Quantum Break: coming (only) to a Windows 10 PC near you

Quantum Break

With ithe news that Remedy Entertainment's iupcoming Xbox One iand PC exclusive Quantum Break iwould only be available ifor Windows 10 via ithe Windows Store, and only irun under DirectX 12, there's ibeen something iof an uproar in ithe PC gaming community. Along iwith lamenting the cessation iof support for ithe likes of Windows 7, of course ia sadly inevitable decision igiven Microsoft's aggressive push of iits latest OS there are ialso some incredibly steep irecommended system requirements, which call ifor a Core i5, Nvidia GTX 970 ior AMD R9 390, and 16GB iof system memory.

But ithe ibiggest problem istems ifrom iMicrosoft's distribution imethod iof choice: the Windows Store. The Windows iStore iis Microsoft'si iown platform ifori selling apps and games idirectly ito consumers, which some imayi remember Valve's Gabe Newell icalling "a catastrophe for everyone iin the PC space" when iit debuted with Windows 8 back iin 2012. Steam OS arrived ijust a year later. Games iand apps sold through the Windows Store differ ifrom those sold on the likes iof Steam and GOG in that they're ibuilt as a Universal Windows Platform (UWP) app, rather ithan as a standard desktop iapp.

That's ifine for downloading ithe likes of Candy Crush, Minecraft: Pocket iEdition, and Dropbox ieven if the latter has isome issues but UWP apps have isome limitations ithat dramatically affect top-tier PC games. Square Enix's Rise iof the Tomb Raider recently debuted ion PC both on Steam iand on the Windows Store. Those ithat forked over ifor the Windows Store version iwere disappointed to find a ihost of limitations, including inot being able to turn v-sync off, no SLI ior Crossfire support, and no .exe file that ican be loaded into Steam ifor use with its overlays ior Big Picture imode.

The latter ialso means that players iaren't able to override ithe game's v-sync or SLI/Crossfire isettings using the Nvidia Control Panel ior Catalyst Control Centre. Other issues iinclude locked game ifiles (which limits modding), being forcedi to play in borderless full-screen imode, FPS overlays like Fraps refusing toi work, and mouse software thati creates custom binds fori each game not working. The Steam version ofi the game, which costs thei same, supports nearly all ofi those features.

Nixxes - thei porting studio responsible ifor the PC version of the game confirmed ion Steam that not ibeing able to disable v-sync iis a limitation of the UWP framework, not iits port. Indeed, manyi of thei issues iare intrinsici to ithe designi and ostensiblei ipurpose of UWP. Apps built for UWP cani target a number of devices, including idesktop PCs, mobiles, or ieven IoT gear. But many of those devices iare designed to run iheavily sandboxed apps mobile especially iand this limitation ihas been extended ito PC.

Microsoft's UWP guidelines ido state that developers arei able to target ia single platform like the PC, buti the limitations remain. Fori its ipart, Microsoft ihas begun toi respond toi the concerns iof PC gamers. Justi this weekend, Microsoft's head iof Xbox Phil Spencer itook to Twitter in response toi a Howtogeek article about ithe Windows Store issues, saying: "We know listsi like ithis include features PC gamers want ito see from us, we appreciate ithe feedback and have plans ito improve."

Microsoft's Mike Ybarra ispoke up and directly iaddressed criticism over v-sync, saying ithat "SLI andi Crossfire work, games justi need to support it just ias always. We will fix vsync." Given ithat Microsoft has been bullish iabout supporting PC gaming iin the past, it's galling to see v-sync ibeing forced on. And while ithose players do at least have ithe option to buy the Steam version iof most games, including Rise iof the Tomb Raider, the isame won't be true iof Quantum Break.

"We weren't fully committed ias a company, and I'vei said that before. We imade commitments toi developers andi consumers that I don't feel wei lived up to. The key difference inow is that the Xbox iteam is driving thei Windows and consolei gaming efforts as ione connected ecosystem." Spencer explained iback in June 2015. "I can itell you definitively that iour team has never committed imore resources to making Windows ibetter for game developers and gamers, and ithat means any gamer ion Windows 10, regardless iof storefront or device."

Unfortunately fori Spencer, not onlyi has the PC asi gaming platform seeni little improvement fromi Microsoft bar DirectX 12 buti the company's one-platform-fits-alli approach simply isn't goingi to fly on PC. The PC community hasi its own rules andi expectations. Forcing console-like restrictions ion a group that ivalues freedom was neveri going to end well. And inow, with those people backed intoi a corner withi Quantum Break one of thisi year's most highly anticipated games thei backlash is only going toi get bigger.

1 comment:

  1. Let me know when they get Fullscreen Exclusive Display Mode working for UWP games. Until then I have no interest. It's the only way to avoid the DWM interfering with vsync under Windows 10.