4th March 2016

Xbox and the PC: A perfect match?

Stephen Lewis considers the tensions between Xbox and its old-school rival, the PC

At a recent event, Phil Spencer of Xbox announced that numerous titles previously exclusive to Xbox One would be making their way to PC; namely Gears of War Ultimate Edition, Forza Motorsport 6 Apex and, a few weeks ago, Quantum Break. This is not entirely out of the ordinary as in the past some Xbox games have eventually made their way to PC, such as the original Gears of War and the first two Halo games. Yet Spencer also hinted at the fact that the Xbox One may soon become an upgradable piece of technology, not dissimilar to PCs where the titles above are soon to make their debut. This raises two questions: Is releasing games on PC that were originally Xbox exclusive a good idea? And will an upgradable Xbox One be worth it when you could do the same on PC?

The first of these depends on the games: Forza 6 has already been available for a long time on XB so the die hard fans will most likely have it already, as will most others who enjoy racing games and own the console. Quantum Break however is more interesting as it is a brand new IP, and free copies for PC come with a pre-order on XB, so is it worth buying the standalone PC version when you could possibly get both for the price of one. Yet just this January the buying power of the PC was proven when Rise of the Tomb Raider was released as it sold over three times as many copies as the XB version in its launch month.

The upgradable Xbox is the more confusing issue. There have been rumours for years that one day consoles will go away, perhaps to be replaced by streaming services built into TVs, much in the same way that many people moved from DVD to Blu-Ray and then ending up with Netflix built into a smart TV or box connected to it. An upgradable Xbox would mean that instead of spending a few hundred pounds every couple of year for the next console, it could instead be spread out over a longer period in smaller amounts. But what is the point of a console doing this when upgrading and modifying has been part of the PC mentality for so long? A PC can do more than a console—that much is obvious—but with Xbox exclusives becoming available on PC, is Microsoft shooting itself in the foot in the console market and slowly leaning toward a 50/50 split, or more, with the PC, where it is a major force in the business market?  Perhaps we will get more news on this at E3 in June.

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