The price PC users pay for Xbox Play Anywhere

Chris Stead 2 August 2016

xbox-play-anywhere-2

Microsoft’s Xbox Play Anywhere initiative promised twice the game for the same money, but if you look a little closer, it actually appears that PC gamers are being short-changed.

At E3 2016, Microsoft announced Xbox Play Anywhere; similar to services offered by competitors like PlayStation and Apple, it allows you to enjoy a game on both the company’s formats - Xbox and Windows 10 - without purchasing the game twice. You buy it on Xbox One, you can play it on PC, too. For free. No extra cost. No catch… well, actually…

Don’t PC games usually sell cheaper than Xbox One games? It varies per publisher, but in general in Australia, PC games routinely retail for $10 less than console games. They usually sell for $89.95. It popped into my mind, then, that if I was to buy the PC version of the upcoming roster of Xbox Play Anywhere games – Gears of War 4, ReCore and Forza Horizon 3 - I could get the Xbox One game for $10 cheaper. Ushering in my favourite word: “loophole”

So I went to find a pre-order location. I loaded up the Microsoft Store; typed in “Gears of War 4;” and up come the option to pre-order on PC. Beauty! I clicked the button and was transported out of the Windows Store and to the Xbox store where I was presented with only the Xbox One version of the game for $99.95. So where is the PC version?

Screenshot 2016-08-02 16.22.29

In fact, I can find no evidence of any PC version of the game being purchasable as a PC version, anywhere. For all three of the upcoming Xbox Play Anywhere games, the PC pre-order links shoot you directly to the Xbox One store to buy the Xbox version. Surely there must be an actual PC copy I can buy, right? Even if it is $99.95, the bastards.

Scanning Google, I realise quickly that there’s not even any PC box art out there. Only Xbox One box art. And retail isn’t stocking any PC version either. It’s not on Amazon. It’s not on EB Games. So if the only place you can buy the PC game is through Microsoft, and Microsoft sends you directly to the Xbox One store to buy the Xbox version, does a PC version of the game actually exist?

No. Not really.

Because I can already play any Xbox One game I own on PC via the Xbox App; remember that thing? You just stream your Xbox One to your PC, and play using your Xbox One controller, and there you have it – a PC version and an Xbox One version of the game for the same price. Hooray!

So let’s take a closer look at what Xbox Play Anywhere actually does, in handy step-by-step form:

  1. Pay $10 more than you normally would for a PC game.
  2. Actually get the Xbox One game.
  3. Be denied any opportunity to buy a boxed version of the game or any collector’s edition made bespoke for PC gamers.
  4. In fact, you can’t even buy the Xbox One collector’s edition from a store, because you only get a “legit” PC version if you buy off a digital Microsoft store. Xbox Play Anywhere does not play well with retail.
  5.  Also be denied any opportunity to buy the game at a cheaper rate because of a retail price war on a big well known IP.
  6.  Just get an Xbox One so you can buy a collector’s edition and stream it to your PC via the Xbox App like a second-class citizen.

Are we cool with this people? It certainly sounds nice to get two games for the price of one; but if you are a PC gamer who could not give a stuff about the “X-Bone” and its “imprecise controller,” it would seem like you’re getting half a game for the price of One, Xbox One. No more PC collector’s editions. No more enhanced PC experience. No more slightly reduced PC price. No more price wars.

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