By the time you get your hands on this issue, you may have upgraded to Windows 10 for free. You may be wondering about the whats, whys, and hows that make Windows 10 a different beast for all your gaming activities.
We asked Mike Ybarra, director of program management for Xbox, to explain the changes in broad strokes.
“It’s really about us making Windows 10 the best version of Windows for gaming,” he says. “That was our baseline. We knew we needed to hit a home run in that area. The ability to take screenshots, record gameplay sessions, sharing those sessions, making all the things they do now easier and work better, and bring in more advanced features. It’s great for both developers and consumers.”
On the surface, things really are that simple – Windows 10 is a unified operating system that provides tools to stream across platforms, incorporates cross-platform play, and keeps track of all your data and stats, which you can access from any Windows 10 device. Here are some of the stand- out features.
The Xbox App
The Xbox app (which features your friends list, achievements, messaging, etc.) is built into Windows 10, so PC players can set up a Microsoft account and have it available should they ever hop to another platform. Anytime you have access to Windows, you’ll have access to your info and social features.
Xbox One Streaming
Windows 10 allows you to play your Xbox One games on PCs and tablets via streaming over wireless or wired connections. This may seem like a niche use, but think about it – you could play games while family and friends use the TV for something else without a problem, and streaming online is as easy as ever. “Lots of people are already running Twitch on console,” Ybarra says. “Multiplayer really took off on PC, so being able to record those sessions is important to us.”
Record What You Play
Game DVR is built into Windows 10, which is great if you’re a YouTube enthusiast. With just a few button presses, you’re recording clips or taking screenshots that can be shared easily.
One of the big features Microsoft is most excited about is cross-platform play. “The ability to play cross-platform with friends on PC or TV is a big investment we’re making,” Ybarra says. “You’ll have a much bigger pool of players to tap into with cross-platform play, and we’ll be investing in eSports as well.” We already know several games that plan to take advantage of these merged Xbox One and PC player pools. “Our flagship title for crossplatform play is Fable Legends,” Ybarra says. “Our studios are making sure that it works seamlessly between input devices. Matchmaking, joining friends, and many other features are all crosssystem, so progression will be saved instantly across platforms.” Early titles hoping to take advantage of this feature include Killer Instinct, #IDARB, and Gigantic. Games like Gigantic will give players the option to be matched with the entire pool of players or just ones using the same platform, so there won’t be any concerns about matching controllers with keyboard-mouse setups.
A New Marketplace
Along with Windows 10, Microsoft is introducing a new marketplace where players can buy games and DLC. These purchases take place at the account level and follow players around from platform to platform, which means anything from a cosmetic sword to full-fledged DLC will be waiting for players when they swap from device to device. Not all marketplace purchases unlock other versions elsewhere, however, so pay attention from title to title. If you picked up say, Shovel Knight on Steam (while running Windows 10), it’s not going to unlock a Windows 10 Xbox Live version for you as well. But, if you picked it up on the Windows Store or Xbox Live, the title would unlock across Windows 10-compatible platforms for you. “The Steam store and the content within the store remain a separate marketplace from the Windows Store on Windows 10,” Ybarra says.
What is Direct X anyway? Basically, Direct X determines the hardware capabilities of your computer and then sets matching program parameters – it’s an easy all-in-one way to handle all kinds of tweaking that was a pain back in the DOS days. DirectX 12 streamlines the process even more to put more power into the hands of creators. “We’re giving developers greater access to the hardware, which is going to lead to higher framerates on experiences, improved power efficiency, and more,” Ybarra says. “Developers are using DirectX 12 across both Windows 10 and Xbox One.” PC gamers are likely already prepared for DX12 benefits. One of the cooler aspects of DX12 is that it’s (mostly) backward compatible with DX11 hardware. Unless your graphics card is dated, you can enjoy DX12 benefits effortlessly. DX12 is a nice step as PC users prepare for the road to 4k as well, as the GPU overhead reduction is a big boon for screen resolution.
Putting It All Together
Whether you’re taking advantage of streaming functionality, new community opportunities to make new friends and allies on Xbox Live, recording and sharing capabilities, cross-platform gaming, or even just Direct X12 – Windows 10 has a lot to offer core PC g amers