This Dumb Industry: Windows 10 Store, Round 2

By Shamus
on Oct 11, 2016
Filed under:
Column

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my misadventures with the Windows 10 Store, and how trying to conduct a simple transaction had screwed up my computer. Some people quite reasonably pointed out that my complaints were more focused on the problems with the operating system than with the store, so my comparisons to Steam were unfair.

Okay then. Let’s ignore all the horribleness of the Anniversary Update and focus on the store. Let’s try to buy Forza 3 Horizon.

When I search the store for Forza 3, this is where it takes me:

A store with items you can`t buy. This is the Windows 10 version of the Monty Python Cheese Shop skit.

A store with items you can`t buy. This is the Windows 10 version of the Monty Python Cheese Shop skit.

“Available only as part of a bundle.”

What we have here is a store listing for something that can’t be bought. What you need to do is scroll down to details hidden off-screen to see this:

THESE ARE NOT BUNDLES. BUNDLE IMPLIES MULTIPLE GAMES. YOU DOLTS.

THESE ARE NOT BUNDLES. BUNDLE IMPLIES MULTIPLE GAMES. YOU DOLTS.

Okay, so you can’t buy this game. But you can buy it in a “bundle”. And those “bundles” are just the different editions of the game. I’m sure this makes sense to some database nerd at Microsoft. They probably have the listing for the core game components, and then include that listing as part of the different editions. But there is no reason to expose this layer of abstraction to the user. The consumer does not care how you structure your database, and the entire purpose of a store FRONT is to present the customer with a clear interface for selecting products.

Fine. Let’s just click on the Standard Edition.

Enjoy the advantages of paying console markup prices for PC games!

Enjoy the advantages of paying console markup prices for PC games!

Like Origin before them, Microsoft seems to think that they’re the only store around, and not a hilarious underdog in the face of an overpowering market hegemon. Even ignoring Steam’s shocking market share, the rest of the market isn’t terribly fluid either. Both Origin and Good Old Games have the Win 10 Store beat on price, features, and I-already-have-an-account-elsewhere-so-why-bother.

Not only is the Windows 10 store not offering any competition to Steam, they’re not even putting up a meaningful threat to the humble also-ran platforms. Here they’re trying to sell games to PC users by charging console markup prices. Sure, that’s what the game costs on Xbox One, and if you buy the game on one platform then you can play it on both / either. That’s a nice feature. But this doesn’t help lure people away from Steam, Good Old Games, or Origin. The rest of Microsoft figured this out decades ago: Get customers locked-in, then you can price-gouge them.

But Forza 3 Horizon is a popular title with glowing reviews, so let’s just assume I’m willing to pay $60 for this game and ignore the pages and pages of successful, well-reviewed, and much-cheaper offerings on Steam.

First off, let’s make sure I can run it. I scroll down to see that there is no compatibility information. I actually need to go back to the previous page – the edition of the game you can’t buy – to see what the system requirements are. Again, this is sad, bush-league stuff. Worse, when I get there I find this:

Why are most of the recommended specs "Not specified"?

Why are most of the recommended specs "Not specified"?

Which is wrong. I’ve got 16GB of main memory. My graphics card has 3GB of memory. This blunder wouldn’t be so pitiful if this storefront wasn’t being run by the same people who write my operating system, which means they really ought to know how to properly query system properties. I mean, I can look up these things in control panel and they’re listed correctly. How hard did they need to work to get this wrong?

But fine. Let’s just give Microsoft a completely undeserved benefit of the doubt. Let’s try to buy this thing anyway. I press the big green “Buy” button and…

There are two buttons here. One opens another dialog and the other closes it. Which means THIS dialog has no reason to exist.

There are two buttons here. One opens another dialog and the other closes it. Which means THIS dialog has no reason to exist.

All of that stuff directly under “Choose an account” is actually one big button. So what we have here is a dialog asking for you to either press a button or close the box. If you close the box (maybe because you wanted to go and look up what the login info is) then the Storefront “buy” button doesn’t come back. It just says “Working” forever, and there’s no way to return to this dialog except to close the entire store and start over.

After you type in your name and password, you’re sent to this screen:

NOBODY CARES ABOUT STUPID CORTANA, LOSERS. Cortana is to Windows 10 what the Kinect is to the Xbox 360.

NOBODY CARES ABOUT STUPID CORTANA, LOSERS. Cortana is to Windows 10 what the Kinect is to the Xbox 360.

This is a very complex choice, and Microsoft is presenting it in a very confusing way.

I’m not using an account password on my machine. The last thing I want on my PC is a login step. For example, two weeks ago when the Anniversary Update hosed my computer, I was obliged to reboot dozens of times in the process of sorting it out. It was an infuriating and time-consuming process, and forcing me to type a password for every reboot would have just been salt in the wound.

I don’t want a password on my computer. I want the members of my family to be able to come over here and use my computer whenever they need to, and I don’t want them to have to memorize one of my massive, complex passwords to do so. (And since this is an on-line account, I’d have to use that sort of password.) They already have their own passwords they need to memorize. My mom sometimes stops by the house to print things, and I want her to be able to do so, even if I’m not around to type in my password for her. Sure, I could put the password on a stickynote on the monitor. But then why have a password at all? And finally, if I’m having connectivity problemsOr if Microsoft is. the last thing I want is for my PC to stall and waste a bunch of my time at the sign-in screen waiting for a reply from a server that can’t be reached.

The point being, a Windows login is all downside for me. I can see why other people find them useful, but I see it as a needless riskWhat if I forget it, or wind up hospitalized? Suddenly my computer is useless to the family and nobody can bring me documents. and a hassle.

