Monday, November 17, 2008

Microsoft Overhauls Games for Windows – Live

In an effort to better serve PC gamers, Microsoft has relaunched its Games for Windows - Live client and a special G4W Live Marketplace is on its way as well.

by James Brightman on Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Microsoft Overhauls Games for Windows – Live

Games for Windows – Live wasn't exactly the most warmly received service when it first launched. Perceptions improved, of course, when Microsoft finally decided to make Games for Windows – Live entirely free to use this past July. Now, however, the Games for Windows team is taking it one step further.

In addition to keeping the standard Achievements, TrueSkill matchmaking, voice and text chat, and single identity (Gamertag) for players that works across both Windows and Xbox 360, Microsoft is enhancing the service with a new user interface designed with PC gamers in mind. The new client is available now, and in the next two to three weeks Microsoft will also launch a special Games for Windows – Live Marketplace (similar to Xbox Live Marketplace), where users can download game trailers, demos and add-on game content.

"The online space is and will remain the driving force behind Windows gaming, and we're taking steps to ensure that Games for Windows — Live provides a unique online home for PC gamers," said John Schappert, corporate vice president of Live, Software and Studios at Microsoft. "This new release was designed specifically with our community of PC gamers and game developers in mind. It's a natural next step in delivering a world-class online service for Windows gamers."

In a pre-brief meeting, Marketing Manager Michael Wolf told GameDaily BIZ, "We've revisited the concept [for Games for Windows – Live]. Rather than offer an 'Xbox Live for Windows' type experience, let's optimize the service for PC gamers – let's make a great PC online gaming service. As a result of that, we completely redid the interface."

We asked Wolf if Microsoft felt pressure from other online services such as Valve's popular Steam, but he said that wasn't really the impetus for this relaunch. "We offer things they don't offer; we see our service as being fairly complementary to what they're doing," he asserted. "They've got a great digital distribution story to tell, but we offer things like matchmaking and a singular identity that goes across Windows and Xbox 360."

We also wondered if Games for Windows – Live would incorporate Avatars given that the New Xbox Experience is launching in about a week. Wolf, however, said that Microsoft was not looking to do "feature for feature parity" with the New Xbox Experience or Xbox Live. "Even though there's a lot of crossover between console players and PC players, it's still kind of a different audience, so we're trying to do things that really optimize the service for PC gamers. So down the line there may be diverging features – stuff you can do on the PC that you can't do on the Xbox 360 and vice versa," Wolf said.

Microsoft noted that Games for Windows – Live is "an integral part" of many of the top titles for the PC, including GTA IV, Fallout 3, James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace, Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II, Red Faction: Guerrilla and Battlestations: Pacific. In fact, Fallout 3, which has shipped nearly five million units and generated sales of more than $300 million, will be the first title to offer premium downloadable content directly to gamers via the Games for Windows — Live Marketplace.

"Games for Windows — Live helps us expand the Fallout 3 universe and bring the full experience directly to gamers," said Pete Hines, vice president of public relations and marketing for Bethesda Softworks. "Through the Marketplace we now have a no-nonsense way to deliver updates and great downloadable content. It's really a complete package, and a great fit for Fallout 3."

We'll be bringing you more from our interview with Michael Wolf in the very near future. Stay tuned.

via GameDaily

Jason Kiwaluk

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