Tim Sweeney is best known for being the founder of Epic Games, the studio that developed Gears of War – a hugely successful franchise published by Microsoft. Despite his connections with the console manufacturer, Mr. Sweeney has often been outspoken with regard to his criticism of Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, claiming that “Microsoft wants to monopolise games development on PC” in an interview with The Guardian in March. In a more recent interview with Edge in Edge issue #296, Tim Sweeney once again did not hold back in his criticism of the project. He had this to say:

“The trouble started when Microsoft began shipping some PCs and regular Surfaces that were so locked down that you couldn’t run Win32 apps; you could only run apps that had been bought from their store. That is a complete travesty. With Windows 10 they removed some more capabilities. They’ve been able to do this via some sneaky PR moves. They make a bunch of statements that sound vaguely like they’re promoting openness, but really they’re not promising anything of the sort.

The risk here is that, if Microsoft convinces everybody to use UWP (Universal Windows Platform), then they phase out Win32 apps. If they can succeed in doing that then it’s a small leap to forcing all apps and games to be distributed through the Windows Store. Once we reach that point, the PC has become a closed platform. It won’t be that one day they flip a switch that will break your Steam library – what they’re trying to do is a series of sneaky manoeuvres. They make it more and more inconvenient to use the old apps, and, simultaneously, they try to become the only source for the new ones.

Slowly, over the next five years, they will force-patch Windows 10 to make Steam progressively worse and more broken. They’ll never completely break it, but will continue to break it until, in five years, people are so fed up that Steam is buggy that the Windows Store seems like an ideal alternative. That’s exactly what they did to their previous competitors in other areas. Now they’re doing it to Steam. It’s only just starting to become visible. Microsoft might not be competent enough to succeed with their plan, but they’re certainly trying”.

Tim Sweeney is currently working on Paragon, Epic Games’ latest project, due for release on Microsoft Windows and PS4 in 2016.

UWP

  • DaFoo

    Tim Sweeney sounds like an ignorant dope.

  • tech guru

    Tim is an idiot.

  • The Unassuming Local Guy

    There’s not enough aluminum on Earth to make all the hats needed by Sweeney and everyone else crying 24/7 about Windows 10. Do people like Sweeney and the people mindlessly sharing this story not understand that 1.) Microsoft could not legally get away with something like this, and 2.) that Microsoft is fully aware that PC gaming is one of the few things Windows really has left? That they’re essentially desperate at this point to NOT infuriate PC gamers and bury themselves even worse?

    I’m sick of all the baseless fearmongering. This is nothing more than the open-ended conjecture and opinions of some random @sshat whose only claim to fame is being the founder of a company that produced a mediocre third-person Xbox shooter. Show me someone with some actual citations to back up this malarkey, and maybe I’ll listen.

    • Articuno76

      Windows 10 is being distributed for free, so how exactly are MS planning to make money if not through controlling software purchases? Look at their entire approach to Win 10 and even the Xbox: It’s all about trying to lock the user into their eco-system and make bank from there. Closed platform/control has been MS’s end game for ages now.

      You can call it conjecture, but when it’s conjecture about a focused business initiative that has been running concurrently through all of MS’s products lines for several years straight you need to wake up and smell the coffee.

      MS totally could legally get away with this. What obligation do they have to ensure Steam works well on their OS? That’s Valve’s job, not MS’s. And MS is wholly aware that PC gaming is one of the things Windows has going, so of course they are going to make an attempt to monopolise and control it.

      If you want evidence look at the entire business model MS runs and has done for years and has tried multiple times (often ending in failure), now look at all the design decisions in Win 10 and UWP that are designed to take control from users and place it under MS’s jurisdiction.

      The difference is that MS isn’t the biggest game in town in the PC gaming space, so it can’t do what Apple has done for ages now without attracting the ire of everyone their moves to a closed system

      • Eagles83

        All platform holders want to lock you down to their system. Hell Sony announced as much a while back for the reason it is creating the Neo as it doesn’t want to lose people going to PC where they don’t earn any revenue from game sales. This is how they make money. Same goes for the ebook industry where books from the Barnes & Noble store aren’t compatible with the Kindle, etc. In a perfect world this wouldn’t exist but unfortunately it does. Having said that I don’t see the UWP platform being this evil thing that Tim Sweeney does. To me it just provides a unified code base where apps could easily be shared across devices which is a great thing. It reduces the amount of time and development costs to push out an application to the various platforms.

