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Phil Spencer: a 'renewed focus' on Windows PC gaming from Microsoft is coming

Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Microsoft is working toward a "renewed focus on Windows and PC gaming," Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer said at GDC 2014 today, the fruits of which will become more evident later this year.

Responding to a question about Valve's move into the living room with SteamOS and Steam Machines, Spencer said he respects the company's work in the PC space, something Microsoft itself plans to dedicate more effort to.

"I think Valve's an incredible company," Spencer said. "They've been the backbone of PC gaming for the last decade, and as the Windows company, I appreciate what they've done. They have, in a lot of ways, focused more on PC gaming than we have."

Spencer said he viewed competition from Valve and other platform holders as a boon to Microsoft. "We learn a ton from Sony and Nintendo," he said, "so more people competing in this space is a good thing."

"A renewed focus on Windows and PC gaming inside Microsoft is definitely happening," he continued. "You will see more focus from us — not to go compete with what Valve has done, but because we also understand as the platform holder it's important for us to invest in the platform in a real way. We're fundamentally committed to that."

Spencer said we'll hear more about the company's Windows PC gaming plans this summer, as "more talks and different technology" are shown.

"We have a longer term plan for multiplayer gaming and marketplace on Windows."

We caught up with Spencer after his talk to get an update on the status of Games for Windows Live. After Microsoft posted, then pulled, a support notice last year about the Games for Windows Live service shutting down this July, developers have responded by updating their games, removing Live integration and, in some cases, pulling their Games for Windows Live titles from the marketplace.

"You will get a clear answer from us very soon," Spencer said about the future of Games for Windows Live. "We have a longer term plan for multiplayer gaming and marketplace on Windows. We understand what we have today in market ... isn't great. We do understand there's some continuity of getting from where we are to where we want to be [and] that shutting the lights off [on Games for Windows Live] isn't exactly the right thing to do.

"We've got to make sure we've got a thoughtful plan that supports the people that currently have games on Games for Windows Live. It's a conversation we're having."

Spencer warned there "might be some transition bumps, getting from here to there," as Microsoft redefines its PC gaming efforts.

"But we're going to invest significantly more in that space, not less," he said. "It's just whether what we have today is the core of what we have [in the future] and it's probably not.

"We've got to have this message out in a thoughtful way [within the next few] months and not anything more than that. It's in the real near term. This is something that we're working on now... because we want to be clear on it."

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