Microsoft Bringing Games For Windows To The Web Next Month

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Posted by Brad (2925 posts) -

I think most of you would agree that Steam has just about run away with client-based online PC game sales at this point. So next month Microsoft is planning to take its Games for Windows initiative where Steam isn't: the Web. Well, sure, you can browse and buy games over on the Steam website, but you still have to fire up the Steam client to download and play your games.

Microsoft is looking to cut out that software middleman with the new Games for Windows Marketplace, due to launch on November 15. The idea is that this thing will let you buy games through a web interface and then start them downloading straight through your browser's "Save as" function, no standalone client required. (The old GFW client will still exist to let you access old purchases and manage files, but you won't need it to make the initial purchase and start playing your game.)
 


I asked Microsoft's Peter Orullian if the company planned to use the GFW Marketplace to push platform exclusives--Age of Empires Online seems like the prime candidate to me--and he said that some sort of exclusives would appear on the service but didn't elaborate about which ones those might be. (Shacknews also confirmed with Orullian that Steamworks-enabled games will not surprisingly be absent from GFWM.)

Orullian also talked about leveraging the Games for Windows team's access to Xbox Live Marketplace and its ongoing sales (like the deal of the week). He mentioned that cross-promotional deals like a blanket 10% off a publisher's catalog between both Xbox Live and Games for Windows Marketplace might not be out of the question in the future.

There are still a lot of questions yet to be answered about this new platform, especially what sort of DRM we're going to be seeing in the games you download from the Marketplace. With only about three weeks to go before the new site launches, I expect we'll see more firm details in the near future. Meanwhile, how do you feel about making all your purchases through Steam? Any interest in doing this invisible e-commerce thing straight through the Web?
 

Staff
#1 Posted by Brad (2925 posts) -

I think most of you would agree that Steam has just about run away with client-based online PC game sales at this point. So next month Microsoft is planning to take its Games for Windows initiative where Steam isn't: the Web. Well, sure, you can browse and buy games over on the Steam website, but you still have to fire up the Steam client to download and play your games.

Microsoft is looking to cut out that software middleman with the new Games for Windows Marketplace, due to launch on November 15. The idea is that this thing will let you buy games through a web interface and then start them downloading straight through your browser's "Save as" function, no standalone client required. (The old GFW client will still exist to let you access old purchases and manage files, but you won't need it to make the initial purchase and start playing your game.)
 


I asked Microsoft's Peter Orullian if the company planned to use the GFW Marketplace to push platform exclusives--Age of Empires Online seems like the prime candidate to me--and he said that some sort of exclusives would appear on the service but didn't elaborate about which ones those might be. (Shacknews also confirmed with Orullian that Steamworks-enabled games will not surprisingly be absent from GFWM.)

Orullian also talked about leveraging the Games for Windows team's access to Xbox Live Marketplace and its ongoing sales (like the deal of the week). He mentioned that cross-promotional deals like a blanket 10% off a publisher's catalog between both Xbox Live and Games for Windows Marketplace might not be out of the question in the future.

There are still a lot of questions yet to be answered about this new platform, especially what sort of DRM we're going to be seeing in the games you download from the Marketplace. With only about three weeks to go before the new site launches, I expect we'll see more firm details in the near future. Meanwhile, how do you feel about making all your purchases through Steam? Any interest in doing this invisible e-commerce thing straight through the Web?
 

Staff
#2 Edited by Raakill (870 posts) -

Too late Microsoft.

#3 Posted by Darkraven (171 posts) -

nice

#4 Posted by Ohvee (145 posts) -

Well, that's a different approach. Going to be hard to pull people away from steam...

#5 Posted by Bakath (32 posts) -

 They need a bigger catalog and more achievement filled games :)
#6 Posted by Blueman (753 posts) -

Too little, too late.

#7 Posted by mosdl (3228 posts) -

Steam might be able to download faster than your browser - steam for me seems to be able to max my connection out pretty well in the US.

