Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Games for Windows – Live Goes Free

A number of PC gamers are probably thinking, "It's about time," but GFW - Live is now completely free, and GFW is getting its own Live Marketplace. DirectX 11 plans have also been laid out.

by James Brightman on Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Games for Windows – Live Goes Free

During Microsoft's Gamefest 2008 event in Seattle, the company today announced that it's decided to open up its Games for Windows – Live multiplayer features to all users, free of charge. Microsoft has taken some heat from PC gamers and critics for charging for its Live features on PC, especially since many similar features are available for free to PC gamers on other similar offerings.

However, effective today everything – including Achievements, enhanced TruSkill matchmaking, cross-platform play with Xbox 360 (in games that support it), voice and text chat, and a friends list that is consistent across both Windows and Xbox 360 – is now free to all Windows gamers. This change immediately affects all available Games for Windows – Live titles and future games in the pipeline.

Furthermore, in what seems like a move to make Games for Windows – Live more balanced with Xbox Live, Microsoft also announced plans to introduce a Games for Windows – Live marketplace this fall (exact date not announced). The marketplace will offer gamers the usual assortment of downloadable game content (free and paid, determined by the publisher), demos, trailers and more. The in-game interface for GFW – Live apparently is also getting a makeover to make it "much more PC friendly... reducing the technical requirements for developers."

In related PC gaming news, Microsoft also laid out its plans for DirectX 11. Here's the summary from Microsoft:

Direct3D 11, a key component of DirectX 11, will include:
  • Full support (including all DX11 hardware features) on Windows Vista as well as future versions of Windows

  • Compatibility with DirectX 10 and 10.1 hardware, as well as support for new DirectX 11 hardware

  • New compute shader technology that lays the groundwork for the GPU to be used for more than just 3D graphics, so that developers can take advantage of the graphics card as a parallel processor

  • Multi-threaded resource handling that will allow games to better take advantage of multi-core machines

  • Support for tessellation, which blurs the line between super high quality pre-rendered scenes and scenes rendered in real-time, allowing game developers to refine models to be smoother and more attractive when seen up close
  • via GameDaily

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