Editor’s note: We previously published a transcript of our fireside chat with Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney. Now we’re publishing the video below. Sweeney’s talk was the most popular at our GamesBeat Summit 2016.
Microsoft wants to unify its desktop, mobile, and game platforms through the Universal Windows Platform (UWP). At the recent Microsoft Build conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and two other executives insisted that Windows 10 is an open platform for developers. But Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic Games, still isn’t convinced.
Sweeney started a discussion with bold allegations that Microsoft was slowly moving to close off the open platform of the PC. That prompted the reaction at Microsoft’s Build conference, where three executives, including CEO Satya Nadella, declared that Windows was open. But even after that, Sweeney isn’t satisfied. During a fireside chat on Tuesday at the GamesBeat Summit in Sausalito, California, the Epic Games founder (the maker of the Unreal Engine game-making tool and games like Gears of War and Paragon) said that game industry is acting like a frog in a boiling pot.
If you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out. But if you put it in a pot of water and slowly raise the temperature, the frog won’t move and it will eventually boil, Sweeney said. In this case, the game industry may not realize that Microsoft could eventually close off the ecosystem, Sweeney said.
A bunch of platform owners were in the audience at our event. To them, Sweeney said, “Open platforms encourage innovation. Whenever you have a closed platform, a monopoly on commerce, and all these platform rules, it stifles innovation.”
UWP is a way for developers to build an app or game once and then publish it for Windows 10, Windows Mobile, or Xbox One. This could simplify development for a lot of studios, but Sweeney argues that you can’t release a UWP app without getting an approval from Microsoft. Additionally, end users cannot install UWP programs without first turning off a security feature, which gives some dire warnings that may scare off some consumers. Microsoft has countered these concerns with claims that UWP is open, but Sweeney fears that Microsoft is taking steps to make its own platform more like Apple’s closed iOS. He also worries that Microsoft will start taking its 30 percent cut of platform revenues on the PC.
Sweeney doesn’t want the game industry to be a boiled frog.
Here’s a video of our conversation.