SAN FRANCISCO >> Microsoft is attempting to break down the walls surrounding console gaming.
Phil Spencer, head of the company’s video game division, detailed Microsoft’s plan for game makers to create universal apps that can run on both Xbox One consoles and PCs with Windows 10, as well as smartphones, tablets and other devices running the forthcoming version of Windows. That includes HoloLens, Microsoft’s wearable headset that gives wearers the ability to interact with three-dimensional images.
“Our goal with gaming at Microsoft is to allow people to play games wherever they are,” Spencer told game makers Wednesday at the Game Developers Conference. “We know for developers that it’s critically important for you to reach those gamers wherever they are.”
Spencer said the marriage of Xbox One and Windows 10 would allow creators to make their games easily accessible to consumers, regardless of whether they switch between devices or where they buy apps.
“We know there are billions of people that play games across all devices,” Spencer said. “Today, the world is segmented. You don’t have linkage really between the places that your customers are playing your games.”
Microsoft Corp. first revealed its plans to bring Xbox and Windows closer together at the Jan. 21 unveiling of HoloLens and Windows 10, when Spencer demonstrated the upcoming Xbox One game “Fable Legends” running on a PC.
At the annual gathering of game developers on Wednesday, Spencer demonstrated the cross-play functionality on stage with a pair of players on Xbox One seamlessly facing off against another duo on PC in a match of the competitive multiplayer indie game “#IDARB.”
Spencer also teased that Microsoft will release an adapter later this year that will allow PCs to use wireless Xbox One controllers. No price was announced.
In a private demo after Spencer’s talk, Xbox director of program management Michael Ybarra showed off other functionality, including the abilities to record and edit game clips in Windows, find Xbox Live friends across multiple platforms and stream the Xbox One title “Sunset Overdrive” on a Microsoft Surface tablet.
Ybarra said game streaming will initially only be available on devices connected to the same network, but the company was looking into making it available across the Internet.
Microsoft is investing heavily in training developers on how to create games that work across its platforms this week by sponsoring such GDC sessions as “Developing with Xbox Live for Windows 10” and “Gaming Consumer Experience on Windows 10.”
The move is part of Microsoft’s bid to win back a larger audience after losing ground in the mobile computing boom. Windows has long been the dominant operating software for desktop and laptop computers, but business has suffered with more people using smartphones and tablets.