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Games for Windows - Live Gets Reformatted, Rebooted

Like so many other Windows products, Games for Windows - Live wasn't perfect in its first incarnation.

Here's what you'll see when you press the Home button.
I saw so much promise in Microsoft's ambitious-but-doomed Live Anywhere initiative when it was first unveiled at E3 2006, though since then, Microsoft has dealt with backlash against charging for services that PC players were accustomed to getting for free and limited publisher adoption, as well as the rapidly growing popularity of Valve's community-anointed Steam service. Microsoft acknowledged that things weren't going swimmingly back in July, when it announced that it would be making all of its Live services on the PC free, and it continues to retool its PC gaming efforts by giving its Games for Windows - Live client a bit of an overhaul.

As reported by GameDaily, Microsoft has rolled out a revised version of the client, and in the next two to three weeks, it will introduce a Games for Windows - Live Marketplace, something to emulate the existing Xbox Marketplace, making it possible to download trailers, demos, and add-ons. As meaningful as Xbox Live has been to the overall console experience, it's not a one-size-fits-all thing, so it's reassuring to hear Microsoft Marketing Manager Michael Wolf say that “Rather than offer an 'Xbox Live for Windows' type experience,” Microsoft was trying to “optimize the service for PC gamers,” even if the copy-paste Marketplace concept seems to contradict that.

I've given the new client a look, and I wish I could say that it's a dramatic improvement, but honestly, I haven't played enough Games for Windows - Live titles before now to notice anything beyond the new graphical treatment. What I can say is that the lack of a standalone client still bugs the hell out of me, and it's something that I suspect might hobble the whole Marketplace feature. Who wants to load up Windows, then load up a game, then open up the in-game client just to download a trailer? It's still got a long way to go before it's at the same punching weight as Steam, but it's a step in the right direction. Microsoft knows how to iterate and refine its products, even if it takes a while, so I imagine they'll keep tinkering until they find something that fits.
25 Comments
Posted by Ryan
Here's what you'll see when you press the Home button.
I saw so much promise in Microsoft's ambitious-but-doomed Live Anywhere initiative when it was first unveiled at E3 2006, though since then, Microsoft has dealt with backlash against charging for services that PC players were accustomed to getting for free and limited publisher adoption, as well as the rapidly growing popularity of Valve's community-anointed Steam service. Microsoft acknowledged that things weren't going swimmingly back in July, when it announced that it would be making all of its Live services on the PC free, and it continues to retool its PC gaming efforts by giving its Games for Windows - Live client a bit of an overhaul.

As reported by GameDaily, Microsoft has rolled out a revised version of the client, and in the next two to three weeks, it will introduce a Games for Windows - Live Marketplace, something to emulate the existing Xbox Marketplace, making it possible to download trailers, demos, and add-ons. As meaningful as Xbox Live has been to the overall console experience, it's not a one-size-fits-all thing, so it's reassuring to hear Microsoft Marketing Manager Michael Wolf say that “Rather than offer an 'Xbox Live for Windows' type experience,” Microsoft was trying to “optimize the service for PC gamers,” even if the copy-paste Marketplace concept seems to contradict that.

I've given the new client a look, and I wish I could say that it's a dramatic improvement, but honestly, I haven't played enough Games for Windows - Live titles before now to notice anything beyond the new graphical treatment. What I can say is that the lack of a standalone client still bugs the hell out of me, and it's something that I suspect might hobble the whole Marketplace feature. Who wants to load up Windows, then load up a game, then open up the in-game client just to download a trailer? It's still got a long way to go before it's at the same punching weight as Steam, but it's a step in the right direction. Microsoft knows how to iterate and refine its products, even if it takes a while, so I imagine they'll keep tinkering until they find something that fits.
Staff
Posted by Milkman

I have yet to play any PC Games with Games for Windows support but I plan to change that when I get Fallout 3.

Online
Posted by John1912

Doesnt sound that bad to load up windows which you have to do start your game, and load a client.  Never tried it, and I would prob go to a gaming site before live or steam, but I dont see that being an issue.  Thats just PCs.  Ive been a split console PC gamer for a long time, but lets face it.  PCs have always been way more trouble, more then they are worth these days.

