At E3, Microsoft announced a new feature to bring together their Xbox ecosystem with the much larger, and more diverse, Windows 10 user base. The initiative was called Xbox Play Anywhere, and amazingly the name is quite appropriate. The idea is that you can purchase a supported game on either the Xbox One, or Windows 10 store, and you would get the version for the other platform at no cost. In addition, game saves would be synchronized between the two platforms, making for a seamless experience.

The move makes a lot of sense for the company, especially with the Xbox One sales falling short of their chief rival, Sony’s PlayStation 4. This is a way to more closely tie the two previously separate platforms. It’s taken a lot of work on the platform side to enable this, because only a couple of years ago Microsoft would have had no way to even distribute the game on Windows.

That has changed with Windows 10’s Universal Windows Platform, and the Windows Store, which has opened up this possibility. Changes brought in the Windows 10 Anniversary Update have enabled this game sharing, and tomorrow we will see the first Xbox Play Anywhere title launching with Recore, developed by Comcept and Armature Studio and published by Microsoft Studios. This is certainly not going to be the last title either, with all of the games Microsoft announced at E3 also supporting this.

For those interested in trying out Recore, it’s a third person action-adventure game, and I’ve had a chance to play it over the last couple of days on both the Xbox One and the PC. I’m not going to do any plot reviews or anything, but the core game mechanics are one of the few to pull me in this year, and the inclusion of many puzzles as well as combat make for a pretty fun game. Xbox Play Anywhere has worked as advertised, with game saves quickly syncing between the two platforms, and it truly is a seamless experience quitting the game on one platform and picking it up on the other.

To get the best experience on the PC, a pretty beefy system is needed. The Recore team announced the specifications:

On my desktop system, with a Core i7-6700K and GTX 760, I was able to play with decent framerates on their medium setting, but for better graphics a bigger GPU would be recommended. On the Xbox One, my only issue was very long load times, but I did store the game on an external USB hard drive, which likely didn’t help. On my desktop, the same level load times went from minutes to seconds thanks to a Samsung 950 Pro.

I think this is a smart move by Microsoft for a couple of reasons, and in hindsight it’s a feature that they likely should have added a long time ago, but they didn’t have any sort of distribution system that would have worked for something like a PC game before the Windows 10 Store came along. On the sales side, it not only competes with Sony, but also with Steam, especially since the Steam Machine has yet to make a big impact in the console market. Microsoft has done a nice job bringing the console together with Windows 10, with the Xbox app, game streaming, and now Xbox Play Anywhere. They have a lot of work on the hardware side to catch up to Sony, especially with the new PS4 Pro. On the software side, they have a stronger hand.

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  • bug77 - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    " hindsight it’s a feature that they likely should have added a long time ago, but they didn’t have any sort of distribution system that would have worked for something like a PC game before the Windows 10 Store came along"

    Because God forbid they made Xbox purchases available on Steam. Reinventing the wheel is so much better. Because reasons.

    (And yes, I'm aware UWP != Steam, but Steam could have filled the gap in case of games)
  • killeak - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    Well, a 30% cut is a good reason.
  • cygnus1 - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    Absolutely this. It always comes down to money.
  • aliquis - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    Just make it Humble bundle style where I can choose whom to pay.

    Or make the Steam cut 0% and make it a paid for service (I guess the best consumer option is if they could share, say Steam got 15% for providing the service and Microsoft got 15% for the sale or wise-versa whatever you want to call it / is it for.)
  • brucethemoose - Monday, September 19, 2016 - link

    FYI Microsoft can't just tell Valve what to do.
  • aliquis - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    They could likely agree on something. But of course depending on who they think would get the money eventually. But it would make sense for Microsoft to simple grab that market because Google and Apple have theirs.

    Anyway, the Microsoft UWP games would likely be a bit more popular and sell a bit more on Steam and Valve would likely prefer if Microsoft didn't started to pull their customers so ... One solution would of course be to just offer the games 30% more expensive on Steam and then let the customer decide if having it on Steam was worth it.
  • damianrobertjones - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    Some of us no longer wish for Valve to be our overlords. Gabe'n threw a fit when Windows 8 hit the scene and added a whole load of FUD.

    P.s. Where's HL 3?
  • The Garden Variety - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    Seriously, F-Valve. The sloppy nerd love that company gets is completely undeserved. They're far more capricious and predatory than Microsoft has ever been. Oh, but they give away games every summer so that's all forgiven. Stupid. We all just become so stupid as long as we can get something for cheap. Money indeed.
  • Samus - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    I guess that's why steam had more indie dev games than every other platform combined?
  • Alexvrb - Monday, September 12, 2016 - link

    It's also got the most early release messes and half-finished titles. Anyway I'm sure the volume of indie games on Steam has *nothing* to do with the fact that they have a near-monopoly on digital distribution of PC games. That wouldn't be like, you know, the reason or anything.

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