        Besides Microsoft can only control the applications that they create. They could lock them down if they want but they could never do the same thing with 3rd party apps or games. If they ever tried it would ruin their OS business. People could always go back to using an older Windows installation or use a different OS entirely. This would be much easier for consumers and developers to do so now with api’s such as Vulkan that are not OS dependent. It would make no sense from a business perspective for Microsoft to do this as they would stand to lose much more than they would gain. For now this is squarely in the tin foil hat arena. If you want to criticize Microsoft for something, locking down DX12 to Windows 10 or the Windows 10 data collection issues are fair game.

        • Articuno76

          They don’t stand to lose much if the OS is free to begin with and Windows is the de facto place to game on PC. Keep that in mind. Especially if the change is insidious/gradual enough not to rattle a significant number of people or cause a big enough conflagration.

          For PC gamers the only real alternative or form of protest they have is to move over to Linux… which limits to them to a really small portion of the games out there (meaning they are unlikely to do that). i.e. most people won’t feel they have a viable alternative.

          You are right on with the Kindle comparison. But the difference is that the flexibility that stems from openness on Windows has been an established part of it for ages — that’s why the being locked into Amazon’s ecosystem (or Apple’s for that matter) is different from being locked into MS’s: Amazon’s has pretty much always been that way.

          Heck, consoles are closed but no one complains about that precisely because they’ve always been closed and games/communities and an entire culture haven’t built up around their openness.

          “Besides Microsoft can only control the applications that they create. They could lock them down if they want but they could never do the same thing with 3rd party apps or games.”

          This is true, but what makes MS threatening here is their ability to position UWP (with its shortcomings) as the default game store by leveraging their position as the OS platform holder and placing it at the fingertips of the millions of lay users — this in turn would make it easier to secure exclusives to UWP and things would spiral from there with other forms of control on all levels from controlling the software and how it is used to steadily altering their terms until publishers are forced to sign exclusivity deals (no doubt it will start with clauses for ‘timed exclusivity’ and MS will keep pushing for better terms until they kick up too much of a stink to progress any further).

          That doesn’t seem like a deal publishers are going to take with the UWP of today, but MS is playing the long game, and its the long term people are worried about when you have a company that has openly shown hostility towards openness and has no goodwill.

          Keep in mind it isn’t regular gamers that they would need to appeal to to pull this off, but plain old mr. casual (and there are far more mr. casuals out there than regular joe gamers).

      • Cigi

        So you mean that MS is trying to do what Apple and Steam is dooing right NOW!
        I welcome the competition – and everything else is just pure hyperbole with no facts to back it up.

        And well Epic is giving away their Unreal 4 engine so what is the difference. Every company is trying to do well in this new world where owning the platform is important. But you still have to do good because there are other choises – google or apple. Which none of them are any better – just the oposite in my opinion. They just dont have the legacy of MS but everything is changed now. Apple and google is the new MS.

        • Articuno76

          I preemptively addressed your points about how this is similar to what Steam or Apple are doing, but also fundamentally/perceptually different.

          Epic giving away their engine is a different thing altogether, and is a choice for developers in a world where many engines are free and many larger publishers build their own. Truth be told I’m not sure what relevance it has to me as a consumer or this topic.

      • The Unassuming Local Guy

        “Windows 10 is being distributed for free, so how exactly are MS planning to make money if not through controlling software purchases?”

        It’s being offered as a *free upgrade*, to *Windows 7 and Windows 8 users only*, for *one year* after the OS’s release. Anyone not on 7 or 8 or who doesn’t update by this month has to pay up. I already had to pay for a new copy of 10 on my newly-built gaming PC. Got it on sale for like $75.

