And this time around that hand is PC Gaming. And no, this isn't a post about PC gaming dying, it's a post of the ironic situation in which Microsoft has gotten themselves out of pure greed.
While I doubt that Microsoft intentionally wants to damage PC Gaming, I still can't deny that they have done just that either by greed or sloppiness. That's the only conclusion I can come to after reviewing their actions with PC gaming in the past few years.
The dreaded "Vista Excusives"
Halo2(PC) started it, it had no DX10 effects to justify it, and it utterly flopped because of it. Then came Shadowrun and did the same, in the future we also have Alank Wake to look forward to. Now you may say "but technology moves on" and "Vista is great"....but that's no the point. The point is Microsoft slapped PC gamers in the face with their own dead dog with the Vista exclusives, Halo2 and Shadowrun were "fixed"(legally) to work on XP pretty much the day they hit the shelves, so we know there was no other justification than the sad attempt to boost Vista sales at the expense of PC gamers. Ironically, by doing that, they also pretty much confirmed that Windows does need games to sell.
Now you may think that "well at least Alan Wake is a ground up DX10 title, that's why it's Vista exclusive!" ..Sadly no, Alan Wake is Vista exclusive because Microsoft paid Remedy to make it so, it's not build on DX10, the fact that it's on 360 proves that, plus it was supposed to be on XP originally. Luckily the bigger developers under Microsoft influence have been able to wiggle out of it, like Epic with Gears Of War, but it does seem that if it were up to Microsoft, every game would be Vista exclusive, even if it would kill the whole PC gaming.
Now the next one is perhaps the worst - Games For Windows Live(GFWL). It was like a full frontal assault on PC online gaming, in a desperate attempt to replace something working and popular with an inferior solution controlled by Microsoft. Luckily the assault has failed this far, thanks to Microsoft underestimating PC gamers and thinking that a 3 year old xbox port like Halo2 would actually impress us. But how has it hurt PC gaming then? Well it hasn't much, yet anyway, only game lost to GFWL worth noting is Gears Of War, but it is nevertheless an attempt to directly exploit PC gamers even further without thinking the whole picture, and I can't imagine that Microsoft is naive enough to truly believe that PC needs a service like Live.
People can talk all day how 360 and PC aren't in competition with each other, but a simple glance at the game libraries tells otherwise. Yet like it or not, PC Gaming and 360 are also related through Microsoft. You could say PC is the adopted older brother and 360 is the slightly retarted little brother, and for now it's the 360 that needs more help and attention from Microsoft, unfortunately that often comes with the expense of PC. Microsoft is competing with themselves.
Exlusives - now PC doesn't have a big company holding onto the rights, so it's natural the games go to other platforms too. But seriously, how many of the PC/360 multiplats were made on PC's terms, and how many on 360's terms? And would games like Mass Effect and Gears Of War been on the PC too right from the beginning without Microsoft paying the developers? 2007 the 360 was mainly running FPS games, 2008 it will be running RTS games ..hmm, sounds to me like 360 is in more competition with the PC than it is with the Japanese consoles.
DX10 and Vista
Lets admit it, both have been utter failures from gaming perspective this far. DX10 came too soon when there just wasn't large enough install base for developers to make real DX10 games, Vista which is needed for DX10 just didn't get off to the start they thought it would, and the lower-end DX10 hardware wasn't really enough to run games on Vista with the tacked on DX10 effects.
Not to mention the 360, the main development platform for multiplats is only capable of DX9 which pretty much guarantees that no multiplat will truly be DX10 untill the next xbox. The sweet irony - Microsoft is simultaneously pushing forward with Vista/DX10 and pulling backwards with 360/DX9.
It looks like DX9 took the cake this time, it didn't help that the hyped DX10 only effects were tweaked to work on XP in DX9, and with improved framerate. Vista on the other hand seems to be just a slowdown for gamers and a minor annoyance when it comes to drivers and backwards compatibility.
Why indeed. I mean PC gaming IS important for the success of Windows. Companies use Windows because people, the workers, know how to use it. People know how to use it because they have one on their home PC. And one major reason the people, especially the more computer savvy still have Windows, is because it plays games. So why would Microsoft neglect those gamers?
Here's why: No Competition. Microsoft is free to chew on PC gaming all they want, in the end the gamers don't have a choice, Windows is still the only OS that can run games well enough to meet a gamer's needs. They realized that they CAN indeed have the cake AND eat it.