The very last thing I want on this machine is a password lock. But here the store is presenting me with a situation where it wants to add one. Microsoft is saying, “Oh, we see you DO have a Microsoft account after all. Once you use it here in the store, we’ll go ahead and use it when logging into the machine at start-up.” From my perspective this is not a feature, but an act of aggression.

I need to get through this process without the store making any changes to how my operating system works. So now I’m reading these three paragraphs of text, trying to figure out how to preserve my current setup. I can leave the password field blank or I can press the link to sign in to “just this app”. I should add that there are no back buttons on any of these dialogs, so you really don’t want to make a mistake here.

You might point out that I’m once again blaming the store for the sins of the operating system. I’d be happy to stop doing that the moment the store stops screwing with my operating system.

Anyway, I use the blue link and I think it works. And so we come to the moment of truth:

WHAT YEAR IS IT?

WHAT YEAR IS IT?

“No refunds”. This is particularly galling since this game requires the Anniversary Update, which kills my PC. I don’t have that update, but the store is letting me buy the game anyway. Also the store incorrectly thinks I don’t meet the hardware requirements. The store is willing to sell me a game it “knows” I can’t run, and it doesn’t allow for refunds.

This is shocking. Origin offers refunds. Steam offers refunds. GoG offers refunds.

So let’s sum up the Windows 10 Store as compared to the competition:

  1. Buggy.
  2. Meager catalog, consisting mostly of mobile shovelware. That’s not going to compete well against the classics at GoG, the mix of back titles and AAA stuff at Origin, or the EVERYTHING at Steam.
  3. Numerous interface problems that needlessly confuse, hassle, or worry the would-be customer.
  4. Because of the way apps are locked away from the user, Windows 10 games have a bunch of technical limitations: No SLI / Crossfire support. You can’t disable VSYNC. You can’t use mods. Can’t use game overlays. Can’t capture game footage using FRAPS or Bandicam, and as far as I can tell, that means you can’t livestream the game either. In the age of YouTube and Twitch, this is unforgivable.
  5. Highest prices.
  6. NO REFUNDS.

Pay more with greater financial risk to endure more hassle so you can play a game with less features on a platform away from your network of Steam friends. And that’s assuming you can get the damn thing to work at all. Microsoft has learned nothing from the Games for Windows LIVE debacle. They seem intent on making the same mistakes on an even grander scale.

Appalling.

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Footnotes:

[1] Or if Microsoft is.

[2] What if I forget it, or wind up hospitalized? Suddenly my computer is useless to the family and nobody can bring me documents.


A Hundred!5105 comments. Quick! Add another to see if this message changes!

From the Archives:

  1. Da Mage says:

    Holy Shit! I decided to see what the price was here. $96.95 (AUS) / $73.28 (US) for the STANDARD edition. So not only are we getting the console markup, we are also getting price gouged….for a DIGITAL GOOD WITH NO SHIPPING.

    Stuff that Mircosoft, never going to buy through that store if you are doing that.

    • Zerotime says:

      It would have quite literally been $20 more to download Deus Ex: Mankind Divided from the XBox One store ($99.95) than to drop by JB HiFi on my lunch break and grab the physical version ($79).

      • Da Mage says:

        I’d done similar, bought a boxed copy from JB and had it shipped to me cheaper than buying it digitally through steam.

      • Humanoid says:

        It would have been effectively *over double* the amount I paid for my PC physical copy, shipped from the UK. I paid $52.99AUD for it, with 10% back as store credit, from OzGameShop.

      • Scourge says:

        Holy shit.

        Considering I bought Deus Ex: MD not to recently for I think 39,99€ for steam. That is… wow. This… Wow.

        • Deadfast says:

          It’s the Aussie tax. Shipping all of the ones and zeros over here is really expensive. And this example is pretty cheap by the way, they’re talking AUD. Steam wanted $99.99 USD for Fallout 4 when it was released.

    • Ivan says:

      To be fair, Steam also price gouges us Aussies. Games are routinely higher priced than they are to an American customer, despite being listed in $US.

      Although, I haven’t checked this fact for a while, so I’ll do it now. Doom (2015) is currently $US 79.95 on Steam for me (in Australia). Can someone from elsewhere in the world check this please?

      • MichaelGC says:

        Currently 40 GBP for me, which Google reckons is 49.18 USD or 65.10 AUD.

        • Da Mage says:

          Valve got into a fight with the Australia Consumer Protection group, so Steam only displays costs in US dollars in Australia, means we need to do the conversion anytime we buy something.

          So according to Google, in Australia we are paying $106 AUD for something you’re paying $65 AUD for.

          And all the companies wonder why Australia is full of people pirating….I think we know who the real pirates are…..

          • Viktor says:

            IIRC, Steam lets you manually set your physical location. Which has several benefits. Of course, if you set your location to the USA, the system would push US prices for you. But I’m sure no one would ever be that dishonest.

            • Humanoid says:

              No, it uses geolocation. As do GOG, who used to let you set it manually, until the publishers used their legal clout to force them to implement geolocation.

          • Zak McKracken says:

            I know it’s “just” GOG, and they don’t have all the games, but they charge the same price all over the world, directly converted to your currency, at least for all the games I’ve looked at so far (there may be some publishers who force different prices on them, not sure).

      • Joe Informatico says:

        Currently listed for $79.99 Canadian, which Google says is currently $80.04 AUD or $60.35 USD.

      • Lanthanide says:

        They’re trying to charge $99.95 NZ here, which is $93.33 AUD.

      • Humanoid says:

        You can use steamprices.com to do price comparisons of anything on Steam.

