Windows 10 Gaming Kinda Sucks, But Microsoft Can Fix It

"The best Windows ever for gaming." That's a catchphrase Microsoft has been touting for Windows 10 ever since the company announced its shiny new operating system. But the slogan is not entirely true, at least not when it comes to first-party titles.

Quantum Break. Photo: Microsoft

Quantum Break. Photo: Microsoft

While Microsoft is finally bringing some of its biggest Xbox franchises to PC, those titles have been largely crippled by performance issues and buried in a messy marketplace that lacks the curation and convenience gamers have come to expect. However, with a few tweaks, Microsoft can not only make Windows 10 a great place to play games, but could also bring Windows and Xbox together in a way that would make Microsoft's console stand out from the competition.

Cool Features, Bad Performance

Don't get me wrong, Windows 10 does already offer some neat features for gamers via its Xbox app. Being able to stream Xbox One games to your PC is a godsend when someone's hogging the TV, and it's nice being able to record game play with a few clicks or to keep tabs on your Xbox friends right from your desktop. As with any version of Windows, this one lets you play games from popular services such as Steam, GoG and Origin.

The Windows Store is what would happen if the Apple App Store had a terrifying baby with GameStop.

But when it comes to actually buying and playing Microsoft-published titles, Windows 10 starts to fall apart a bit. Two of the company's biggest releases — Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Quantum Break— launched with significant performance issues on PC. 

As demonstrated in the above video, Gears Ultimate can become a stuttering mess on even the highest-end graphics cards, particularly for those using AMD-powered machines. Twitter user Joseph Bradford is one of the many folks who had major Quantum Break issues, including sub-30 frame-per-second frame rates on a powerful GTX 980 graphics card. What's even more embarrassing is that there's no option to exit the game from the main menu.

The respective developers of Gears of War and Quantum Break are working to fix these issues, but it's not a great start to what should be a boon of great first-party games on Windows.

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Windows Store: Gamers deserve better

Microsoft's PC games aren't the only ones to suffer from launch issues (remember Arkham Knight?), but they do have the unique disadvantage of being stuck in the crappy Windows Store.

What's wrong with this picture?

What's wrong with this picture?

When you fire up a service like Steam, you're typically treated to carefully curated bunches of games based on genres and themes. Hit the games tab in the Windows Store, however, and you'll see high-quality hits like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Minecraft trapped between free-to-play junk like Candy Crush and Sonic Dash. It's like the Apple App Store had a terrifying baby with GameStop.

Being able to bring your console purchases to a high-end PC could attract a whole new audience of gamers.

As pointed out by PCWorld, Windows Store games are Universal Windows Apps, which means they can't be used with third-party programs (such as popular frame-rate counter Fraps) or be added to your Steam library. In a perfect world, you'd be able to buy Microsoft games from your digital marketplace of choice. But since Microsoft seems too stubborn for that, the company could at least create an ecosystem that isn't embarrassingly painful to use. Which brings me to my next point…  

Killer Potential: Merging Windows and Xbox

Windows 10 has an Xbox app, but you can't buy Windows or Xbox One games from it. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Microsoft should leverage this app to be a one-stop shop for all of the company's titles, allowing you to find hit PC games without wading through vaporware and to buy Xbox One games that you can play on your console later.

This is what buying games on Windows 10 should look like. Photo: Microsoft

This is what buying games on Windows 10 should look like. Photo: Microsoft

With Xbox and Windows becoming ever more similar, there's no reason why buying and using Microsoft games on PC shouldn't be as seamless as doing so on Xbox One.

There's a reason I'm hopeful for the future of Windows 10 gaming, and that reason is Killer Instinct, Microsoft's flagship fighting game that just hit PC after two-plus years as an Xbox One exclusive. When I fire up Killer Instinct on my PC, all of my game progress and purchased content from the Xbox version is there, and vice versa. The game's cross-platform play lets me beat up on both my Xbox and PC pals, regardless of which of those machines I happen to be using at the time.

Microsoft's Killer Instinct supports cross-buy and cross-play across Xbox One and PC.

