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Windows 8's hidden dangers to game developers
Windows 8's hidden dangers to game developers
October 16, 2012 | By Staff

October 16, 2012 | By Staff
More: Console/PC, Indie, Business/Marketing

The Metro interface in Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 will, for the first time, close itself off from many developers, locking submissions behind an approval process akin to Apple's App Store.

Some of its rules are prohibitive, and many games that would otherwise thrive on Microsoft's open Windows platform will never be given a chance. Thankfully, Windows 8 offers a "desktop mode," which lets users switch to old-style Windows and run whatever code they want. As long as that mode remains, we're all safe?


Not so fast, says game industry veteran Casey Muratori in Gamasutra's latest feature. Looking back through history, he predicts that PC developers will eventually abandon the classic Windows desktop for Windows 8's modern UI and store, just as they abandoned MS-DOS for Windows to take advantage of graphics hardware innovations.

In a future dominated by Windows Store-only distribution, where all applications must meet Microsoft's certification requirements, though, many of the highest-profile games we see today wouldn't receive approval for release. Skyrim, for instance, would be denied certification.

"This is not speculative; it is certain," says Muratori. "Skyrim is a game for adults. It has a PEGI rating of 18." Windows 8's app certification requirements prohibit games with adult content and ratings higher than PEGI 16/ESRB Mature.

"That's the end of it. No Skyrim for the Windows Store, unless of course the developers go back and remove all the PEGI 18-rated content," adds Muratori. That restriction would also rule out games like Mass Effect 3, Assassin's Creed 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and Borderlands 2 from releasing on Windows Store.

Muratori talked more in-depth about what Windows 8's closed distribution means for developers and how it stifles software innovation in Gamasutra's newest feature.

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Dave Ingram
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I have heard nothing but horror stories concerning Windows 8. I think it's silly that Microsoft has essentially said "we're going to ruin everything with metro, but you can still do things the proper way if you want!"

I predict we are going to see the OS giant take a big fall with this one. This will be worse than the Windows ME disaster, and there will be a huge opportunity for a new PC OS leader. Wasn't Google talking about a Chrome OS some time ago? Now would be a good time to dust that project off.

Mark Ludlow
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Chromebooks (Machines running ChromeOS) have been out for a year or so now, they just don't really get much press or advertising.

Lorenzo Gatti
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Updated Microsoft development tools for Windows 8 are late, which is some of the worst evidence of technical failure and/or internal conflict and/or indecisiveness Microsoft ever gave.

I don't know what are the reasons and plans behind the stop-calling-it-Metro UI and shell integration framework and behind the unrealistic app store, but it is pretty obvious that there are an Apple Envy faction and a conservative faction within Microsoft, and both seem rather clueless.

Jose Teran
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Not so good news for those of us who want to dev games.

Well, it's time to look for linux now.

Alan Rimkeit
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Wow, the cements the issue. I am never ever getting the hunk of steaming cow dung named Windows 8. Windows 8 seems to look worse than ME and that is saying a lot. O.O

I really feel for the game devs though. This is terrible news. I guess ol Gabe Newell was right. Linux it is!

Groove Stomp
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That's a very interesting read by Casey, and I strongly recommend everyone to give it a thorough reading!

It certainly doesn't paint a pretty picture for Windows, but we do have options.
I'm sure Microsoft will ease off on the closed ecosystem somewhat; but it's funny at this point that Apple's OSX seems more open than the future Windows Metro offerings are promising to be.
I say this as someone who is not even slightly impressed with the way Apple does things.

Austin Farmer
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I have used Windows for my whole life, but if Microsoft follows through with this Im jumping ship and finding a new OS.

Daniel Burke
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I guess it will just push more people towards Linux. Steam coming to Linux is a fairly high profile product and a surprising number of games work under it already through Wine so it may tip the balance a bit more.

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Lol this "story" is such a joke.

You can install anything you like.

You only need to follow the rules if you want to use Microsoft's App store, the EXACT same thing Apple and Google ask you to do.

Alexey Badalov
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Unless you are a registered developer, you can only get Metro apps through Microsoft's store. Moreover, Windows RT devices can only run Metro apps — they offer no desktop mode.

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>Unless you are a registered developer, you can only get Metro apps through Microsoft's store.

You are not limited to Metro apps, you can install any program you like.

>Moreover, Windows RT devices can only run Metro apps — they offer no desktop mode.

When we can run Skyrim on a tablet this may become an issue. However, RT is clearly intended for mobile devices and is not going to affect intel based devices.

Platform is nothing to do with it, as we can see from Apple's behavior. Conflating the Windows platform with App Store restrictions is just a brain logic failure.

This is just standard internet scaremongering, overreactions to perceived slights.

Arturo Nereu
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I think this is a great opportunity to push the cloud gaming scene. Why do we need to install a game if we can play on a browser. Still, there are some years before we can entirely switch but, I see an opportunity here.

Mihai Cozma
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This "Win8 vs game devs" thing is plain stupid.