        For Doom, it gives the following prices:
        US: $59.99
        UK: GBP39.99 = $49.10 (Granted the disparity is heavily affected by Brexit)
        EU: EUR$59.99 = $66.46
        AU: $79.99

    • Echo Tango says:

      This is often how I see books on Amazon – equal or higher price for digital version compared to the physical version. (Which I actually own instead of them being able to remotely delete / remove access to.) Luckily I can get some books DRM-free, but only because those authors have chosen to distribute on their own or with another publisher(s). I dread the future, where we have an entire generation of humans who think that paying to own something is weird. SciFi dystopia, here we come! :)

      • Joshua says:

        CDs are worse. It might cost you $10(or more) to buy a digital album, but you can usually buy a “like new” or better for about $5-$7, including shipping. You can then burn the CD to get the digital MP3s you want, and still have the CD for your car or whatever(I suppose you could sell it right back to Amazon as well).

        Paying a premium to have the music right then and there, I guess.

      • Hermocrates says:

        I don’t think paying to own something is weird, and I enjoy buying nice editions of books or CDs of stuff I really like, but I also enjoy the option of paying to use a product that takes up literally zero space. This is important when I don’t really have spare room.

        Ebooks that cost more than the physical varieties are a disturbing trend, but take heart in that they’re not really supplanting physical books anywhere near the way digital music has supplanted CDs. I think both ebooks and physical books will be around for a long time.

  2. GloatingSwine says:

    It’s the same everywhere. £49.99 here for the digital version.

    I got it for £42 physical off amazon.

    It’s a malfeature of the console digital storefronts where they’re desperately trying not to compete with and hence annoy the specialist retailers they still rely on to shift hardware.

    • Echo Tango says:

      Don’t they have enough wiggle-room in the markup on prices, to keep the brick-and-mortar guys happy, and offer the customer a good price? Like, if game X breaks even at $20 at some expected number of sales, then sell it to the end-customer at $40, and to the brick-and-mortar guys at $25, who can then sell it for $50 to their customers. Customers still get a valid choice of pay more and get a copy you definitely own, or pay less and only have an ephemeral copy. Physical stores still get to make a profit. Digital distribution still gets to make a profit. Everybody wins, right?

      • Ciennas says:

        They don’t want a shared victory. They want to pretend it’s still 1998, and we’ll never deploy those anti trust laws they all keep skirting.

        Real question: how is DRM and hardware locks not a violation of those laws? They literally are making it nigh impossible to use the product and…. I just don’t see why they continue to pour money into defending the current setup.

        It’s like watching musical chairs with a landmine. Someone is going to get nailed for being an ass.

        • Bubble181 says:

          I recently tried to play my version of Might & Magic: Heroes VI. Except, the DRM servers are off line. Which means you can still start up the game….But can’t save, don’t have access to any DLC or expansions, and can’t access any unlockables.
          I started a support ticket, and despite their own website saying “on line support was discontinued”, the response was “we’re looking into it and this will be resolved soon”.

          Thanks, Ubisoft!

  3. Xel says:

    I hate the Windows store. I used it once and swore never again. I’m the only one who uses my computer, I see no need to have a log-in/user screen, but after using the store once, and clicking that blue next button, it kept putting me to a log-in screen where I had to select the user (of only one) to get into Windows. It was irritating. And then unlinking my Microsoft account from my computer log-in was a hassle. Never again.

    • Falcon02 says:

      This is the thing that bugs me the most. Recently my Win 10 machine did something (I think something with the Anniversary update?), and came up with this Microsoft account log-in info…

      Of course I didn’t read the message closely enough (yeah my fault), and was shocked the next time I logged in and my “normal” windows password didn’t work. Realized soon what had happened and it’s been bugging me ever since…

      Even though I used a password beforehand, it bothers me a lot, that it was pretty much arbitrarily changed to another password without much input from me. I have no reason to my desktop account to anything Online, don’t care about Cortana, and don’t care about settings across platforms… it’s just a mess…

    • Robert Claypool says:

      You can set your Windows machine to automatically login: https://www.bing.com/search?q=save+windows+10+login+details

  4. chainsaw says:

    Does anyone know how well the Windows store is doing?
    So far I can’t even be bothered to buy games I was kind of looking forward to because they are exclusive to the Windows store.
    Can’t imagine Someone just stumbling across anything and buying it …

  5. Grudgeal says:

    A store with items you can`t buy. This is the Windows 10 version of the Monty Python Cheese Shop skit.

    And having said that, I decided to read the rest of your post set to the appropriate music*. It fit in remarkably well.

    * = This was the theme used in the CD and radio version, for those wondering. I couldn’t find the Flying Circus version as a pure background track.

  6. Jonn says:

    Couple things to fix:

    … when the Anniversary Update hosed my computer, I was was obliged …

    Microsoft is saying, “Oh, we see you DO have a Microsoft account after all. Once you use it here in the store, we’ll go ahead and use it when logging into the machine at start-up. From my perspective this is not a feature, but an act of aggression.

    Missing a closing quote ”

    I’m not sure ‘enjoyed’ is the right word to use here, so instead I’ll say I appreciate the article. Sounds like this could be a series – ‘From the people who brought you GFWL, more of the same’.

    Sigh. It doesn’t even look that much safer than rock climbing.

  7. Not that it invalidatea your point but it’s worth knowing that if you do set windows 10 up with an account/password you can force it to automatically log in to the desktop anyway.

    Then everyone forgets what it is because you never have to type it in, and it’s just sitting in plain text on the hard drive somewhere. But at least you don’t have to type it in

    • Echo Tango says:

      Does Windows 10 not have “guest” accounts anymore? It seems like some of Shamus’ problems could be solved with one. :)

    • Rick C says:

      If you want to do certain things, like remote desktop into your PC from elsewhere, you MUST have a password. But since your home PC probably isn’t controlled by your work’s corporate policy, you can get away with a one-character password like a space for your Windows password. And then you can use “space” as your password hint.

