Epic’s Tim Sweeney Predicts Dystopian Gaming Future In Which Microsoft Crushes Steam
Update: Microsoft recognizes it has work to do, though it maintains that UWP is an open platform. "Tim is a respected figure in the gaming world, and we value his feedback," a company representative told us via email. "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."
Epic’s Tim Sweeney has been a vocal critic of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform (UWP). Beginning in March, Sweeney began a campaign to inform and rally developers to push back against what he considers to be a closed platform.
Sweeney believes that UWP effectively helps Microsoft position its storefront better than competing vendors like Steam, Origin, and GOG. Microsoft disputes that notion, claiming UWP is an open platform with tools that can be applied to any app regardless of sales venue.
In the latest issue of Edge, Sweeney fired again at Microsoft, suggesting that UWP is Microsoft’s effort to chip away at Steam. “The risk here is that if Microsoft convinces everybody to use UWP, then they phase out Win32 apps,” he writes. “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 maneuvers.”
He suggests that through Windows 10 updates, Microsoft will make it less convenient to use Win32 apps. Sweeney’s prediction is that over the next five years, Microsoft will squeeze Steam to the point that users are disinterested in using the platform. This would position Microsoft’s own store as the best remaining alternative, a move Sweeney accuses Microsoft of employing against other competitors in the past.
We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment. We’ll update should we receive a response.
For more on Sweeney's views related to UWP, you can read our interview with him from GDC 2016.
Sweeney paints a dark picture of Microsoft’s plans. His statements are provocative, which may indicate that his extreme position is intended to galvanize the development community to send a message to Microsoft.
It’s not clear if he is purposely being inflammatory to rally the troops or if he truly believes Microsoft is walking a dark path that will spell doom for gaming as we know it. His statements certainly describe the latter.