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Games For Windows Live Update Coming Soon

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the gee-eff-dubya dept.

Windows 46

CVG is reporting that Microsoft will soon be rolling out an update to the Games for Windows Live service, their PC gaming equivalent of Xbox Live. Service improvements include offline achievement tracking, a 'joinable' notation near online friends, and some UI enhancements. "Nothing Earth shattering, but its nice to see Microsoft committed to something in the PC department anyway. The last patch (that's 1.1) in case you forgot about it, added DirectX 10 and Windows XP support for future titles along with a plethora of error reporting features. According to Microsoft, it's just the beginning: 'We've come a long way since announcing the vision of Live across multiple Microsoft platforms last year,' reads its pristine press release, 'and are committed to continually refining and bringing future functionality to Games for Windows - Live.'"

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46 comments

plethora (3, Funny)

DarthBender (1071972) | more than 6 years ago | (#20911737)

Would you say it has a plethora of error reporting features?

Re:plethora (1)

Lectoid (891115) | more than 6 years ago | (#20921417)

Forgive me, El Microsoft. I know that I, Jefe, do not have your superior intellect and education. But could it be that once again, you are angry at something else, and are looking to take it out on me?

Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (5, Insightful)

roadkill_cr (1155149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20911789)

...Except Steam is free and has more games that I want.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

raitchison (734047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912145)

The free part is certainly a valid, perhaps a compelling motivator. Though on the XBOX side Live has been a pretty popular service even though there are free alternatives out there.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (2, Insightful)

Tridus (79566) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912411)

I haven't heard of any free alternatives to Xbox live. How do you tell your Xbox to go play on some other (free) network?

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912485)

There is a program for Xbox1, I assume that it works for xbox 360 as well. What it did was basically make a LAN party over the internet. You would join a channel with other players, and this software that ran on your PC would make a virtual private lan with the other parties.

I can't remember the name of the program offhand though..

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912571)

Here we go:

www.xbconnect.com

It is NOT a xbox live alternitive, although you can play multiplayer. It does not use the xbox live option in the game, but rather the LAN setting)

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

raitchison (734047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912733)

There are free alternatives to Xbox Live for the XBOX (such as XBConnect [wikipedia.org] ) but mostly I'm referring to other multiplayer gaming networks that existed for consoles and the PC that were typically set up on a per-game or maybe per-publisher basis.

Obviously Steam is a major success but it was developed and released at about the same time as Xbox live.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

Mattsson (105422) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914029)

Does it only do multiplayer gaming, or does it make it possible to use other "live-like" services?
Otherwise, it's not really a Live alternative, is it? Just an alternative to tp-cables.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

raitchison (734047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914163)

I haven't used it but I'm pretty sure it only allows multiplayer gaming ala system link.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

roadkill_cr (1155149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913015)

The free alternatives you speak of aren't even close to on par with what XBOX Live provides as a service. In fact, XBConnect isn't even related to Live; it's a tunneling service to play certain games online. And while we're talking XBConnect, you have to pay to get all the features of that service, anyways. My point is just that Steam and GfW are essentially the same thing, except one is free and has more games I enjoy. While we're at it, I don't see why I should have to pay for an extra step between me and my game. Most PC games have free services to at least connect you to other people in multiplayer games (save MMORPGs), so why should I pay instead of just walking a few blocks to my local Gamestop for a game?

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (0)

Cheesey (70139) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913449)

It seems like we have been here before:
1. Independent company (Valve) introduces a new type of product (Steam).
2. ??? (Many years pass as legions of Steam bugs are fixed, and Steam goes from being "the hated program that broke Counter Strike" to being pretty useful, even to people who hate DRM.)
3. Independent company makes a profit.
4. Microsoft is angry! (Ballmer throws a chair.) Microsoft clones the product and bundles it with Windows, ensuring that most users will never know about the original.
5. Microsoft profits. The independent company goes bankrupt.

But really I think that "Games for Windows" is a stopgap measure, introduced until the time that all PC gamers have been moved over to the XBox. You can't make Steam for XBox Live. In fact, you can't make anything without paying Microsoft. For Microsoft, that's an even better deal than Windows. It's not just platform lockin, it's platform lockin AND licensing fees AND central control of all product development through licensing.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20939505)

Microsoft themselves said GfW is a measure to strengthen PC gaming. It's in their best interest to keep gaming alive on the PC, otherwise they would lose one big selling point of Windows over other OSes.

