Well, this is interesting. We reported about a week ago that the head of Microsoft Studios, Phil Spencer, had eluded that the Xbox maker may be looking to Steam as a platform for some of their older, most popular franchises. This would mostly be due to Microsoft’s pre-existing digital games distribution and DRM system, Games For Windows LIVE, being scheduled for execution after it failed to compete in any way with the likes of Steam and gain any sort of foothold in the PC market. Today, Microsoft has announced what may be the first in a broad range of titles you never thought you’d see on Steam – Halo: Spartan Assault will be available on April 4th.
Okay, so it’s not the seminal shooter we all wanted, but it’s a good start – and not an insignificant move. This is the first time that a game in the Halo series has been released through a non-Microsoft owned service and it goes a long way to show what Microsoft’s renewed focus on PC gaming really entails. If Microsoft was working on a replacement service for Game For Windows LIVE, then a game like Spartan Assault would very likely be made exclusive to it instead of showing up on Steam
Halo: Spartan Assault is a top-down, third person shooter set prior to the events of Halo 4. It wasn’t exactly a major release in the revolutionary series, but it had been one of Microsoft’s key selling points for its Surface tablet, Windows Phone 8, and Windows 8 operating system to which the game had been exclusive. But now a quick look at the Steam product page for Spartan Assault shows that Windows 7 and Vista are listed in the system requirements. Microsoft has been stepping back from Windows 8 following the departure of CEO Steve Ballmer, who had spear-headed nearly all of the companies’ less-than-successful products and services since the year 2000 – Games For Windows LIVE among them.
No word yet on how or if the Steam edition of Spartan Assault will make use of Halo: Waypoint, which records your progress through Halo games and supplies you with media and in-game items.