Microsoft's Killer Instinct supports cross-buy and cross-play across Xbox One and PC.

Quantum Break has similar cross-save functionality, but the two versions are sold separately. Gears of War: Ultimate Edition is completely segregated across Xbox and Windows, which has left owners of the latter version with a small player base.

If Microsoft can make its first-party games truly universal across PC and Xbox, that would give these titles a unique benefit over the slew of competing Windows and console games. Sony offers plenty of cross-buy and cross-save games across PS4, PS3 and PS Vita, but being able to bring your console purchases to a high-end PC could attract a whole new audience of gamers.


With a wealth of cross-compatible games and a more gamer-friendly marketplace, Windows 10 truly can become "the best Windows ever for gaming." Microsoft just has to do the work.

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Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.

  • HyperMatrix
    For what it's worth...Gears of War should run fine. I'm not sure what issues others are running into but at 2560x1440 resolution, using the 4k textures and everything maxed out, I got an average of 100fps on the in-game benchmark. Now, of course I wish it had SLI support. But other than that...I can't find any issues with it.
  • Rezeak
    Mircosoft making bad Windows games isn't a slight on how good Windows 10 is.

    It is the best OS for gaming when compared to 7 or 8.1 and even back then Windows GFWL is as bad or worse as the current Xbone/Windows stuff.

    Article has a point but going from the view point windows 10 is the problem is confusing i mean will using 7 or 8.1 fix the problems mentioned no.

    Kinda, insulting in a way cause if you think about it Windows 10 was given out as a free upgrade meaning gamers didn't have to pay to get access to Directx 12 and performance wise games bench 0-10% higher on 10.
  • wh3resmycar
    makes you wonder if folks at M$ even 6 sigma. how did those mofo's present their business slides to their stakeholders? "here in this slide you can see, we made a platform so bad it'll be laughable for generations to come".
  • cats_Paw
    I bought Gears of War 1 for PC some time ago and it runned perfect on a ATI 4850 (for the ancestors who still remember those times).
    Now, with Win10, and DX12, and a beafy GPU, the game does not.

    And then people call you skeptic when you say that its better to wait and see rather than jump on the new thing (it can be WIN10, a new pre-order game or even a new GPU).

    I have to say I dont like where this article is going.
    "It has potential?" What does that even mean?
    Its an OS, of course Microsoft can make it better, even great. And when they do, Ill be first in line to buy it (well, probably not first, im a bit lazy).

    DX12 so far is a mixed bag, in some cases it even gets worse benchmarks than DX11... and thats if the game has no compatibility issues.
  • Todd_17
    Why would they fix something that is no longer a part of their business model? Its no secret that the want to move all gaming to the console.
  • Kyle Hill
    Windows 7 is far better for gaming because it has D-Tools and Alcohol 120 percent!

    Windows 7 has quite a bit of backwards compatibility as long as the game isn't too off the wall like most Dream Catcher Adventure games or Sim City 3 and 4 which came out at bad timing when computers were transitioning to 64 bit.

    Most stuff on Windows 10 does not work unless it was designed for 8 though if all you do is Zombieville AKA: Farmville and play around with pictures all day then I guess Win 10 is for you.
  • Kyle Hill
    I stopped reading past the word *X-box* as if the entire gaming industry should center in on it.

    I enjoy Windows 7 for software and games that do not work on 10. Windows 7 plays most XP era software either right out of the box or with some tweaks.

    Some games like certain EA titles *Sim City* were finicky because of the timing where computers were switching over to 64 bit but a lot of people still had old 32 bit PC's from the late 90s.

    I have an old 64 bit computer from Blue Dragon Computers that is used only for old games as it's from 2005 when 64 bit started appearing and runs most stuff in that time period with no trouble.

    Battle for Middle Earth 2 runs smooth as a cat purring while on Windows 7 all sorts of funny stuff happening and Windows 10 it doesn't even get past the install screen before getting stuck in a loop.
  • Kyle Hill
    I've always wondered if Battle for Middle Earth 2 Xbox 360 is worth it.