Tales of the Rampant Coyote

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Windows 8: Sucks For Gamers?

Posted by Rampant Coyote on July 26, 2012

At Kotaku, Gabe Newell and Brad Wardell have some serious reservations about Windows 8 for PC gaming:

Gabe Newell Wants to Support Linux Because Windows 8 is a Catastrophe

Three Killer Problems that Threaten Windows 8

Newell, in particular, references the rush by Apple and Microsoft to close their platforms to competitors. In the notes from his interview at Casual Connect, he said, “In order for innovation to happen, a bunch of things that aren’t happening on closed platforms need to occur. Valve wouldn’t exist today without the PC… or Epic, or Zynga, or Google. They all wouldn’t have existed without the openness of the platform. There’s a strong temptation [by Microsoft] to close the platform, because they look at what they can accomplish when they limit the competitors’ access to the platform, and they say ‘That’s really exciting.’”

(Note that Newell himself worked at Microsoft for 15 years before starting Valve).

This trend – and it’s been happening since Vista – has been worrying me, too. I am a computer gamer at heart. Yeah, I do enjoy my consoles, and my handhelds, and one day soon when I actually have a tablet I’ll probably enjoy gaming on them too.  But my truly hardcore gaming has always been at the desk. Go figure.

I doubt this will be a death knell for PC gaming or anything like that, but it does sound like they are going to make it harder – again – for independent developers. Sure, users may be able to bypass some of these problems if they know what they are doing… but would that mean our audience is limited to experienced power-users?

We’ve already got Windows giving scary warnings about running anything you’ve downloaded off the Internet, which can frighten some users off from trying out downloaded games. We’ve got idiot antivirus programs going one step further and automatically deleting said software just because it’s not yet popular and they haven’t “white-listed” it yet. Is it going to get harder yet for small, independent developers to get games onto the hard-drives of the players, or make the kinds of games PC gamers want to play?

I heard a lot of scarier things about Windows Vista before it was released, and fortunately it seems like Microsoft got a clue before release. Other than Vista being kind of a disaster in it’s own right, that is. So I can hope this is much ado about nothing. I guess we’ll see.

Filed Under: Game Development - Comments: 11 Comments to Read

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    Everyone I know who has tried Windows 8 doesn’t like it. Granted, most of the people I’ve talked to are dedicated PC power-users, and they resent being forced to use a tablet interface for a PC. Microsoft has a serious case of Apple envy, and is trying to copy the “cool” kid by going all Metro in their new logo and interface, at the expense of usability.

    Lack of usability testing is Microsoft’s main problem. It is why only every other OS release is good – they are relying on the feedback testing from the previous bad OS to cull or improve features and iron out kinks. Windows 7 is basically Vista with all the glitches and usability screw-ups fixed.

    Whatever test group Microsoft uses to test releases must be far too narrow. I mean, every OS they’ve ever released has been praised by their testing group beforehand. You think that might tell them something, since not all their releases have been good.

    I don’t have a tablet Microsoft. I don’t want a tablet. I don’t have a touchscreen monitor.

    I’m really tired of companies trying to force me to “drink the Kool-Aid” and make them my everything. Apple, Microsoft, Google, etc. I just want them to chill out, do what they do best, and stop trying to be Jack-of-All-Trades that seek to consume every area of my life.

  • Bad Sector said,

    Well, i like Windows 8 😛

    However i like Windows 8 for their desktop and their speed (that video is from the computer i’m using right now). The desktop is really clean and minimalistic and the speed is incredible – faster than any other Windows i’ve used so far.

    Gabe Newell’s problem is with the Windows Store (and Mac App Store) and i fully agree with him that this trend towards closing the platforms is bad. FFS, the new Mac OS X by default doesn’t let you run programs if they are not signed and/or downloaded from the Mac App Store! Microsoft’s SmartScreen is a similarly obnoxious “feature” which was designed more to drive people to their store than provide any sort of real security.

    Really the only “exit” from these problems is Linux which doesn’t belong to a single commercial entity – once a distribution starts becoming too harmful people will simply switch to another. Sadly at the moment there aren’t as many users on Linux as on Windows and Mac.