Valve started it because well, they are an app store on Windows so their business is directly affected as some devs would rather deploy their games on Windows through the Win8 store rather than Steam, but that is Valve's problem.

Win 8 offers two interfaces: a content consumer interface, which is the formerly called Metro interface, and a content creator interface, which is the already existing desktop mode. As soon as you install an app or an old style application, it will appear in the Metro interface, either as an app or as an icon, so the visibility is not a problem. The user won't even notice when it will launch a game that it switched to desktop mode or something.

Also "Microsoft killing desktop mode" is an aberration, because there is no way for content creators to create content (for MS platform) but in desktop mode.

Paul Laroquod
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"Yes I know the farmer's building a fence all around this field, but there is still a gate," says one horse to another. "Let's not worry about it until they close that gate. You are plain stupid for talking about this."

Ian Hamblin
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I agree with arturo. We will adapt and find other ways to get our games out to people that are not as restrictive. I'm going to enjoy watching the windows 8 saga develop. I cannot help but feel it is distastrous. Perhaps Microsoft strongly believe that desktop machines will no longer be around 5-10 years from now, which judging by how fast mobile and tablet technology is coming along, may be a possibility.

I struggle to see how we are going to be using programs like 3ds max on an operating system designed for tablet. I guess maybe we'll all be using linux in 5-10 years. It'll be interesting to see.

Michael Rooney
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This makes sense as the apple app store has no games on it either.

Paul Laroquod
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I don't understand this. Why does this post exist? I already read this on this site, why do I need another post, linking to it again? There are some things that I don't get about this website.

Robert Ling
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Windows 8 seems to be what Vista was to XP, in comparison to developer & gamer friendliness with Windows 7. I already had no desire to look at Windows 8, and everything I've heard recently about developing on/for it has done nothing but make sure I won't even consider it for development. I stuck to XP for the same reason when Vista came around, and will do the same with 7 once 8 hits the market.

Maurício Gomes
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My personal machine is still running XP (when I boot windows, that is... recently I've been using mostly Linux at home and Mac OS at work)

Bob Johnson
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Metro feels like MS found a color of paint that they really liked. And then painted all their products with it like a kindergartner might do.

I don't know. I gotta try it first. But I have Windows only on desktops and not seeing the use for Metro.

The store actually might be pretty sweet. yeah one hand it will get MS too much control and make the place feel saccharine like your local mall, but nice to not have to go look for stuff on the internets and go to weird sites and wonder whether there is spyware on what you are downloading or if you're downloading the right thing or even just finding the download page on some site.

As long as they keep the door open then ...everything is good. I feel like Linux is a gun to their head in this dept. Not overnight, but nothing like a little motivation to make a Linux distrib more consumer friendly.

Jed Hubic
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Not bad news to game devs, one more additional channel to publish games in. The Metro apps are also designed to be touch compatible so really if you want to go that route do it. Nothing is stopping a dev from publishing a game to Steam or providing a download through their own site. If some hack dev says they won't dev their game on Windows because of Win8, most of the time they weren't going to finish a game anyways.

Sometimes this industry is such an inward circle jerk I find it astonishing. We act like we want innovation and new ways to reach out to people and expand the medium, yet when we have to use some brain power we just crap on something new.

People do realize Windows 8 doesn't prevent them from playing any of the games they can in Win7 right? And please no "doom and gloom" scenarios of a world where games are monitored by the Gestapo that is Microsoft, etc, etc. Completely pathetic. For once people, just be excited for something and actually TRY it and understand it. This whole Windows 8 and pc games debate, blows my mind.


ian stansbury
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I feel this will be....Largely ignored. Most people aren't going to upgrade to this, it just win7 with a new interface. Maybe ( and this is a big maybe ) win7 price will come down, creating even less of a reason to go to 8. New laptops may come with it, which will suck for those people.

Plus, is anybody going to get a windows tablet? I have yet to even meet anyone with either the phone or the tablet. I think it will be largely ignored by developers as there is no money currently to be had from spending the time to port your games over. If microsoft did this 6 years ago it would have been brilliant, but I feel they're to late to the party.

ian walker
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graphics hardware is now dangerously powerful, and has lead to the 'democratisation of computation', so much so that it is entirely possible that a citizen scientist can create IP that is true creative destruction...

and not under the control of the robber barons and their spies...

this is intolerable to the perennially pathologically insecure 1% and so we now are being dragged towards a use case where you can only play when bound in thrall to the barons drip; and only if the barons have a minion constantly rummaging around in your trousers as you play... they play to win while you play to fail - like a poker machine up your fundamental posterior orifice as it were...

and if they find any interesting IP while youpay/theyplay? WoOt!

I want to play and do stuff unlolested - I want internet bondage at my discretion, not be bound to it and have my stuff held to ransom by the barons and their minions

i don't want the content mafia to rule the world.

Matthew Jackson
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good a few airsoft guns from the games that i play as well and its a lot of fun