Epic Games CEO thinks Windows 10 could eventually break Steam0 Comments
Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of development studio Epic Games, hasn't made any effort to hide his disdain for Windows 10 and Microsoft's Universal Windows Platform. In fact, he's done the complete opposite. He believes that the gradual shift away from the Win32 API and toward UWP will inevitably force developers to adopt Microsoft's new standards lest they be doomed to obscurity. Now, speaking with Edge, Sweeney has expressed concerns that this shift might also serve to break Steam, by far the PC's most popular digital distribution service.
"There are two programming interfaces for Windows and every app has to choose one of them," Sweeney said. "Every Steam app – every PC game for the past few decades – has used Win32. It’s been both responsible for the vibrant software market we have now, but also for malware. Any program can be a virus. Universal Windows Platform is seen as an antidote to that. It’s sandboxed – much more locked down."
That's the idea, anyway. But according to Sweeney, that more tightly-closed system is a double-edged sword — as UWP starts to become the preferred platform, Win32 will decline. And, as Win32 declines, users will have no choice but to rely on Microsoft's Windows Store.
"The risk here is that, if Microsoft convinces everybody to use UWP, then they phase out Win32 apps. If they can succeed in doing that then it’s a small leap to forcing all apps and games to be distributed through the Windows Store. Once we reach that point, the PC has become a closed platform. It won’t be that one day they flip a switch that will break your Steam library – what they’re trying to do is a series of sneaky manoeuvres. They make it more and more inconvenient to use the old apps, and, simultaneously, they try to become the only source for the new ones."
Sweeney also stated that Microsoft has pulled this kind of move before, making a series of patches and gradual changes to Windows that eventually serve to break the competition's software. He believes they could and very well may do the same to Steam.
"Slowly, over the next five years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken. They’ll never completely break it, but will continue to break it until, in five years, people are so fed up that Steam is buggy that the Windows Store seems like an ideal alternative. That’s exactly what they did to their previous competitors in other areas. Now they’re doing it to Steam. It’s only just starting to become visible. Microsoft might not be competent enough to succeed with their plan, but they’re certainly trying."
While Sweeney's fears may be just, Microsoft denied any notion of monopolizing PC game development back in March, saying, "We're not locking down the app framework to lock down people's ability to distribute games and applications on the platform." Still, words and intentions don't always align, and Sweeney — one of the most prolific developers in the industry — is certainly smart enough to understand and interpret development trends. Nevertheless, Microsoft stated in a response to Sweeney's criticisms that the Universal Windows Platform is "fully open" to developers.
"Tim is a respected figure in the gaming world, and we value his feedback," a representative said to Game Informer. "As stated previously, the Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem that is available to every developer, and can be supported by any store. It’s early, and we recognize there is still work to be done, but we want to make Windows the best development platform regardless of technologies used."
Tim Sweeney thinks Microsoft will make Steam 'progressively worse' with Windows 10 patches, PC Gamer