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Microsoft is a huge corporation, but it is also one that has learned how to remain nimble in order to pivot when it does something people don’t like.
The company told developers at the Game Developers conference last week that its mantra of “we’re listening to feedback” applies to developers as well as gamers — and specifically, it wants to hear more about what you hate about the Universal Windows Platform. The first wave of UWP-enabled games on Windows 10 have a problem where you cannot turn off an option that locks the framerate to the refresh rate of your monitor. For example, Gears of War: Ultimate Edition for PC — which is available now as a UWP-enabled game on the Windows 10 Store — has stuttering problems with its 30 frames-per-second cap that players cannot fix because the game doesn’t have standard options to turn off v-sync. For PC gamers, this is a sign that the UWP program — which is Microsoft’s effort to bring Windows together with its mobile and gaming division — is about eliminating choices.
Gaming is a $99.3 billion industry worldwide. Microsoft is positioning Xbox and the overarching UWP business as a way that developers can easily access the various segments of that market. The company says it is still committed to Xbox One, but it wants to also find ways to serve people who game on PC and mobile devices as well as upcoming platforms like the HoloLens augmented reality headset that combines digital imagery with the real world.
But UWP is giving off a rough first impression with the framerate issues and other problems, and Xbox product manager Jason Ronald acknowledged this issue during a presentation at GDC last week. During his talk, Ronald noted that the company is already working on a fix for many of these annoying features.
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“Some of the early feedback we’ve gotten from the first wave of UWP-enabled games is that people don’t like that v-sync is locked to the refresh rate of the monitor or that there’s a lack of support for Gsync and Freesync [options that intelligently output rendered images onto a monitor at the same rate as that graphics card,” he said. “We’ve taken that feedback, and we’re actively working on fixes that we’re testing with some of our first-party studios. We’ll be shipping these later this year.”
Microsoft is frustrating a lot of people with UWP. That includes gamers, but industry luminaries like Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney — who helped turn that company into a software-tool powerhouse with the Unreal game-creation engine — have also detailed some intense criticism of this initiative.
Ronald didn’t directly address those comments, but he reiterated that they’re hearing them.
“We’re listening to feedback,” he said. “We say that all the time to the public and the gamer audience, but it’s true of developers as well. Feedback from developers and gamers is critical to our success. It directly affects our priorities and our roadmap.”
Microsoft also promised that it will have more to share about UWP updates that address other concerns they’ve heard from developers. You can expect those to hit before the end of the year.
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