft does not commit to opening PC UWP up, then PC UWP can, should, must and will die as a result of industry backlash. Gamers, developers, publishers simply cannot trust the PC UWP ‘platform’ so long as Microsoft gives evasive, ambiguous and sneaky answers to questions about UWP’s future.”
Responding to Sweeney’s column, Kevin Gallo, corporate VP of Windows for Microsoft, told The Guardian (via NeoGAF): “The Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, that can be supported by any store. We continue to make improvements for developers; for example, in the Windows 10 November Update, we enabled people to easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required.