Way back in late 2006 DirectX 10 was considered to be the next big thing in the world of PC gaming. It was going to be an exclusive feature of Windows Vista (due to be released in early 2007) and many a PC gamer was all a twitter. In October of 2006, the games that Microsoft was using to pimp DirectX 10 included Flight Simulator X, Unreal Tournament 3, Crysis and Alan Wake. Alan Wake was announced at E3 2005 with a trailer that showed off the game's very impressive day to night cycle and its beautiful outdoor vistas. At the next E3 they showed a new trailer and announced that the game would be exclusive to the Xbox 360 and PCs running Vista.
The game was not released in 2007 (alongside or even after Vista) and it was not at E3 in 2007 or 2008. It did return to the show 2009 where it was deemed impressive enough to make IGN's '10 most significant PC games of the show' list. A scant 36 days later there were rumors that the game would not be coming to the PC from people like the game's lead writer. Seven months later Microsoft finally commented on the rumor by giving a really weak reason for stopping the development of the PC version:
"Some games are more suited for the intimacy of the PC, and others are best played from the couch in front of a larger TV screen. We ultimately realised that the most compelling way to experience Alan Wake was on the Xbox 360 platform, so we focused on making it an Xbox 360 exclusive. Both Microsoft and Remedy have long histories in PC game development. This decision was about matching this specific game to the right platform."
Why would they cancel the PC version? Well the game was hyped as one of the quintessential DirectX 10 games that would help Microsoft sell Vista to gamers. When the game did not come out in 2007 (or 2008) as a DirectX 10/Vista launch title Microsoft knew that the PC version's ship had sailed, and then sank. It was also supposed to be an open world sandbox style game like GTA before the developers scrapped that idea and made the game we now know. A Vista PC would have been much easier to develop a sandbox game for, so when they decided to give up on the sandbox design, they probably saw no reason to continue making the PC version. Or it could have happened the other way. Once they decided to give up on the PC version, they needed to change the design to make them game easier to develop for the 360.
So, 666 days after Microsoft gave their shitty reason for cancelling the game, they have announced that they changed their minds! The game will reportedly "have the high resolution polish that longtime fans will expect." and it will also contain the The Signal and The Writer DLC packs. Does this mean that people are now playing their PC games on large TV screens while sitting on the couch? Nope. Microsoft was just lying to us.
All signs point to the PC version of Alan Wake finally emerging from the darkness in early 2012. Why did MS decide to release the game now? It might have something to do with the early 2012 release of the new Alan Wake XBLA game.
On a personal note, I had the PC version of Alan Wake on my video game wishlist up until I finally bought the 360 version a few months ago. I haven't started playing it yet though, so I'll probably ditch my 360 copy and get myself the PC version instead. I also want to know if the game will still be a DirectX 10 game. I would be very surprised (maybe even gobsmacked) if it ends up being a DirectX 11 game.