Microsoft hasn't always had the best relationship with their PC gaming audience - with services like Games for Windows Live doing more harm than good in the past, and numerous other drawbacks of yesteryear, it's quite reasonable for PC gamers to be skeptical of the company's latest claims of parity between the PC and Xbox versions of their upcoming games.
Microsoft had a massive presence at this year's E3 PC Gaming Show, where they showed off titles like Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, Sea of Thieves, and more. Right after the show, Tom's Guide sat down with Kevin Unangst, senior director for PC gaming at Xbox, to talk about Xbox's goals for making the gaming experience more consistent across both the Xbox and PC platforms.
The company says two of its upcoming titles, Sea of Thieves and Forza, are not simply being developed as ports for Windows 10, rather both the Xbox and PC versions are being developed in parallel, with the end goal being identical functionality and performance across the board. Whether Microsoft can pull this off or not remains to be seen.
There are a number of challenges to overcome when attempting to develop identical products for both platforms - not the least of which is the near-endless amount of variation between PC hardware configurations. Aside from simply lowering the minimum system requirements as the Forza team plans to, to solve this problem (and presumably to establish a benchmark upon which they can develop future titles) Kevin mentioned that the company is taking a look at some of the common trends among the PC gaming audience's machines.
"We look at things like DOTA and League of Legends, and there's a fairly mainstream PC that the vast majority of audiences play on," Kevin stated. "It's [an Intel Core i5] machine. We're seeing movement toward discrete GPUs, but [gamers] even play on integrated graphics cards."
He also briefly mentioned that their goal is to keep their games scalable, so that high-end gaming rigs can take full advantage of their hardware. "You want to throw in dual GPUs, we'll take advantage of it," Kevin commented.
Again, while Microsoft under Satya Nadella has established a bit of goodwill with the PC gaming community recently - thanks to the release of the Xbox Play Anywhere initiative - their track record supporting PC gaming isn't squeaky clean. The only way to know whether Microsoft will be able to keep their promises this time around is to wait for games like Sea of Thieves to release and see for ourselves.