      • Whenever I install Windows I use a password (you have to kinda for the first/admin account).
        Then when stuff has settled and I got drivers etc. done I create a non-admin account.
        That account becomes my primary user account, and it has no password.

        It’s rare I need to do system changes, and the few times I do I don’t mind typing the password for the elevation prompt.

        Downside is that many software (that insist on elevation) tend to install stuff under the elevated admin user and not the current user so any start menu or desktop icons vanish (seemingly) since they are created for the wrong user.

        That shit ain’t hard to code for, I did so myself easily with a streaming player I developed, it handled elevation and current user without issue (and it uses NSIS).

        However the latest version simply let you install for the current user with no need for install elevation (admins will have to right click and choose Run As Administrator) do do a system wide install instead.

  8. This is making me glad I spent extra money on my laptop to have Windows 7 installed and that I stopped updating it months ago.

  9. Ryan says:

    “The point being, a Windows login is all downside for me. I can see why other people find them useful, but I see it as a needless risk and a hassle.”

    As someone who works in computer security and deals with this sort of thing constantly, my usual suggestion is as follows:
    1. Have only ONE Admin account, local to the machine.
    2. Have a separate account (or accounts, as appropriate), without Admin, for everything else. Log in for daily use under one of *those* instead of via the Admin.
    3. In *most* cases, if there’s a need for an account with no password, use the guest account function for that. Sure, some users may not be able to get by using that method, but the vast majority should be fine.
    4. Back up the admin account, and any password-login accounts (whether Micro$oft or local), in a password manager of some form, to which critical people can be granted access as necessary.

    To be fair, none of this excuses Micro$oft for its glaring errors, like trying to force you via trickery into tying your local account to a M$ one, but it does at least address some of the glaring security issues that come up often while still leaving a lot of flexibility for accounts and login options.

  10. Mike S. says:

    I don’t want a password on my computer. I want the members of my family to be able to come over here and use my computer whenever they need to, and I don’t want them to have to memorize one of my massive, complex passwords to do so. (And since this is an on-line account, I’d have to use that sort of password.) They already have their own passwords they need to memorize. My mom sometimes stops by the house to print things, and I want her to be able to do so, even if I’m not around to type in my password for her. Sure, I could put the password on a stickynote on the monitor. But then why have a password at all? And finally, if I’m having connectivity problems[1] the last thing I want is for my PC to stall and waste a bunch of my time at the sign-in screen waiting for a reply from a server that can’t be reached.

    You could have the account have a local password, and still have it not ask for it when you sign in. (Or use a short PIN locally that you could have on the monitor.) That would at least retain some protection if your computer were compromised remotely, while leaving it convenient to use for people with physical access.

    (And if you use a local account rather than tying your login to a Microsoft account, the issue of reaching a server to log in doesn’t arise.)

    • Nick-B says:

      I think he does use a local account. It seems odd that at the very end of a rant about there being no reason to have a password on a computer in which you trust every person with physical access to it with access, that he then dives off into a complaint about online accounts.

      Don’t get me wrong here, I absolutely detest having to log into accounts online (steam and various game programs are tolerated at best) for a program on my computer. I’ve heard about the “ability” to have an online MS account as your login for a pc, and want nothing to do with it.

      I also read every click-through page in an installer to uncheck the default options (no, I do NOT want to install the ask.com toolbar). And yet, glancing quickly at the picture and skimming the text, I would have been caught by the store. It insists on replacing your local login with an online one at the easy click of a single button, which is NOT something a simple online purchase should attempt to do, let alone so easily. All so it can *snicker* help you locate this “device” in case you lose it. Like I am going to forget where I misplaced this 40 pound hunk of metal my monitors connect to.

      Oh, and do we seriously need to have “Mouse: Yes” and “Keyboard: Yes” requirements for a PC game in this age? Or wait, does that mean it won’t let you use an xbox/XBONE controller for a console port game?

      • The mouse, keyboard thing is generic. if he game required a gamepad or wheel that would be listed I’m sure.

        • King Marth says:

          Also, tablets. The Windows Store isn’t looking at Steam, GOG, or Origin. It’s looking at Itunes and the Apple Store.

          • Mike S. says:

            But not terribly successfully, given how many apps and games are in the App Store and Google Play but not Windows. My Surface is an awesome laptop and great for casting to Google Chrome, but feels very much like a compromise as an actual tablet.

            (I’ve resorted to running Android apps in Chrome, or sometimes running a full Android emulator, but those are hard on the battery.)

          • Nick-B says:

            I mean, I understand the whole bit with the keyboard and mouse, but I think it’d be better off if they segregate the PC/console only games from the mobile capable games. If it starts listing PC requirements, two things every PC has nowadays is a keyboard and mouse, so it should just be assumed at this point, same with “monitors” and “speakers”.

            I know, I know, mobile+PC+console capable games will muddle up the pool. But again, if it is listed under “PC” and has “PC” requirements, then don’t assume we’re mouse-less keyboard-less fools.

  11. Ivan says:

    Shamus, did you offhandedly just say you hadn’t got an update on Windows 10? How? I had 10 for a short while, but I could not stop it from updating my graphics drivers to newer, broken ones. So I am back to 7. Do the more general OS updates actually let you say no to them or something? If so, that seems remarkably hands off of Microsoft.

    • Matt Downie says:

      Last tweet I saw, he installed the anniversary update, it broke his computer, and he then performed a successful rollback.

    • krellen says:

      Anniversary decided it was going to reboot and install in about an hour for me one day with no ability to reschedule, so I disabled Windows Update Service. Maybe I’ll get the update someday, when I can confirm it actually works like an update and not like a virus.

