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Epic CEO: How Microsoft is plotting to cripple Steam and seize control of PC gaming

Jared Newman | July 27, 2016
Tim Sweeney claims Microsoft will intentionally cripple Steam through bugs while pushing the Universal Windows Platform.

That brings us to the idea that Microsoft will undermine these platforms through nefarious patches. This claim, which seems to come out of thin air, is a complete misreading of Microsoft’s business practices through the years.

Yes, Microsoft has snuffed out its fair share of competition before, but not by sneakily breaking other companies’ software. What got Microsoft into antitrust trouble in the late 1990s was its tendency to build on top of industry standards with proprietary solutions, then use its substantial market power to make those standards obsolete.

One might argue that something similar is happening now with UWP, but keep in mind Microsoft is not coming from a position of strength here. It’s competing with well-entrenched ways of creating software, and massive gaming audiences that are loyal to the way things are. Just because Microsoft controls the underlying platform doesn’t mean the company can get away with anything.

Need proof? Look no further than the intense backlash to Windows 8, and the utter lack of traction in the Windows Store over the last four years.

The real threat to Steam

There’s little doubt that Microsoft wants to knock the wind out of Steam and establish the Windows Store as the predominant way to play games on PC. But it’s not going to happen in the way that Sweeney describes.

Instead, Microsoft will actually have to compete, as we’re starting to see through ever-deeper ties to Xbox consoles. These efforts include cross-platform multiplayer and the ability to buy a game once and play it on either console or PC. Both of these features involve the use of UWP, but this isn’t about suffocating rivals through artificial restrictions. Instead, it’s about doing the hard work to create something better.

Whether Microsoft succeeds as a competitor to Steam is up for debate, but if you’re opposed to the company even trying, then you’re missing the forest for the trees.

 

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