#8 Posted by djaoni (339 posts) -

It could work if they start porting over XBLA/360 exclusives that you can't get anywhere else on PC but if they're just gonna compete with Steam then it's bound to fail.

#9 Posted by Mikemcn (6982 posts) -

Explain to me what the benefit is of having a web based client, the steam client doesn't take long to download at all on a different computer and you only need to do it once.

#10 Posted by Chibi_Kaji (170 posts) -

Better late then never...Right?

#11 Posted by Raymayne (1226 posts) -

Nicely played Microsoft, nicely played.

#12 Posted by Manloi (44 posts) -

I think they should add "Cloud" Base Save system. It kinda suck when you lost all your saves by accident. Look at Gears of War in PC. My achievements will be like a long long journey.

#13 Posted by 234r2we232 (3181 posts) -

I hear there's this thing called Steam which is pretty popular as a platform for playing PC games. I think this may be too little, too late for Microsoft.

#14 Posted by phrosnite (3518 posts) -

Depends on the prices of the games... I'm real cheap...

#15 Edited by wolf_blitzer85 (5254 posts) -

So it's basically D2D? The thing I like about steam is that I can click to install and not have to worry about moving files around and all that crap. It just works. 
 
This is cool too, but I prefer a user side client that keeps all my games in one nice little package. 
 
Keep at it Microsoft. You'll figure it out someday.

#16 Posted by Suigyoken (188 posts) -

If they pushed it more by ads on the Xbox dashboard then maybe it'll pick up. Not many people know about the GFWL marketplace and steam already, so it'd be natural to get the word out. And it looks like Microsoft has been doing more weekly deals like Steam... so I'd like it to pick up so I have more places to save money.

#17 Posted by SonicFire (821 posts) -

I think this is a non-issue, Microsoft will be happy to stay as close to MSRP at all times. PC games have come to expect ridiculous and awesome sales on Steam. By comparison, all microsoft will do is slightly discount a particular item from time to time, usually well after anyone interested would have bought it.
#18 Posted by adoggz (2065 posts) -

i prefer 360 chivies to steam so i'd use this. step up the chevies microsoft.

#19 Posted by Cal45 (6 posts) -

Doesn't seem that bad

#20 Posted by eulogize_my_baked_goods (137 posts) -

It will all come down to how streamlined the experience is and with years of experience under its belt Steam is pretty hard to beat on that front. Either way MS have had an online software store on the PC for years and I don't recall it being that highly sought after. TBH this seems like more of a way to focus sales on that wider store front (in the same way that the XBox finally broke MS into the living room space where all their earlier 'media box' initiatives had failed) rather than them specifically taking on Steam.

#21 Posted by thamster (22 posts) -

yeah but it's still a step in the right direction. finally.

#22 Posted by zityz (2360 posts) -

Whats the point? You download steam right off the bat and grab everything and use its features before downloading something, or you buy a GFWL and use the Live app after you buy the game. Ether way there still is a app involved so this does nothing to sway mircosoft. 
 
Besides Steam will always be on top anyway. I do not see microsoft giving out those insane deals Steam has, not to mention graphic card installs, stat tracking, a quicker on the fly chat system. I'm glad they're putting some more effort into PC because everyone wins but as for features wise. zero point.

#23 Posted by DarkWaterSong (93 posts) -

First the Steam Client vs GFW client.
 
Steam takes up more memory, and system resources but is stable.  It also auto-downloads updates and remembers the licensing info for every game you ever bought.  Next it can be installed on any PC, and you can download any play your games to it.  I have also noticed that most games saves are backed up, and move to the new PC.
 
GFW takes up less memory, and only needs to be run when you are in a game.  Problem though, it is ustable as hell and you are often forced to install an update that will force you to reboot before you can play a game.  Next patches only download when you play a game, not at 4am when you are sleeping.
 
