Over the past few years, Microsoft's behaviour in regards to the PC gaming has more closely resembled a teen high-school drama. One minute he's—Microsoft is a he in this analogy, just roll with it—he's inviting us to the prom, saying we're the prettiest platform around. The next, he's run away with the console market. Sure, he still calls to tell us that we mean the world to him, but we don't really believe him at this point, do we?
Well, not really, no, but that doesn't mean Microsoft doesn't see the potential of the PC as a platform. In fact, they've outlined its dominance in a new job listing, advertising a Business Development position overseeing games on PC, mobile and tablets.
"51% of all time spent gaming is on PCs - more than on consoles and mobile devices combined," states the listing . "PC gaming itself is projected to make $25 Billion in 2014, growing 13% year over year. Across the Windows platform, including phones, tablets, and PCs, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to change the world of gaming."
Okay, yes, you'll have spotted the problem already: Microsoft are listing the PC side-by-side tablets and phones; something that continues later in the role's description. "You are the epicenter of the mobile and PC games strategy," it states, "bringing together teams across Microsoft and the field to drive flawless execution, in addition to integrating deeply with the Xbox team."
What does it all mean? Everything? Nothing? Their strategy is one that, from the outside, seems impenetrable. They didn't close Games for Windows: Live, but seemingly only to support those games that didn't bail. They say things like , "we remain committed to investing in PC gaming in the years ahead, and look forward to sharing more in the future," but are providing no hints as to what that commitment might mean. Are they interested in targeting "core" gamers, or will they stay firmly in the casual market?
I hope it's the former, because Microsoft had a genuinely strong line-up over E3. Chris has already made the case for Halo's PC return, but there are plenty of upcoming exclusives that would feel right at home here. (I'm looking at you, Forza Horizon 2.) The reference to integrating with the Xbox team could be a sign that Microsoft's biggest games will be crossing over.
It would be nice to think that this is a sign of change, but let's be honest: we've been hurt before.
All of which leaves only one crucial question. If this is a teen high-school drama, is the PC Molly Ringwald or Ally Sheedy?