The next Xbox app update will finally take the locks off of games from Xbox Game Pass for PC and the Microsoft Store. A report from The Verge’s Tom Warren earlier today said the next update finally addresses one of the biggest sore points for people who use games from any of Microsoft’s platforms, which is the lack of control over games kept under lock and key in a restricted WindowsApps folder.
Should their plans pull through, Windows users will be able to install PC games from those platforms to any folder of their choice without restrictions. This would let users mod the contents of those folders freely or relocate them to other folders and drives. The existing restrictions are a holdover from the Xbox One era when Microsoft was pushing for a more Apple-like “walled garden” experience.
Those restrictions were a disincentive to hardcore PC gamers who would opt to purchase games from Steam or GOG instead, where backing up and modding your games was taken as a given. For some PC enthusiasts who stood their ground on this issue, that meant opting out of Microsoft exclusives like Gears of War 4 and Recore entirely unless they made an appearance on other platforms later.
At the time of the report, Microsoft simply confirmed the new more open approach to the installation architecture of games from the Microsoft Store, but held out on details until they posted this new video which goes into what Xbox Insiders will see before the update rolls out for everyone else.
Among the features being tested are improved download speeds to Xbox PC games, control over installation folders, access to local files and moddability. Just in time as Steam modding tools were recently added to Humankind, the 4X strategy game that’s available on Xbox Game Pass for PC, and it would be a bummer if that game didn’t have the mod functionality that Steam users enjoy.
“With great PC games like Back 4 Blood, Age of Empires IV, Forza Horizon 5 and Halo Infinite on day one with Game Pass, we wanted to provide players with more options to customize their experience in the Xbox app,” said partner director of experiences at Xbox, Jason Beaumont in a statement to The Verge. “We’ll continue to share updates as we launch additional features.”
No date has been given yet on when these features will be rolled out to the Xbox app for the rest of its users, but the speculation being made across multiple corners of the Internet has it that the update could arrive on December 8 in time for Halo Infinite. Now if you don’t mind, I’ll be off to rinse my eyes after having learned about Mass Effect mods that replace all the fonts with Comic Sans.