      • Timelady says:

        The update installed on me before I heard anything about it or could have any second thoughts–it took about 4-5 times the normal update length and made me want to tear my hair out, but my computer still works fine.

        As far as I can tell, the only thing that’s changed is the lock screen picture and the location of the power buttons.

    • ehlijen says:

      The professional edition (or whatever the more expensive version of win10 is called) does let you turn off updates I’m told.

      But even with the home version, if you you go:
      start->settings->network and internet->select network connection->advanced options-set metered connection to on

      Windows won’t check for updates automatically (as you’ve essentially told it that you don’t have the download quota for it).

      • Bubble181 says:

        Which sadly doesn’t work if you’re on a wire instead of wifi. Don’t ask me why, I AM on a metered connection but through cables, and it won’t accept that. Very annoying.

    • Grudgeal says:

      Every time I’ve tried to update windows 10 automatically the updater freezes mid-update and my computer becomes inaccessible. I finally managed to get the anniversary update through manual download but that’s created a bug where I have to reboot the machine at least once every time I start it before it lets me log in. If it wasn’t for the fact that win 10 was free, I’d have asked for my money back long ago.

  12. Cilvre says:

    “But Forza 3 Horizon is a popular title with glowing reviews,” while on the page itself for the game it is at 3 stars lol.

    • Fists says:

      The review system seems to be about as functional as the rest of the store. I’m sure it would be “very positive” or even “Overwhelmingly Positive” if it was on Steam.

  13. Simplex says:

    “No SLI / Crossfire support. You can’t disable VSYNC. ”

    This may be game specific, but you definitely can disable VSYNC in Gears of War 4 (and probably in Forza Horizon 3). And I thing GoW4 supports multi GPU.

    I am not defending Windows Store. It’s a steaming pile of dogshit which should die in a fire.

    • MichaelGC says:

      It’ll be Shamus-specific, I suspect! :D The ability to disable VSYNC in UWP games was granted by the Anniversary Update, so that’ll be why it’s a no-go for Shamus at the moment.

  14. Shoeboxjeddy says:

    Note about “max pricing.” No game store offers “AAA” games at launch for less than $60. I’m talking your Call of Duties, your GTAs, your FIFAs, your Assassines Creeds, your Total Wars, etc. Criticizing Windows Store specifically for a price hike that happened over a decade ago makes it seem like you’ve probably also made other errors in your criticism elsewhere.

    Now if Windows Store doesn’t have comparable sales after a time has passed, yeah, that’s where they would lose price parity, obviously. But unless you’re going to a literal criminal enterprise (key selling site), you’re gonna pay $60 (in the US) to get a AAA style game at launch. You’re just going to.

    Note: If you pay into the BB or Amazon loyalty programs, you can get a price break, but do people actually buy retail PC games in 2016? Also, that’s a paid sale club, not exactly a normal pricing structure.

    • MadHiro says:

      You seem to be missing what Shamus is criticizing here; it’s that the Windows Store doesn’t understand that it is a massive underdog in market share. When you’ve got essentially none of the market share, trying to increase your market share seems like a good idea. How to increase market share, then? Better user experience, larger library… these are things they are obviously not doing. Another option would be to have a more competitive price to build that market share; again, they are not doing this. The criticism is not ‘this price is unbelievably high’, the criticism is ‘this price is unbelievably high when one contemplates that their store is an also-ran when compared to the also-rans.’

      Ultimately, the criticism is that Windows is failing (again) at offering any reason to actually use their store. Nothing is sure to make Shamus blow fire out his nostrils than a company behaving stupidly for no reason in a way that costs them money.

      Not only is the Windows 10 store not offering any competition to Steam, they’re not even putting up a meaningful threat to the humble also-ran platforms. Here they’re trying to sell games to PC users by charging console markup prices. Sure, that’s what the game costs on Xbox One, and if you buy the game on one platform then you can play it on both / either. That’s a nice feature. But this doesn’t help lure people away from Steam, Good Old Games, or Origin. The rest of Microsoft figured this out decades ago: Get customers locked-in, then you can price-gouge them.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        It still feels like a tacked on criticism. “These dumb assholes have the temerity to try to sell items at market price! Who do they think they are??” You’re saying they should make a loss on every game sold and make it up on… what? Selling games is what this store sells! It’d be like if your grocery store cut prices on every food item and forgot that there would need to be items to make up the deficit with. Selling “by volume” doesn’t help if every sale is a loss…

        The key sellers can afford to do this because their keys “fall off a truck”. BB and Amazon can afford it because you paid them upfront for the privilege and many people do that and then forget to come back (aka, the gym membership money making scheme).

        • Echo Tango says:

          You’re assuming that the price being charged has zero mark-up whatsoever, so that Microsoft is barely scraping by at the price they’ve set.

          • Shamus says:

            This is a catch-all response to this entire thread:

            Yes, I’m aware that many AAA games retail for $60 on Steam. Calling it a “console markup” wasn’t really correct and I’m considering editing the post, except that will make this whole thread seem like nonsense to the people of the future.

            The thing I’m referring to is the “console tax”. When you publish to a particular closed platform, the platform owner wants a cut. Publishers typically pass this cost on to the consumer, which is why $50 games are common on the PC and super-rare on the consoles. (This is complex because publishers don’t want their console version to compete against a PC version that’s $10 cheaper, so they sometime make the prices the same. Thus the “console markup” bleeds over to the PC.)

            But Microsoft owns BOTH of the platforms that the game is on. AND they’re the publisher. They don’t need to pay themselves. Note how Valve charges really LOW prices for their own games, since they’re developer + publisher + platform holder. If Valve does this while being a market hegemon, how much MORE should MS do it as the underdog? They’ve got deep pockets. They can sacrifice some of their margin on one game in order to draw people to their platform.

