Epic Games’ founder Tim Sweeney recently wrote an editorial for The Guardian openly speaking out against Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, and even making a call to other developers and publishers to fight against the new distribution platform. Sweeney, as the founder of the studio that created Gears of War, has had a longstanding relationship with Microsoft, and continues to do so with many of Microsoft’s games being built using Epic’s Unreal technology.
In short, Sweeney is not a fan of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform initiative. You can find the full editorial here, where Sweeney complains about its closed-off nature. “My criticism is limited to Microsoft structuring its operating system to advantage its own store while unfairly disadvantaging competing app stores, as well as developers and publishers who distribute games directly to their customers,” Sweeney writes. In the editorial he outlines the changes he would like to see to the platform to make it more open, and thanks Microsoft for listening to his feedback up to this point. “They listened very patiently, I hoped and believed that Microsoft would do the right thing, but here we are. Microsoft’s consumer launch and PR around UWP are in full swing, and this side of the story must be told,” Sweeney writes.
The big issue for Sweeney is that Microsoft is implementing difficult-to-bypass hurdles that he says unnecessarily close off the platform. He relates it to the Android platform, which he says similarly (but to a lesser degree) makes it difficult for users to download software that isn’t placed in front of them by Google. Sweeney fears a future where users and developers will struggle to download and release games on the platform, and maybe even close it off entirely in the future.
Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of Windows at Microsoft, offered a follow-up response to The Guardian defending its platform. “The Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, that can be supported by any store. We continue to make improvements for developers,” Gallo said. “We want to make Windows the best development platform regardless of technologies used.” Gallo also addressed one of Sweeney’s main concerns about the difficulty of “side-loading” apps, which is the process of installing third-party Microsodt apps. Sweeney wrote that the process is needlessly difficult, to which Gallo replied, “In the Windows 10 November Update, we enabled people to easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required.” Head of Xbox Phil Spencer also reiterated Gallo’s comment in a recent tweet seen below. You can find Gallo’s full comments here.
UWP is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, and can be supported by any store. Broad range of tools https://t.co/LqPcjRFzu9
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) March 4, 2016
We recently spoke with head of Xbox Phil Spencer about the Universal Windows Platform, who said in his presentation, “You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation and allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have the Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.” You can find that full feature and interview here.
Sweeney certainly brings up some solid points here, and seems to be coming from a place of long-term concern for PC gamers, rather than just bashing a platform he doesn’t like.