PC Gamer

Microsoft is bringing more games to Steam, says 'We believe you should have choice in where you buy your PC games'

Wes Fenlon
 

In a big move for its approach to PC gaming, Microsoft has announced that it's planning to bring more Xbox Game Studios games to Steam, freeing them from the confines of the Microsoft Store. That store itself isn't dead and gone—it's part of Microsoft's plans for bringing the Xbox Game Pass subscription service to PC, which it also announced today. But it will no longer be the only way to play those first-party games on PC.

"Our intent is to make our Xbox Game Studios PC games available in multiple stores, including our own Microsoft Store on Windows, at their launch.  We believe you should have choice in where you buy your PC games," writes Xbox head Phil Spencer. In the past, Microsoft's support of Steam has been spotty.

Most of its new games have remained exclusive to the Microsoft Store, which also means they're only available as Universal Windows Apps, a container used on modern Windows with a number of drawbacks for games. UWAs are not nearly as open to modding, overlays, or tools like ReShade, and have been largely unpopular with PC gamers who care about those features. Some of Microsoft's strategy games like Halo Wars have already been released on Steam, and the real prelude to today's announcement was the news that the Master Chief Collection will be rolling out on Steam this year, starting with Halo Reach.

Today's announcement names Age of Empires 1-3 Definitive Editions and Gears 5 as the first games coming to Steam. It doesn't mention games currently exclusive to the Microsoft Store, like Sea of Thieves or the Forza Horizon series, but Steam releases for them seem like a good possibility based on this statement from Spencer:"Enabling gamers to play together, through cross-platform play and cross-network play across Windows 10 PCs and console, is vitally important. Building communities across all of those players, regardless of the store or platform they’ve chosen (console or PC), is also vitally important because it helps bring players together, allows games to find their largest audience and allows gaming to deliver its true potential of uniting people around the power of play.

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