    And the reason is really what Gabe Newell said: compared to Windows (and even Mac), Linux lacks on gaming.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    @Bad Sector
    I have no doubt that Windows 8 has some great improvements under the hood, just as Vista did. My issue is that Microsoft always fails when it comes to usability in their first execution of anything – see Clippy, the UAC, etc. Offering people an easy help wizard is great – forcing them to use it with a mascot not so much. The UAC is wonderful under the hood, but in Vista it was so intrusive most people desperately Googled how to shut it off their first day with the OS. In Windows 7, Microsoft ironed out issues with the UAC and now most people keep it on.

    I predict a backlash over the Metro interface and Windows Store, but I believe Microsoft will back-off and backtrack like it always does – especially when major software companies start jumping ship. Hence, Windows 9 will probably be the next great OS from Microsoft.

  • getter77 said,

    Aside from Linux, in theory, Haiku and some stuff in the land of Amiga that have been slow burning all this while could suddenly become rather effective in this space should some talented folk hop aboard to get them up to speed as both are very much “desktop” but lacking in devpower compared to the rest.

    Things don’t look promising for Win8 though, and contrary yo the popular threats we very likely won’t be able to just stay on 7 “forever”, so one or more things simple has to give sooner or later, the problem being who all might get caught in the crossfire as it were and get snuffed out not unlike how this generations big HD console push had many a casualty to it in terms of closures and such.

  • Windows 8 Will Be A Catastrophe For Gamers | Stropp's World said,

    […] sure, but for how long? As has been said elsewhere, it appears that MS has been moving to close up Windows since […]

  • hexagonstar said,

    Linux as a main platform and finally throwing Windows into the trashcan … a dream! The problem with Linux currently (for me) is that it lacks a great deal of software, not only games. For example if I’m not coding I often do audio stuff on the computer but can you name any single popular DAW software and audio plugins that are available for Linux? There are also many other apps that I would have to drop when switching to Linux, many smaller, helpful tools, mane emulators that aren’t available for Linux or simply aren’t as well supported and feature-rich on Linux.

    Hopefully in the near future this will change because there are many things that are fundamentally wrong about the Windows system.

  • Rick C said,

    Have you tried Windows 8 yet? The desktop is still there. Today OkI play, ed Minecraft, Terraria, and Half Life 2, with no problems. Metro complaints are irrelevant to gaming.

  • Bad Sector said,

    I’m not sure what you are looking for, but i had a friend of mine who is into sound stuff much more than me, telling me how awesome Ubuntu Studio is. Ubuntu Studio is basically regular Ubuntu with some sound-specific setup and a low latency sound daemon (Jack i think) that allows the whole system to be used for sound production by connecting things together.

    You may want to download some live DVD/USB version of that and try it. I think not depending on a single program to do everything might be a better idea.

    @Rick C:
    People do not complain about Windows 8’s current status but about what they seem to be pushing towards. The message isn’t “You locked Windows! You bastards!” but “You bastards! Don’t even consider locking Windows!”. Or something like that.

    Even though the desktop is still there and has received a few updates, the vast majority of the work in Windows 8 is clearly on the Metro side which is as locked as it could be (i can’t download and play any Metro game from the Internet from example, like i can in Windows and programs are saved under weird names under some weird obscure hidden folder that you do not have access to until you mess with system and file settings!).

    That is a clear message from Microsoft about where they want to go and some people dislike that and put their own replies.

  • hexagonstar said,

    @Bad Sector I was talking more about popular audio software that isn’t available for Linux. Stuff like Ableton Live, Reason, Cubase, Logic, etc. and all those VST plugins. I’ve bought Reason 6 not too long ago, switching to Linux now would mean that purchase was for nothing. There is of course a lot of other mandatory software missing. For example for my job I often need Adobe CS and nope, Gimp, won’t cut it there. If Linux want’s to become popular on a broad scale it has to catch up a lot, not only games.

  • mire said,

    He’s just complaining about issues a more closed platform will pose for Steam going forward. Note that the only devs who have said anything bad about “gaming” on Win8 are those who sell their games directly. They don’t want to give MS a cut of each sale, and they don’t want to deal with users complaining that their games won’t run due to some security issue. Linux is a dead end, unless they’re going to release their own distro. Even then. Look at how few games are available through Steam on OS X, despite their support.

  • OmegaZeroKiller said,

    Obviously this version of Windows lacks productivity for conventional computers that do not have a touchscreen. It is sad; if only that they released a Service Pack 2 for Windows 7 it would sound way better than this. That ridiculous screen is driving me crazy. I don’t want to say this, but I think that people with some common sense and rely heavily on Windows would skip this piece of…software that is for tablet and not Windows anymore.