This week Microsoft has confirmed that it had acquired communications company Skype and that it plans to deploy the service on platform like Windows-powered PCs and the Xbox Live service for the Xbox 360 home console.
Recently, Microsoft has also made a lot of noise, not all of it actually backed by actions, being serious once again about supporting gaming via the Windows operating system and through Games for Windows Live and there are some signs that the Skype acquisition could be used further down the road to power an all-out attempt to take over the PC gaming space.
The official announcement coming from Microsoft
says that users will be able to put Skype to use in with “Xbox and Kinect, Windows Phone and a wide array of Windows devices” and that the service will connect to “Lync, Outlook, Xbox Live and other communities.”
Imagine a Games for Windows Live (perhaps renamed to something shorter and catchier) which has a bigger game catalog from major publishers, has integrated Skype elements, a social network element, Achievements, Gamer Points and support for cross connection to Xbox Live.
Now imagine that the launch comes with Windows 8, which seems to be already in development and has recently reached development Milestone 3, and that Microsoft makes the entire concept very attractive by launching PC-based ports, Windows 8 exclusive, for all the biggest hits that it has on the Xbox 360, including Halo remakes which use the power of the PC and price reduced list of other games.
Even the most die hard Steam
loyalists, those who have used the Valve service for years and bought tens of titles on it, would probably be tempted.
More casual users might also be lured in, as long as Microsoft delivers a solid service, has attractive pricing and, most important, makes it clear that it does not see PC gamers as a sort of underclass.
Of course, Microsoft faces a lot of hurdles before implementing something like this and it’s not clear whether the company is actually interested in going all in on the PC when it comes to gaming, but Skype could be the beginning of a long-term strategy.