Microsoft’s on-again off-again affair with PC gaming is finally the real deal

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Microsoft’s historical past in PC gaming is a long time lengthy, however unusually divorced from the passion it helped foster. It created Home windows, the bedrock of PC gaming, however the firm hadn’t proven curiosity in championing the platform till the previous few years: For its first 20 years of existence, at the least, video games have been at greatest an afterthought.

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Microsoft’s early historical past is generally a story of missed alternatives and an unwillingness to deal with video games with the seriousness they deserved. Below Invoice Gates and later Steve Ballmer (a vocal opponent of the unique Xbox), Microsoft’s enterprise focus was the PC ecosystem: Not simply the OS your machine ran on, however the software program you utilize to browse the web, or play video or music, or work. The corporate was famously late to realising the significance of the web, one thing Gates recognized and rectified within the mid-’90s, and arguably made precisely the identical mistake with video games for 20 years.

Ask somebody to call Microsoft’s flagship PC sport from the ’80s and ’90s and you may most likely get one in all two solutions: Microsoft Flight Simulator, or Age of Empires. The previous started life as an Apple II sport, known as Flight Simulator, programmed by one Bruce Artwick and launched in 1979: Microsoft merely purchased the rights and re-released it as Microsoft Flight Simulator. Age of Empires got here a lot later in 1997, and displays that at this stage Microsoft noticed its function as a video games writer and developer of backend instruments quite than a key participant within the trade (it will later purchase the sport’s developer Ensemble).

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Age of Empires 4 key art

(Picture credit score: Microsoft)

Reluctant steps into gaming

All the pieces was about Home windows… and video games have been one thing the youngsters performed

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