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- Halo Wars: Definitive Edition
When Microsoft announced in 2015 that it would be increasing its efforts on PC going forward, many had a feeling there would be a catch. After all, this is the company that said the same thing a decade ago before inventing Games For Windows Live, something many consumers consider an abomination.
As we would come to find out, that catch would be that instead of supporting market-leading platforms like Steam and GOG, it would only publish on the Microsoft Store. Not only would this enforce Windows 10 exclusively, but it would introduce quirks that have long been ironed out by its more veteraned competition.
Despite its visual beauty, the Microsoft Store is rudimentary and bug-prone. More importantly, it hasn't improved much during the past two years. Point of purchase issues have been bothersome for many PC gamers who have given it a chance, while its lack of parity in regards to features that even EA Origin and UPlay offer has made it feel like a step back from the competition.
After more than a year of feedback, Microsoft realigned its strategy by pushing Quantum Break onto Steam. It wasn't an easy decision to release its platform control to Valve, but paid off by nearly doubling PC sales with over 110,000 copies sold on Steam.
For the past few months Microsoft hasn't advanced from its initial push, figuratively stalling on the beachhead. However, today it was announced that Halo Wars: Definitive Edition is not only coming to PC, but to Steam.
Although it might not appear as such to the average consumer, this is a monumental effort that not only confirms that Microsoft's first-party support on Steam wasn't just a 'one and done', but also the first time a Halo game will be published without Xbox Live server support.
The original Halo Wars debuted to remarkable success despite belonging to one of the industry's most struggling genres (RTS). Selling over 2.5 million copies on a single platform, and achieving a respectable 82 Metascore, it performed well enough to incentivize a sequel.
Halo Wars 2 didn't enjoy nearly the same kind of reception when it released in February, with sales falling short of 500,000 units. There are many factors that played into this, with many regarding its Microsoft Store PC exclusive platform release as a contributing factor.
Microsoft's biggest titles are well-suited for PC, and recently have been supporting the platform at half-way measure. As a high skill cap FPS, Halo could prove to be even more popular on PC than on Xbox where there is a larger audience of hardcore shooter enthusiasts. Some of the best racing wheels on the market are PC exclusive, an important factor for a racing simulator like Forza Motorsport. Meanwhile, open-world survival games like Sea of Thieves have regularly dominated sales charts on Steam.
Yet, none of these three franchises have supported Steam. That is, until now with Halo Wars: Definitive Edition, a well-received game with a budget price point.
This is a power play by Microsoft, one that few ever thought would be possible given Microsoft's routinely inclusive strategies with its Xbox brand. But it won't go anywhere unless it achieves the numbers it aspires to, and because of that Microsoft's future investment on Steam requires gamer support. So, if you like what Microsoft is doing, consider putting money down and showing once and for all that it can be a leader in the PC space provided it aligns itself with the desires of gamers.
Halo Wars: Definitive Edition will release on April 20th for $19.99.