Posted by JoelTGM

That's cool.  I hope it all works out.

Posted by trav3ler

Doesn't affect me - I still use XP  :)

Posted by The_Icon

All the better to support the PC platform.

Posted by Hamz

When it comes anywhere close to providing the quality and overall level of support Steam offers to PC players then it might be worth a look, otherwise its just more MS trash filling up my HDD.

Posted by PapaLazarou

Why would anyone want to use this over Steam?

All Microsoft will do is charge for downloadable content and stop you from modding games because they seem to think people actually give a shit about achievements......

Edited by John1912

"All Microsoft will do is charge for downloadable content and stop you from modding games because they seem to think people actually give a shit about achievements......"

Lol, someones never been on a GFaqs board.  Achievments are out of hand.  I hope its a bad fad that will pass.  Who do these ppl even show them to ,or let alone ppl who give a flying shit. 90% of achievment are filler shit!

Posted by PapaLazarou

Tbh if you care sooo much about achievements then your life obviously is missing something.

Posted by Valestis

My life is missing something! : (

Posted by Scooper

Steam's awesome, I use that!

Posted by Stevokenevo

bringing back bad memories of Gears of War for the pc.  So many issues around patches and updates for Games for Windows - Live......eugh, i dont feel well.  Still havent managed to complete that game.  Maybe i should reinstall it and find out if this update doesnt crash the game every 20 seconds. 

Posted by MrKlorox

Anybody get vertical mouse pointer alignment issues in Fallout 3 on the GFWL interface? I thought this update would fix that for me, but it has not. Must be Fallout 3 as people with Gears of War are reporting no issues.

Edited by AndrewB

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Microsoft should outsource Games for Windows entirely to Steam; a much better and more widely used source for tying in games with downloadable content and achievements. The added bonus there is less piracy.

Gabe and Microsoft go way back, so they would certainly have the pre existing relationship to get the two companies to agree to it.

Posted by Destroyeron

I don't care for Windows Live, played games that have had it, never bothered to use it.

Posted by Media_Master

No effect on me , he he !

Posted by TooWalrus

I've played Halo 2 and Gears of War for PC. I never really had a problem with it, it lets you send/receive your messages, voice chat with dudes on their X-boxes etc, and get achievements for playing Halo 2. I don't really think it needs much more than that. If I want an Xbox Live experience, I'll hop on my Xbox.

Posted by Origina1Penguin

I noticed some visual changes when I booted up Fallout 3 the other day.  It looks much better than the previous setup.  It is also far more functional.  Everything seems to work just fine on XP.  I'm glad a marketplace will be showing up as well.  I'll buy more PC games if they have GFW abilities; so far, there hasn't been many GFW titles.

Posted by Kohe321

Never used it, so I'm unaffected.

Posted by Hamst3r

GFWL is horrible.  Steam is the way to go.  Good Old Games and GamersGate are also pretty good digital distribution services, but Steam is still the best one.

Online
Posted by Hangid

Hopefully, they'll get that all fixed up before Windows 7 launches.

Edited by SmokePants

I've got two beefs with GFWL at the moment.

If I fire up Live in Fallout 3, I have to click about an inch below what I'm trying to click on to get it to register. This was occurring before and after the update. It just seems like a ridiculous bug that should have easily been detected and squashed.

More annoying is that GFWL causes Fallout 3 to flake out and crash, because they don't share resources very well. Before the update, it wasn't so bad. I would crash to desktop after a few hours. After the update, I was crashing every 15 minutes. I tried to sign offline to keep GFWL idle in the background, but apparently, you can't do that without signing out your profile, which removes access to your saved games. So, when I want to play Fallout, I have to physically unplug my network cable. It works, I barely crash anymore.

::sigh:: I guess Achievements are nice, though.

Posted by keyhunter

2 THOUSAND POINTS IN FALLOUT 3
Hell YEAH.

Posted by Nintendude

Only few games support the points on this service (the last time I checked) so coldn't care less about it. Especially if this thing doesn't work on XP (not sure if it does).