So I would say the the GFW client clearly losses the battle.  Heck, I almost jumped for joy when I found out that Fallout New Vegas was through Steam.
 
Now to the websites....if MS is working on something like gog.com and I can get former Xbox exclusive like Explosion Man, then they will get about as much of my money as Steam does.  In the end it will come down to who has better indiy games.

#24 Posted by Ceebs (14 posts) -
 @djaoni said:
" It could work if they start porting over XBLA/360 exclusives that you can't get anywhere else on PC but if they're just gonna compete with Steam then it's bound to fail. "
Spot on. If they really want to compete in this space they need exclusives you can't get on the other services. Fable III looks to be one of them, but why not port over some of the year old XBLA or 360 titles. Things like Shadow Complex or Forza 3 have already tapped out the 360 userbase, why not offer them to the PC crowd and use them to grow your DD marketplace. Have the retail keys tie the game to your GFW store account similar to Steamworks to get retail purchasers looking at your store as well. I get that you do not want to diminish the selling points of your console, but you do need something to get people to use your service instead of the well established services that already exist.
#25 Posted by Peewi (410 posts) -
@DarkWaterSong:
Unless you're referring to the in-game stuff, the GFWL client is the marketplace and downloader, so of course it uses less memory.

Actually being able to see what games and DLC is available and how much it costs is a step in the right direction, but it just feels like it's too late. Many people have decided that they don't like GFWL and don't want to give it a second chance. 
#26 Posted by Megasoum (354 posts) -

I guess you will still have to use the stupid MS Points to buy stuff on the website?

#27 Posted by TIIME (14 posts) -

Let's see here... 
Steam has thirty million active users. Check. 
Games for Windows won't sell games with Steamworks. Hmm...Well then. 
Here's to you Microsoft, for your upcoming annual colossal failure.

#28 Posted by zaglis (909 posts) -

Gow 3 PC, Microsoft . 
Do it.

#29 Posted by Lokno (386 posts) -

Boooooooooo

#30 Posted by Gregomasta (1541 posts) -
@djaoni:   I agree, I would like to play my XBLA purchased games on my PC.
#31 Posted by CommanderZx2 (134 posts) -

The only way this could possibly be successfull is if Microsoft started publishing exclusives and sold them purely through this service bypassing both retail and all other digital services.
 
If MS sold Fable 3, Halo 3, reach, ODST, gears of war 2, etc as exclusives to this service then it may gain interest. Otherwise no chance at all.

#32 Posted by HarrySound (233 posts) -

Won't work for a simple reason....price. 
Nothing in the world can beat steam on price,which is why people keep going back. 
Steam make hardly any money on a single sale but it all adds up and there are too many loyal followers to steam for it to stop. 
Well done vavle. 
Valve = Value

#33 Posted by Smersh (228 posts) -

Love Valve and Steam, wouldn't bother with MS clone-wares.

#34 Edited by Brackynews (4065 posts) -

Hey it's black. I heard that's the new white.
/soracist
But really, I'm not sure if they are so much cutting out the software middleman, considering they also own all the technology to actually play the games. It was supposed to provide a similar experience to the 360 dash, but why maintain an app when you can just maintain a website? These days I queue and buy a lot of my XBL stuff in-browser. It's just plain faster than the dashboard.

The Steam client is pretty slim, I think.  The GFWL client not so much, and it fails downloads and installations pretty regularly for me.

#35 Posted by JJOR64 (18956 posts) -

Depends on the games and prices.  I'll keep an eye out for it.

#36 Posted by Olivaw (1215 posts) -

Hey I've got a GREAT IDEA.
 
Maybe fix your BUSTED-ASS CLIENT before inventing some new way for me to buy games that will inevitably be forced to use your BUSTED-ASS CLIENT.
 
All my complaints with Games for Windows Live are about how shitty and awful and poorly thought out every aspect of the BUSTED-ASS CLIENT is. Not that I don't want to buy games through it. Although I don't, because Steam is better in every single regard.
 