            • MadTinkerer says:

              Given current market trends, a $60 price point only makes sense in the context of retail. Since most PC publishers gave up on retail a decade and change ago, if you’re charging $60 for a game, it’s because you’re trying to sell it as if it’s a retail console game.

              The last two Blizzard PC games, Starcraft II-3 and Overwatch, could be bought new for $40 each at launch. (They would prefer you to get all three SC2 games and the $60 version of Overwatch that has a few exclusive goodies, but the base price is still $40 each.) Blizzard is big enough that they don’t need Steam, but they’re pricing their products with Steam users in mind.

              Microsoft is pricing their Windows games with XBox users in mind.

              But that’s okay, because it’s super-easy to ignore Xbox completely. EDIT: I’m actually getting one free from relatives, and plan to use it primarily for Rare Replay. High definition versions of Nintendo games: that’s what I’m going to play on my XBone.

            • Adrian Burt says:

              Ok so the Windows 10 store is a huge hassle even if it doesn’t screw up my OS or become a security risk. It uses a completely different file executable from every other game in existence that drastically removes many features that are considered essential in the PC gaming zeitgeist. But at least it’s significantly cheaper on this platform because they are the publisher and the platform. That’s basically the one thing they could have had going for them, but they decided to be greedy instead.

            • Shoeboxjeddy says:

              Okay, good point. The issue is, putting on my salesmanship hat, Microsoft doesn’t want to accidentally create the perception that the games they make themselves are worth LESS than other AAA games. Like Gears is $10 less good of a shooter than Call of Duty. That’s a completely self-inflicted error, one which by avoiding it, makes you more money!

              Edit: I just had a business coursework flashback. Depending on how siloing works at Microsoft… Microsoft might actually be required to pay itself. So the assumption that Microsoft games shouldn’t be charged a fee by Microsoft might surprisingly be incorrect.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      Mafia 3 is 50 moneys.And I think mankind divided was also 50 for the basic edition,but I may be wrong with that one.Same with nba 2017.

      • Shoeboxjeddy says:

        Mafia 3 seems to be aiming for that AA class of game that rarely exists anymore. What with the wonky PC port, no review copies, and so on. Please note that my “AAA” was never a value judgment, it’s something the studios lean into. Activision would never release a new COD at $50 at $40, on any platform. Ditto EA with Battlefield or any Star Wars game (that’s not a strange gimmick of some kind). I’d be surprised if Deus Ex didn’t launch at $60 though. Doing a Steam search, it’s $60 on Steam now. So it’d be weird if it was cheaper earlier.

  15. Infinitron says:

    Shamus, it hasn’t been “Good Old Games” for a long time. It’s just GOG now.

  16. Steam came out in 2003 as a clunky, buggy beta, but was improved upon. Now it’s very easy and convenient to buy games there.

    Games For Windows Live came out in 2007 as a clunky, buggy mess, and stayed that way.

    I don’t know what I hate more, the fact that Windows 10 exists, or the sheer bloody-mindedness of it.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hold on…First:why does the microsoft store require you to login with a hotmail/other crap account?When it is a store exclusive to windows platforms,that you cannot access from other places.

    Second:if this is so that you can(maybe in the future)access it with other operating systems,why is it limited just to these?What happened to google?Heck,my backup mail for hotmail IS a google mail.What gives?

    Third:Why does the store require you to enter a password when you are entering it as a user who already had to enter a password in order to get to this in the first place,or a user who(most likely)uses just a single machine at home and therefore does not require a password in the first place?What is the point of the literally dozens of ways(including key logging) windows 10 is tracking your every step if you have to enter a password every time.

    • Demo says:

      1) The reason to log in with a Microsoft account is to link purchases between devices. One of the places the account is used (which isn’t on the button for some reason) is to log in to XBox, which is clearly required to be able to have the same purchase playable on both devices. This is presumably also why the store is full of mobile shovelware; any purchase made could be used on a Windows mobile (if anyone had one).

      2) I suspect this was more a case of misunderstanding what a Microsoft account was, but why should you be able to log in with a google account here? I don’t think anyone complains that you can’t log in to Steam with Google, or Battle.net with Facebook, so why should this be different?

      3) This actually seems like a very sensible feature. There are very few places where Windows asks for your password again, so it asking for you password here should be a clear flag that it’s doing something major which you should really pay attention to. It would be far worse if you could just click through the dialog without any indication that the login credentials to your PC have changed until you next reboot. Also, since this step occurs before payment it’s hardly far-fetched that a kid on a family PC could click through up to the payment screen before calling over the parents to pay. Having the password check here stops them making a significant change by mistake.

      This isn’t to say that it’s OK to try and make the user swap from a locally-safe account/password to an internet-safe account/password on their whole machine by default, but requiring an internet-facing account to use the store is perfectly reasonable and at least having the decency to not let you auto-pilot into screwing up your machine is frankly better than a lot of the rest of Windows 10.

    • GloatingSwine says:

      The store requires you to log in with an account because that’s how it securely stores payment information.

      Because the account stores payment information if you log into the PC with it it forces a login password. (You can engage in some registry surgery to make it not do that but then you’re allowing open access to an account with stored payment information).

      It doesn’t have to be a hotmail account, a Microsoft account can use any email address, but Hotmail/Outlook.com accounts are automatically Microsoft accounts (eg. you can also sign in to an xbox with them).

      It requires you to confirm via password entry so that people who have gained access to the machine via inattention (or children left alone with it) cannot purchase things without confirmation.

