A PC game is a PC game, right? Not if you buy it on the Windows store, apparently, and Microsoft is refunding purchases of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare purchased since the game’s release a few days ago.
Those who bought the game on Microsoft’s built-in store quickly found that they weren’t able to play the long-awaited (363 very long days) game with their friends who bought the game on Steam. Because the Windows store isn’t yet (and might never be) a very popular place to buy games, those players also found that they didn’t have very many people to play with. While something like that might fly with a cross-platform game like Forza Horizon 3 or a single-player game like Quantum Break, that simply doesn’t work with a game like Call of Duty, which players pick up at least as much for the multiplayer as they do for the campaign.
Motherboard spoke to one such gamer, Reddit user hayz00s. His younger brother bought the game on the Windows store and found himself waiting in a lobby with one other person. When it became apparent the situation wasn’t going to resolve itself quickly, the disappointed gamer contacted Microsoft and was able to obtain a refund without trouble.
The Play Anywhere Problem
He bought the game on the Windows store for two reasons: it was cheaper, and he wanted to play the game with a friend on Xbox One, a system he doesn’t own. The price difference is a pretty big one – $63.99 versus $79.99 on Steam for the Legacy Edition of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare.
That second one, though, is a bigger problem. Microsoft has been pushing the Play Anywhere initiative behind games like Forza Horizon 3 and Gears of War 4 pretty hard since they unveiled it at E3 this summer, but it’s not something that applies to all, most, or even a significant portion of games. However, it’s easy to see how a casual gamer might get the idea that that’s the case, and this is something Microsoft could see become an issue – gamers thinking they can buy Windows store games to play with their console-owning friends. While Microsoft says they’re willing to support the feature for any publisher who wishes to enable it, very few non-Microsoft Studios developers have taken the console manufacturer up on the offer.
That this is even an issue is just another stumbling block for the Windows store, which has seen one problem after another crop up since it launched. Early games lacked basic PC gaming features, and Xbox Play Anywhere games have had troubled launches. Forza Horizon 3 didn’t perform playably for weeks, and Gears of War 4 patches were forcing players to re-download the entire game. The Windows Store and Steam are apparently considered different platforms. Motherboard compares it to buying a game from two retail shops and finding they don’t work together, but it’s more like the two stores are selling different versions of the game.
Personally, I tend to tackle single-player campaigns before I even touch multiplayer, and if hayz00s’ brother had done the same, a refund might not have been as easy to obtain. Microsoft will have to address this in some way, either by posting some impossible-to-miss warnings or by working with developers and publishers to keep this from being a hurdle in the future. Steam is a wildly popular platform for gamers, and one many of us aren’t eager to leave behind. Microsoft needs to make their store as welcoming as possible if they want it to become a destination for PC and console gamers alike.