Microsoft has been touting its Universal Windows Platform (UWP) for gaming this past week with varying degrees of success and disappointment. You can count Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney as one of those disappointed. He battered the UWP initiative in a column posted by the Guardian on Friday, saying it is "the most aggressive move Microsoft has ever made" and that "we must fight it."
The declaration to fight against Microsoft by Sweeney is surprising, as Epic Games has been a long-time partner of the company. They worked together on the Gears of War series before the console maker purchased the rights to the franchise and began developing Gears of War 4 internally at its new studio, The Coalition. Microsoft has also been a supporter of Epic's ubiquitous Unreal Engine.
Sweeney accuses Microsoft of using UWP to force game developers into a closed Windows Store ecosystem by granting access to certain Windows features only if you take part in the initiative.
"Microsoft has launched new PC Windows features exclusively in UWP, and is effectively telling developers you can use these Windows features only if you submit to the control of our locked-down UWP ecosystem. They're curtailing users' freedom to install full-featured PC software, and subverting the rights of developers and publishers to maintain a direct relationship with their customers," he declared.
The Universal Windows Platform was developed by Microsoft with the goal of making it easy to port games and applications between different Windows 10 devices, including the Xbox One, PCs, smartphones, and tablets.
However, Sweeney contends the actual result is to create a walled garden where only developers licensed by Microsoft can distribute their games on the Windows 10 platform. There are additional restrictions on developers selling codes to their games outside of the Windows Store, meaning Epic Games would not be able to sell codes to one of its own Windows 10 games from the Epic Store or third-party resellers such as GreenManGaming.
Sweeney called on Microsoft to make UWP games and apps just as open as those created with the Win32 API to open up the ability to sell UPS games outside of the Windows Store and allow users, developers, and publishers to engage directly with each other.
Microsoft Vice President of Windows Kevin Gallo responded to Sweeney's accusations by telling the Guardian, "The Universal Windows Platform is a fully open ecosystem, available to every developer, that can be supported by any store. We continue to make improvements for developers; for example, in the Windows 10 November Update, we enabled people to easily side-load apps by default, with no UX required."
The ability to side-load apps is one feature that Sweeney claimed Microsoft had turned off by default and buried the ability to turn on deep in the user interface.
Meanwhile, Phil Spencer responded to the growing discussion around Sweeney's comments with the following Twitter post.Update: Sweeney responded to Spencer's statements on Twitter with the following. Microsoft has come under fire over the past week due to the poor performance of Gears of War: Ultimate Edition as a Windows 10 app. Additionally, UWP has been criticized for missing features such as no support for SLI graphics cards, the inability to turn off features such as V-sync, the inability to enable other modes outside of borderless fullscreen, no support for mods, and more.
Xbox Head Phil Spencer addressed these concerns in a recent PC Gamer interview, where he stated these issues will be addressed in future updates.
[Image via Epic Games]