  18. natureguy85 says:

    Wow, now I REALLY wish I’d stuck with Windows 7.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      I still haven’t found a reason to regret it. You can buy systems with the latest hardware and Windows 7 installed, you just need to look for them online, and do your own research about system specs, instead of relying on retail.

      Other than on Microsoft’s websites, EVERYTHING on the Internet is compatible with Windows 7. Just about everything that’s compiled to run on Linux and Mac OS that isn’t system-specific is also compiled to run in x86. I don’t know of any games on Steam or GoG that won’t work with Win7. Maybe something on itch.io is exclusive to Win 10, but I don’t know specifically, and doubt it.

    • Philadelphus says:

      Reading articles like these make me even more glad I bailed on Windows at 7 when I decided to replace my old college laptop two years ago. This way I can retain the fond memories I have of growing up with XP and 7, without personally experiencing what came next. It’s like watching a childhood hero going senile.

  19. MadTinkerer says:

    “Okay, so you can’t buy this game. But you can buy it in a “bundle”. And those “bundles” are just the different editions of the game. I’m sure this makes sense to some database nerd at Microsoft.”

    Pretty sure it makes even more sense to one of the idiots with MBAs I keep talking about.

    “The consumer does not care how you structure your database, and the entire purpose of a store FRONT is to present the customer with a clear interface for selecting products.”

    I thought it was clear by now that Microsoft doesn’t consider consumers to be their customers. Microsoft as a company and culture caters to governments and large businesses, just like many large companies you’ve never heard of, unless you actually work with them, because they don’t have consumer divisions.

    In the 90s, Microsoft started caring more about keeping the U.S. government happy so they don’t get broken up like Ma Bell. It’s not a conspiracy or anything, just pragmatism. When that shift happened, gradually they went from caring primarily about their consumer products to eventually creating a consumer product that was so transparently designed for their big government and corporate interests instead of consumers that everyone laughed when it was revealed. So Microsoft was forced to go back to the drawing board for the XBone.

    This is why GFWL failed, and why the Windows App Store will fail, in spite of Microsoft soon trying to force it on everyone in Windows 11.

    “Microsoft is saying, “Oh, we see you DO have a Microsoft account after all. Once you use it here in the store, we’ll go ahead and use it when logging into the machine at start-up.” From my perspective this is not a feature, but an act of aggression.”

    This part was shocking, even to me. I’ve had my Hotmail account compromised before. I’m not risking my system security JUST TO PLAY GAMES FROM THE WINDOWS STORE.

    But then, I’m the guy who bought a refurbished Windows 7 machine this year just to avoid Windows 10, so the problem doesn’t directly apply to me.

    Still, now that the NSA have the Windows passwords of everyone who chose this option (just assume the NSA has access to everything in every networked database, it’s probably true), I guess that makes it easier to do National Security stuff… At the expense of the security of American citizens and the citizens of our allies’ countries, of course.

  20. Victor says:

    Some people bring up the argument that the store should not be confused with the operating system; Shamus mentioned this in the article. However, looking at the behavior of the store and its desire to mess with the OS, I am tempted to suggest that Microsoft themselves consider the store and the OS to be very tightly coupled. If that is the case, then complaints about the OS are also complaints about the store, and vice versa.

    • Echo Tango says:

      At some point, the OS and store will probably just be the same thing. Which is kind of horrifying. :S

      • Garrett Carroll says:

        The ordeal with Microsoft is that they want to charge exorbitant prices on a store that absolutely nobody uses or cares to use. If they would scale back prices (God forbid they don’t overprice shit) then they would get more people to the platform over time. People use Windows PCs, but most people use Steam to purchase games. It’s easier because a community is already there to join and the game store typically has discounts on a lot of games.

        Earlier this year, my laptop got jacked up from Windows 10, and now I have to use a Chromebook. *cue sad violin*. Chromebook is… worse.

  21. WWWebb says:

    Yes, yes. Ha ha. Look at Microsoft selling PC software badly on a platform they designed. While that is a humorous spin to the column, let’s not pretend that Microsoft gives 2 cents about PC game sales. The Windows store exists to sell things on XBoxes and Windows Phones. On those platforms, it has a monopoly (and works pretty well, BTW), so there’s no reason at all to offer discounts. They certainly don’t want to discourage locked-to-their-ecosystem hardware sales by making the PC version cheaper than the XBox version.

    If you aren’t constantly switching between a bunch of Windows devices, I’ll agree that the Win Live login is not much use….but not having a password at all on a machine connected to the internet that you (presumably) run your business from?!!?! I’m just going to hope that you have one hell of a router and firewall and you know how to configure them.

    Finally, I thought the “only available as part of a bundle” was actually a pretty clever move. What if someone didn’t already know that they could buy a deluxe or ultimate edition? This forces them to notice those upsell options. I don’t know about Forza, but there are plenty ofames on GOG and Steam where I’ve noticed the “deluxe edition” and wondered, “hmm, what does the extra money get me?”

    • tmtvl says:

      Yes, all of the 2 Windows Phones that they sold.

      It’s so weird that Microsoft is still in business despite failing so much.

      • ehlijen says:

        Corporate inertia. As said above, the end consumer isn’t what microsoft cares about.
        Take the office suite. Those are some very complex programs, each with their own file formats. As long as the corporate sector is invested into training people to use these programs to create files in those formats, microsoft has a self sustaining market share and more or less guaranteed profit.

        This doesn’t make them invulnerable to failure, but it does grant one heck of a safety net.

  22. utzel says:

    Just tested it and it’s the same with memory requirements here. RAM (8) and video (2) requirements not met, although I have 16 / 4
    This is coming from the same OS that tells me in task manger that my CPU runs at 4,52GHz right next to itself saying “max speed: 4GHz” (which is right) and that my PC is running for 1:21:45:19 now. From watching the counter I can conclude that the last two entries are minutes and seconds. I would assume it starts with days and hours, but that should be 0:1:45:19. And I power down the PC completely while not used with a switchable outlet.

