Of all the big changes in Windows 11, Microsoft’s revamped app store may have the largest impact on software development and the user experience. Not only does it provide secure downloads for Windows software, but it integrates with Amazon’s store for Android apps. And if Microsoft gets its way, the Windows 11 app store could integrate with Steam and Epic Games, too.
In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft OS chief Panos Panay stated that Steam and Epic Games are “very welcome” on the Microsoft Store—“as a matter of fact, they’re encouraged” to join it. Such a partnership would allow you to look up and purchase Steam or Epic games through the Microsoft Store on Windows 11, saving you the trouble of checking each service manually.
But there are a few problems with this scheme. For one, it could make the Microsoft Store more complicated. Microsoft says that it will require Windows 11 users to download and log in to the Amazon app store before they download Android apps, so a similar system would be required for Steam and Epic Games.
There’s also business. Microsoft sells games on its app store, so it’s technically a competitor to Steam and Epic Games. If these companies list their products on Microsoft’s store, it may undermine their own game stores and lead to less control over advertising and sales events. (Of course, it could also provide a new frontier for Steam and Epic Games to compete on pricing, which may be helpful to gamers.)
And while Microsoft Store has a no-fee policy for apps, it still takes a 30% cut of games (Microsoft says it will only take 12% of revenue from games starting this August). Companies like Valve and Epic Games already run successful game stores, and they would be crazy to hand over 12% of sales to Microsoft.
But there’s still hope. After telling The Verge that Steam and Epic Games are encouraged to join the Store, Panos Panay went on to say “that’s kind of why we’re building out some of these policies.” Microsoft may be willing to accommodate these companies with much lower fees, though we probably won’t find out anytime soon.