        But even if they truly were giving away Win10 100% for free, they have various other avenues of income. They have their various software suites, they have their (very successful) line of Surface tablets and the new Surface Book. I mean, unless you really haven’t been paying attention to tech news for the past 4-5 years, Microsoft is desperately trying to branch away from the OS game. They used to live solely on the revenue generated by Windows, but the days of Operating Systems as big money-makers is over, and MS realizes this. They’re trying desperately to change their business model, as well to as to change their (much-reviled) business tactics and habits in general, but all it’s done is invite even more hate, more paranoia, more cries that they’re trying to take over the world and sh!t on everyone’s dog.

        “Nor are they small enough that they are can be seen as innocently taking control of the sale of their own games (as Epic, Ubisoft and Origin have done).”

        That’s precisely what they’re doing, they’re just handling the implementation of games sold via their own marketplace differently. Hence: fearmongering.

        “As for citations. I’m not sure what you are expecting here”

        I’m expecting something better than the paranoid ramblings of a relative nobody. This is literally just the opinion of some guy who had a hand in founding the company that created the Unreal Engine and a mediocre third-person shooter series. The man doesn’t even understand the difference between Windows and Windows RT, or the fact that of course a version of Windows written for ARM isn’t going to run Win32 apps. He thinks that an ARM device running a version of Windows designed for ARM devices has been “locked down” by MS because it can’t run desktop Win32 apps. Let that sink in. The fact that the man is this ignorant in regards to the subject about which he is speaking renders the rest of his arguments and statements highly suspect. As I said, show me someone with actual knowledge and real clout saying this, and I’d be more inclined to believe it.

        “Does the company that tried to do that strike you as one that is interested in an open platform?”

        Does the fact that said company listened to fan feedback and changed course strike you as one that is interested in committing suicide by pissing off one of the few userbases it has left?

        “There’s no profitability in being open, and no threat of losing customers when your only competition is another closed platform (Mac OS, because for usability reasons the average consumer isn’t going to consider Linux as an alternative).”

        Incorrect: Their competition in this case is consoles. Enough former PC Gamers have gone for consoles already that a nudge like this on MS’s part might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back, ending PC gaming forever. They don’t have to worry about PC gamers jumping to OS X or Linux if MS pisses them off enough; they’ll have to worry about them buying a PS4 and simply getting their fix there instead.

        Sweeney’s assertions only hold water if you assume, first of all, that Microsoft are very, very dumb. Everyone assumes they’re going to do this, or that they’re going to force users who have already bought their OS to also pay monthly/yearly fees, amongst other things, and I’m sure MS would do all of this… if they decided they were ready to commit financial suicide. PC Gaming is one of(if not THE) only thing thing Microsoft still dominates. I assure you they are painfully aware of this fact, as well as the fact that it wouldn’t take very much effort to piss off what few PC Gamers that are still out there to the point that they’ll either jump to a new OS(OS X or Linux) or, more likely as I said, to a new platform entirely(PS4/Nintendo NX).

        • Articuno76

          “It’s being offered as a *free upgrade*, to *Windows 7 and Windows 8 users only*, for *one year* after the OS’s release. ”

          We all know that one year is going to magically get extended. Just how when you decline your Win 10 upgrade for free it goes on and keeps asking you about it anyway. MS will push it as them being benevolent and extending an offer.

          “That’s precisely what they’re doing, they’re just handling the implementation of games sold via their own marketplace differently. Hence: fearmongering.”

          Not fearmongering if there is precedent and a significance difference in corporate culture and outlook. This is a company that already looked at software in terms of licenses and licensees at a time when the consumer didn’t (hence the Xbox One issue). They will try it again when the market perception of software ownership changes: Mark my words.

          Remember MS were caught performing anti-competition practices with their web browser, until they were forced to offer alternatives. The genuine fear is MS will attempt to leverage UWP the same way until it just becomes the norm (through the general consumer, not the dedicated game — but eventually working its way up, faults and all, into ubiquity).

          It doesn’t matter if people don’t want to use it NOW or that the majority would prefer Steam NOW. MS has the power to change that, and the change wouldn’t be for the better until UWP becomes a better platform than Steam (which it isn’t and because of MS corporate outlook wont change in many respects because MS doesn’t want to yield control over to the consumer, because you can’t monetise something as easily if the consumer has a great deal of control over it).

