Windows Store Woes, or how Microsoft forced me to reconsider one of the reasons I purchased an XBone
XBOX console gaming PC gaming Play Anywhere Middle-Earth: Shadow of War Windows 10
When I went to fire up Shadow of War last night, I discovered something unpleasant about the Play Anywhere Windows store version of the game that I had installed at the end of January--I couldn't find it. I was looking for it because the game suddenly quit loading for some mysterious reason. I thought that there was some possibility I could delete some cached files to fix this problem. Foolish me.
This was my introduction to the ugly side of the closed ecosystem that is the universe of Universal Windows Apps. A bit of googling revealed that the game was, ostensibly, somewhere within C:\Users\Username\Appdata\Local\Packages. After hunting for it a bit and not seeing anything resembling it, I turned back to the internet to consult Microsoft's sages once again. Microsoft's support page for WIndows Store apps essentially says that if you bought something from the Windows Store and it goes pear-shaped, your only option is to uninstall and reinstall it and hope that fixes the issue. So, I uninstalled the game and prepared to reinstall it. It's downloading again now, and it will probably be Saturday before I've downloaded all of it. At my internet speeds, 80 Gb is no joke, and the first time I installed the game, I had several problems where it stopped for no apparent reason and I had to restart the download from scratch. I'm crossing my fingers that that isn't the case this time.
And that brings me back to the Windows Store. Because I don't know where the files are located exactly, there's no real way even to have a backup in case this sort of thing happens again. I'm left with hoping that it doesn't. If I had bought a Steam version of Shadow of War, I could clear the cache, backup the files to an external drive, and do a lot of other things to attempt to resolve this issue, short of actually redownloading the entire thing. I'm in this position because I actually thought that having a Play Anywhere title (one that you can play on your computer and your XBOX) would be a nifty feature, and, maybe it still is. I bought the newest iteration of Zoo Tycoon and played it for about a month on my computer before I even had an Xbox and that was cool. I still occasionally play it on both. Forza Horizon 3, on the other hand, I never bothered to install on my PC.
In retrospect, while there's no harm in getting a title on the XBOX that just happens to be Play Anywhere, I don't see a point in going out of my way to get a version of a game that is PA when other options are available on the PC. I was interested in playing Halo Wars, but the XBOX controls are, unsurprisingly, terrible, so it seemed like a natural fit to buy the PA version and play it on my computer. However, because there's already a Steam release for it, that reasoning seems silly at best now. The funny thing about this is that the concept is part of what pushed me in favor of getting an XBOX instead of a PS4 last year. I'm having a certain degree of buyer's remorse now because the PS4 has better exclusives (and Sony pretty much always has) and my brother owns one so we could swap games, and that 4K Blu-ray drive, well, I haven't actually played too many 4K discs in it. Be that as it may, this one specific reason that I had leaned in the Microsoft direction has definitely lost a lot of its appeal.