    Another thing regarding the requirements: Is it just me, or is there no way to find out how big the game is in the store? A quick websearch tells me it’s 55GB, which is pretty significant when taking into account that you can’t tell Win10 where to install a specific UWP app. Yes, there is the option to tell it on which drive to put ALL your apps/games. Apart from the stupidity of that, my system only allows me to choose between my 2 SSDs, completely ignoring the 3TB HDD with plenty of space. It’s showing up everywhere else in the system just fine, just not under System -> Storage

    So yeah, the remaining urge to play the game vanished when I looked up the price. I can buy at least 2 games that I never play for that! :D

  23. tzeneth says:

    Uhh, Shamus, that pop up window after clicking buy is stupider than you think. Unless the x button in the top right of the image doesn’t work, then there are 3 buttons, 2 of them close that window, the little x and the close button.

    • The really stupid part isn’t the giant “abort” button, nor that they also kept the close button.
      It’s the lack of indication that the choice button is a button. There are some UIs in windows that does that shit too and you can only notice it’s a button if you hover over it. Good thing I use a mouse and not a touch interface (touch stuff don’t have hover, remember that UI/WEb designers!).

      BTW! A quick fix would be to keep the close button and get rid of the giant abort button, and make it more clear the choice button looks like a button, just a simple border would do.

  24. I agree the UI design is horrible. And the bundle thing makes no sense.
    Don’t they have grouping in the store database?

    Imagine this, if they release a game it gets a listing. Fine. Then a year later a “Game Of The Year” edition is released. Does that mean the primary listing no longer works and instead Standard and GOTY are listed as bundles?

    When I think bundle I think the game is, oh I don’t know, maybe BUNDLED with some other game? *shakes head sideways*

    I’m also assuming this stuff ain’t automatic at a all.
    Ideally if a GOTY edition is released and added later then the database/system should automatically group the two. And use radio buttons or similar to let you select one (and see the details for them) at the very least.

    And if both editions cost the same and the GOTY is the “complete/better” one then it’s listing should fully replace the standard one (because which customer would want the standard in that case?)

    This stuff is relatively easy. My guess is there is a ton of policy/manager decision crap in the way here somewhere.

    Also, is Forza 3 UWP or “Windows” ? Does it even say?

    • Shoeboxjeddy says:

      When you search from Xbox (and Windows store is basically identical) it works like this.

      You punch in “Shadow of Mordor”. Not the exact title but close enough. It will bring up 3 or 4 options and a “see all” button. From the options, it’s not super easy to see which is the game, which is the Game of the Year version, and which is the “Deluxe” (aka, the game + pre order bonuses that aren’t worth even a penny extra). A savvy user of the store will know to hit “see all” and then you can choose the actual SKU of the game you want. Once you have the database queued to ONLY show stuff related to that game, it’s no worse than the Steam page, but it is definitely more awkward getting to that point.

  25. Any one see the Star Citizen live demo?
    That game ain’t my thing (I don’t do multiplayer only single player which is why im disappointing by Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous)

    However, the live demo impressed me at least:
    https://youtu.be/XuDj5v81Nd0?t=5099

    Make sure to see from the start, it’s live, there isa frame counter in the upper right, there is a ambush halfway through, a infiltration, a giant sandstorm, and at the end you get to see a giant Dune’ish sandworm. And it’s all seamless from outer space to down in the dunes. Heck you can even see a spacestation they flew past from the ground and that t’s rotating. Awesome.

    They have vsync off so there is some tearing, but the FPS is over 60. There are a few visual glitches (maybe shadow related) her and there. And the demo is not entirely smooth (the guy controlling it bumps into the side of a door a few times etc.)
    But hey, it’s live.

    • Corsair says:

      The fact that there are graphical and gameplay fuckups is promising, it makes it less likely it’s a scripted demo, and might actually be representative of the final product. After the No Man’s Sky shitshow especially I’ve been fairly suspicious of Star Citizen and its claims. Hell, I was suspicious before.

  26. Adrian Burt says:

    Microsoft went down a damning path with trying to run Windows 10 like a mobile platform. While it might have made sense to them at the time to make their OS for desktop run like the OS for their tablets and smartphones, there’s a reason Apple never did that and they basically invented the modern smartphone. So Microsoft is creating a computer operating system that is trying to run like a mobile device to compete with iPhones, which are a different market, but this mobile OS is still being programmed by Microsoft, which means a bunch of nerdy software engineers who don’t understand how casual users operate, and never have. The Windows 10 Store combines all the issues of iOS with all the issues of Microsoft, and none of the benefits because it’s the wrong platform for the wrong market.

    How does a computer company that’s been in business longer than I’ve been alive still manage to fuck up like this?

  27. Kyte says:

    Just gonna point out that the guys that do the Store and the guys that do the OS are obviously not the same people. Just because they’re organized under the same brand doesn’t mean they ever talk or even see each other. Treating them as one entity is naive at best.

    And Microsoft is famous for having deep, bitter rivalries between its divisions, anyways.

  28. hoder says:

    I’ve been thinking about getting horizon too but this is giving me second thoughts.

    How did it all work out? Did the purchase go through? Were you able to keep your current windows login method? Any problems downloading/installing/running?

    Will we find out in another couple of weeks?

  29. Sartharina says:

    It seems to me that the Windows store serves the same customer base Internet Explorer did – People too new to computers to be aware of the competition.

    The Windows Store is a hate-crime against the technologically illiterate.

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