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Is it really worth trusting Microsoft this time around?
We’ve heard it before, right? A new OS that will push the PC gaming to new, mind-blowing heights that can’t be achieved otherwise. This was the slogan of Windows Vista after all, as the new DirectX 10 API was not even compatible with Microsoft’s previous OS, Windows XP. But hold on a second, what is going on now? Vista and DX10 is outdated and the real revolution will start with Windows 8? Oh come on Microsoft. Seriously now, come on.
Let’s go back in time, shall we? The year is 2007 and Crysis is being demonstrated at Microsoft’s Conference. The game looks spectacular and wins the Best Graphics Awards. According to both companies, those visuals can be achieved only with Windows Vista and DX10. Microsoft goes one step further and releases comparison ‘targeted’ screenshots of Flight Simulator X under DX9 and DX10. The company also announced in 2006 that both Shadowrun and Halo 2 will be released exclusively to Windows Vista, as the games would take advantage of this new OS. Crytek on the other hand releases some comparison screenshots and videos of Crysis running under DX9 and DX10 and Remedy announces that Alan Wake would be a Vista exclusive title. The future of Microsoft’s new OS seemed destined to push the gaming industry to new heights.
And then all hell has broken loose. Crysis was running better under Windows XP (although the company stated that the game would run better under DX9 in Windows Vista), gamers found ways to enable all those ‘exclusive’ DX10 features under DX9, Halo 2 was emulated to run in Windows XP and didn’t take advantage at all of Microsoft’s new OS, Shadowrun was a failure and put an end to cross-platform gaming, Microsoft didn’t support at all PC gaming despite their previous statements and Alan Wake was released exclusively on X360. PC gamers got owned.
Fast forward some years and Windows 7 is here with us. DX11 is available and brings some great features, like the tessellation. Tessellation can eliminate the horrible LOD effects if used properly and we are quite shocked to not find a game that uses tessellation in that way. Apart from Battefield 3 – which looks great under DX11 – there isn’t any DX11 game worth mentioning. Yes, Metro 2033 is great but there aren’t many differences between the DX10 and the DX11 version. And on top of that, the most graphically intensive games are two DX9 titles. Crysis 1 and The Witcher 2. You read it right, Windows XP users can enjoy the best graphically PC games.
This is quite natural to be honest. Current consoles have mainly DX9 features. Developers won’t be bothered to take advantage of DX11. It’s easier after all to simply port a game than remake it to take advantage of the PC platform. Although there are some PC-exclusive developers, they didn’t bother with Microsoft’s latest API’s as most users had DX9 cards. Futuremark tried to push the graphical boundaries with Shattered Horizon and made it a DX10 exclusive title. Guess what? It flopped. Most of game developers decided to stick with DX9. Take for example Techland, the team behind Call Of Juarez. Who can forget the amazing DX10 patch that offered new features and new textures? And what did the company decide to do with its sequel? To make it a DX9 title. Even Bohemia Interactive’s tactical military FPS, ArmA 2, is a DX9 game.
So can we really trust Microsoft now and will Windows 8 be a real revolution for PC gaming? No, we can’t and Windows 8 won’t be a PC gaming revolution. The reason is quite obvious. Although there are some exceptions, most developers earn more money with all those console games and won’t be bothered to build their games with the PC platform in mind. If Microsoft really wants to push PC gaming, then they should release X360’s flagship games. Alan Wake, Gears Of War 2-3, Forza 3, Halo: Reach… if Microsoft really wants to start supporting the PC, they should release them. PC gamers need great games and not a game like Fable 3 that was also delayed 4-5 months. If Microsoft is determined to support PC gaming, they will develop triple-A PC games and not casual games like Age Of Empires Online. If Microsoft wants to revolutionize PC gaming, they will develop and publish a lot of quality PC games and not keep stating that their latest OS will be a good thing to all PC gamers out there.
Microsoft stated some time ago that their latest OS, Windows 8, will be a real new push into PC gaming and according to the latest news, Windows 8 will be released next year and will focus on gaming. Will Windows 8 be truly something good for PC gamers? We’ll have to wait and see. The company however needs to start truly supporting the PC platform. A good start will be to properly port all those triple-A games that we’ve already mentioned. Another big step will be to feature PC games at this year’s E3 Conference. If there aren’t any PC gaming news at Microsoft’s Conference, then we can kiss all those previous statements goodbye. As simple as that!