What the hell are you doing, Microsoft. Just give up already. This is so pathetic.

#37 Posted by Daveyo520 (6686 posts) -

I just wish they let me buy/play XBLA games on my PC already.

#38 Posted by tourgen (4474 posts) -

wut?  This makes no sense.  Steam IS a web-based system.  The client is pretty much a Webkit based browser with a bunch of other useful stuff built in to make gaming BETTER - voice chat, text chat, groups, etc.  Pretty much a specialized "browser".
 
The DRM is going to be the only thing I care about.  If there is a method for resale or if it's actually DRM-free I'll switch over.

#39 Posted by dox (110 posts) -

They made xbox.com a lot more usable recently.

#40 Posted by Humanoid (206 posts) -
@hematurge said:
" Too late Microsoft. "
He's right. It's far too late for Microsoft.
#41 Posted by Jeffk38uk (715 posts) -

I guess the hope for old Microsoft published PC titles on Steam will continue to be just a dream then.

#42 Posted by Meteora (5787 posts) -

Don't really see the point. Microsoft should just give up and let Steam manage things from here.

#43 Posted by IncredibleBulk92 (936 posts) -

Why won't they actually announce that Fable 3 is going to be a part of this service? Are they that worried about the sales of the 360 version suffering a little?   I've lost interest in my 360, I'll wait for the PC release.

#44 Posted by Jedted (2346 posts) -

I don't know why MS didn't do this sooner?  Especially since they started selling more game digitally through XBL.  I supposed they had to use their brains sooner or later. 
#45 Edited by xyzygy (9953 posts) -

I like this approach because there is no dependency like there is for Steam. You just save the game like you would any other file and it's yours. Nice.

Online
#46 Posted by BaconGames (3371 posts) -

People talk mess but Steam is only one of many digital distribution methods and it's Microsoft making a smart decision in not letting Valve have the largest market share.  Why are people shitting on more options?  Not to mention it pools all GFWL games into one service telling you what games have PC Live achievements.
 
I've wanted a Microsoft games marketplace for years because without it there is literally 0 chance that games that are exclusive to the console are coming.  Imagine the crazy money they would make if they released exclusive XBLA titles or even just straight up exclusives.  Another great feature would be putting achievements into the PC version of 360 games that don't have them on the PC (at least if you buy it from them going forward).  That way if someone wants say Mass Effect 2 with achievements they have to get it on the 360 or this marketplace.  The PC market is also way more quick to discount and Steam as competition means more Live titles will get on sale, even on the console.
 
The only downside is they'll still make you get MS points to buy this shit which isn't cool.
 
So in summary:
 
More options = good thing
Potential console exclusives coming to the PC = yay
Adding achievements to PC versions of games = double yay
Promoting more digital sales for both MS platforms = woo
 
Using MS points to buy all this = super boo.

#47 Posted by Dork_Metamorphosis (251 posts) -

Yeah I'm down.  Let's try this. 

#48 Posted by No0b0rAmA (1490 posts) -
@hematurge said:
" Too late Microsoft. "
#49 Posted by Tyrax (33 posts) -
@Tuffgong:
" Using MS points to buy all this = super boo. " 
 
I will give younger family members those point cards from the store since they cannot make credit card purchances. So am I all for having a point system available. Also, I believe there is the options to do pure credit card purchase as well, there certainly is in the GFWL client now.
#50 Posted by Lind_L_Taylor (3963 posts) -

God, they're greedy.  Let's crush all the smaller successful
systems out there & steal their profits.  I've got a lot tied to
Steam so I won't be bothering with a separate Gawful, I don't
care what is offered.
 
It's probably because people are giving up on Xbox & going
back to the PC because they're tired of the constant hands
coming out of their machines asking for money for DLC &
other shit.  Perhaps they will charge these PC players $60
a year for gaming access too.

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