Microsoft retracts a statement claiming that all Microsoft Studios titles going forward will be Xbox Play Anywhere, and available on both Xbox and Windows 10.
Microsoft's E3 announcement regarding its plans to implement the Xbox Play Anywhere program, which allows game buyers to own an Xbox and Windows 10 version of a game with one purchase, was met with resounding positivity. Yet perhaps Microsoft itself was a bit too over-exuberant with the reveal, as it has now had to retract a statement regarding the scope of the Xbox Play Anywhere program. How big of a retraction is it? That depends on what you consider what Microsoft's intent is.
The initial announcement on the official Windows blog reads as follows:
"Every new title published from Microsoft Studios will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store."
Perhaps everyone can guess exactly what Microsoft retracted, given just how broad of a statement it made. It can be read as Microsoft not only saying that every single game it publishes going forward will be made for both PC and Xbox, but also that players will be able to buy a copy for one platform and get the other for free. For every game Microsoft makes going forward? That's a big promise to make before the program has even been officially launched.
Microsoft then retracted the statement, replacing it with the following:
"Every new title published from Microsoft Studios that we showed onstage at E3 this year will support Xbox Play Anywhere and will be easily accessible in the Windows Store."
Obviously, there's a world of difference between the two statements and confusion is only natural. The implication is that the Microsoft Studios titles shown at E3 will feature Xbox Play Anywhere, but anything else? It's best to wait until Microsoft gives the official word.
Taken at face value, Microsoft's retraction and new statement cuts into just how significant the Xbox Play Anywhere program is. It appears as if Microsoft is positioning itself to end the program if it doesn't prove particularly successful, or that it's entirely experimental even to start. Those conclusions will only be proven or disproven in time, but it's worth looking at what Microsoft's done since E3. Specifically, it has added basically all of Microsoft Studio's currently in-dev games to the Xbox Play Anywhere. So at least for now, the original pre-retraction statement is holding true.
Where it gets iffy is regarding titles like Dead Rising 4, which is being co-published by Capcom, and with Gigantic, which is free-to-play. They don't really fit with Microsoft's initial promise of Xbox Play Anywhere. Capcom shouldn't have to live up to Microsoft's promises. And regarding free-to-play titles with microtransactions, where would the world of Xbox Play Anywhere cross-buy begin and end? Perhaps the statement edit is best to avoid this sort of confusion, or just a legal requirement for Microsoft to protect itself from unforeseen issues in the future.
The appropriate take-away is that it's best not to read too much into the retraction and correction at this point. For now, it appears that Microsoft remains true to the idea behind the original statement -- that all Microsoft Studios titles will be part of the Xbox Play Anywhere program going forward. It's just that not every game makes sense in that capacity. Until Microsoft betrays the idea behind that original statement, it deserves the benefit of the doubt. After all, it's doing Xbox Play Anywhere in the first place, and it didn't have to do that.
Microsoft's Xbox Play Anywhere, which allows buyers to own a copy of a game on both Xbox and Windows 10 with just one purchase, will go live on September 13 with the launch of ReCore.