          MS exerting their control over the GFWL system. How well do GFWL games work now that MS has dropped that? Is that a company you want to trust? There’s no good reason to trust them.

          “Does the fact that said company listened to fan feedback and changed course strike you as one that is interested in committing suicide by pissing off one of the few userbases it has left?”

          There’s a lot wrong here:

          i) MS didn’t have a product out and already being user by millions when the Xbox One gaffe caught them. If they had and some months/years on they wouldn’t change to an open system of the kind we see today. Remember, they flat out denied it would even be possible to switch Xbox One to a relatively more open system before release (until they eventually reneged).

          MS are evil: And before you tout the truism that ‘all companies want to make money’, I mean evil in a commercial sense i.e. they have no qualms about selling things with win-lose propositions if they can get away with it as opposed to a win-win proposition.

          ii) The fundamental difference is that there is no alternative to Windows for PC gaming, and no console gaming isn’t it: PC gamers not getting the advantages of PC gaming (because the rise of UWP might render them mute) aren’t going to transition over to another platform that lacks said advantages, that makes no sense.

          “Incorrect: Their competition in this case is consoles. Enough former PC Gamers have gone for consoles already”

          I see absolutely zero evidence of this. Everything points to the opposite happening with PC libraries becoming more diverse year by year.

          iii) There’s a huge difference between rolling up with a proposition with a load of disadvantages (like the original Xbox One) and trying to sell that (which won’t work) versus using a free update as a trojan horse and then slowly, almost imperceptibly, over months and years, gradually, by the slightest of margins, altering the shape of that horse.

          MS runs far less risk of pissing people off it is is gradual and over time. I’m not accusing MS of being stupid: I’m causing them of being a special kind of genius coupled with the resources and stubbornness to pull it off and the history of controlling anti-competitive and anti-consumer behaviour to back it up.

      • DiegoOfJuarez

        they make money the same way as Google. By data-mining the users.

        • Articuno76

          I’d imagine that’s small fry to their end game. And remember, it’s the same end game all software houses have: control.

          The difference between Apple and MS being that people are happy to accept a closed system with Apple because Apple wrap it all up in a way that is is immaculate and functions seemingly by magic — and besides you have your Android if you want something more open (and almost all apps are supported on both ecosystems anyway).

          But Windows’s userbase (at least the gamer portion) values Windows for the flexibility that comes from it being open.

  • Bobby Griffin

    Tim is trying to lock the game industry down with unreal at one point but companies started building their own engines. This is business and everyone wants their model to be top dog .It’s competition if you don’t like what a company is doing don’t cry about it just try and beat them.

    • aeris bueller

      So Epic Games should go into the operating system business and beat Microsoft by making a more popular OS than Windows? And no one should ever call out shady business practices. Also, they never tried to lock the industry into unreal engine. Aside from being completely impossible, it doesn’t even make sense what that’s supposed to mean.

  • Cigi

    I know Tim Sweeny’s best freind is Gabe Newell maybe he is just running his wars!!! after steam OS failed misserabely. But Steam on WIN is right now the defacto gaming standard which is taking 30% from every developer selling through this platform. I say let the competition begin.

    Steam already started to try to use their own monopoly to do dirty trics – i say wellcome to real competition. And the hyperbole Tim is spinning is just not fact YET. Lets wait and see – the world looks much different than 15 years ago, there are more choises so if MS does not behaive there will be other ways. Just look at the DRM debacle win XBOX and how the users changed a model they did not like. I for one look forward to everything MS is bringing to the table and the competition it brings. But maybe some do not like it, but i am sure they are not talking on behalf of all gamers but have their own agenda. Especially TIM SWEENY! Let it go – it is allmost an obsession for you!

  • otherZinc

    Hey Tim, STFU! You have no games anyone wants. If it weren’t for Gears Money M$ gave you, you & your company would be broke.

    I’m looking forward to not buying any game you make. Thanks for the Unreal Engine though. Yet, I cannot wait for others to make more engines so I don’t have to buy 1 game that uses your engine.

    Without Cliff Blezenski & Rod Ferguson, your company will die a slow death, with your crying big mouth.

    Now GTFOOH.

  • Justa Gname

    When will Microsoft release a secure voting app?

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