Under Phil Spencer’s leadership, Xbox has become quite the pro-consumer brand. Its ecosystem comprises many initiatives that focus squarely on putting the consumer first. These initiatives include Backward Compatibility, Cross-Play, Play Anywhere, Gamepass, and more. Yet, there is a weird dynamic surrounding the PC/Xbox shared ecosystem. Microsoft often doesn’t treat both platforms with the same energy. This double standard is a concerning trend for Xbox fans.
Microsoft has gone to great length to make Xbox titles also available for PC. However, it’s not consistently a two-way street. For whatever strange reason, Xbox has hidden some of its biggest titles on PC. Even though Xbox touts its brand as a shared ecosystem between both platforms.
One example of this double standard is the treatment of Gears Tactics. The game released first on PC long before it graced the Xbox platform. In a way, this decision artificially restricted its player base. Since the Gears franchise is already well established in the console space, it felt like a missed opportunity to not launch it on Xbox. The PC crowd perhaps isn’t as familiar with the Gears of War series as say Xbox fans. It would have reverberated better with the Xbox crowd for sure.
Age of Empires 4
The most recent example of the PC double standard is Xbox’s handling of Age of Empires. The latest iteration of the long series has skipped the Xbox console entirely. Although Age of Empires 4 is a strategy game, Xbox fully supports mouse and keyboard controls for years now. When asked about whether Age of Empires 4 is coming to the console, the answers have been unclear.
The Xbox community is very understanding and accepting. Especially when information is relayed in a transparent manner. However, if it is simply a matter of the title not running well on the Series S/X platform, then they need to say that. It is more likely that Microsoft does not want to force keyboard and mouse controls on the console for Age of Empires 4. Instead, Microsoft should release the game on Xbox with an explicit warning to use a keyboard and mouse so it doesn’t compromise the Age of Empires experience. This could avoid the issue that Halo Wars had on the console. That resulted in a more dumbed-down RTS forced controller experience, which felt slightly shoehorned to work on both consoles and PC.
These practices will likely help negate the double standard found in the Xbox ecosystem and deliver great experiences regardless of which platform you play on.