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

Das Modell (969371) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914203)

I don't like Steam because the games are tied to it, and I'm not interested in any of the services offered by Steam (I don't really use Xbox Live either).

Re:Gaming for Windows Looks Okay... (1)

witte (681163) | more than 6 years ago | (#20924357)

Use of one service does not exclude use of the other. (Yet.)

As long as (2, Insightful)

dontspitconfetti (1153473) | more than 6 years ago | (#20911857)

As long as it doesn't interupt me while I'm in the middle of a game (ANY game, even Solitare counts) and it doesn't install things that aren't game related (backdoor Windows update?), it's whatever. Not a huge deal to hear they'll be doing this.

Re:As long as (2, Informative)

raitchison (734047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912193)

Can't speak for the games for Windows Live but on the XBOX new messages and notifications aren't too distracting while you are playing a game. I thought it would be much worse.

Interesting to see how this affects the XBOX (2, Insightful)

raitchison (734047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912121)

XBOX Live has been one of the more successful aspects of the entire XBOX franchise, personally I didn't "get it" myself until we got an Xbox 360 a few months ago and started playing with the free 30 day trial, now we have 2 paid XBOX Live memberships (one for me and one for my son), talk about some nice revenue for Microsoft.

One could see an increase in Live for Windows as potentially cannibalizing Xbox sales, as there could be fewer games out there that people might be willing to pony up $$$ for a console for.

On the other hand, if this get more people onto Live, it might get people wanting more and getting a console so they can play more games.

Personally, there aren't that many games out there now (or announced for that matter) that I would be compelled to buy, though as someone with an XBOX Live membership I might be more likely to buy a Live for Windows game knowing I can use my existing account.

Re:Interesting to see how this affects the XBOX (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913395)

I'm curious, what made you change your mind about Xbox Live? I have a 360 as well, but I absolutely refuse to give money to Microsoft to play online, especially because my understanding is that Microsoft doesn't even guarantee dedicated servers for your games. Then again, I'm also a PC gamer, and thus I'm used to free online play as a matter of course, so paying to get basic online play is pretty damn low in my book. Microsoft is really the only company that has it wrong, Nintendo and Sony also have free online play... and Microsoft doesn't even give you anything decent for your money (like dedicated servers). So, I wonder why you changed your mind about it, because I can't fathom anything it has that would win someone over.

Re:Interesting to see how this affects the XBOX (2, Interesting)

Kazzahdrane (882423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913777)

As someone who until about a year ago was a long-time primarily PC gamer, I can see why many fellow PC gamers can't fathom why you would pay £40 a year (works out cheaper in the USA) just to play games online, since as you said PC gamers have been getting that for free for decades now. To be honest, I can't put my finger on it. I got a 360 in January and dutifully made my Live account and played a little bit of Gears online during my first free month, and then didn't bother resubscribing. Over the next few months I got the Gamertags of other friends who had 360s and quietly played my games on my own with the occasional voicechat with a friend.

I think the game that did it was Worms, I decided that since it was apparently really good fun I would get a year of Live as well, and I planned to play my 360 a lot more in the summer so figured I'd get good use out of it. Sadly, my home connection got really bad around that time but in the last couple of months I've been on Live almost every day. Halo 3 obviously means a lot more friends are online than usual, but I've also been experimenting with games I wouldn't normally try (like Burnout) and discovering the online play is fantastic.

What sets it above Sony and Nintendo's services? Well Nintendo's is almost non-existent due to a lack of online games and a lack of infrastructure (friends codes? Please...) - I have a Wii btw and really like the few AAA titles available in the UK - and from what I've heard (from customers we get in work, I have no friends who own a PS3) Sony's service only seems really good to people who haven't experienced Live.

My advice, if you want to give it another go, is to collect Gamertags of friends and arrange to play a game you really like one night. Then find a 48 hour trial code (in loads of 360 games, or get one from a friend), and have a decent session of at least a couple of hours play. Your mileage may vary depending on whether the game has a decent multiplayer mode, but when Live is good it's really good.

Despite the fact that most of the games I play on 360 are singleplayer (Oblivion - Assassin's Creed and Mass Effect shortly), having a gold membership there is really worthwhile to me for when I play online even just once a week and the cost works out at less than the price of admission to a movie once a month - and there doesn't seem to be anything good on at the movies these days! Would I like the Live service to be free as long as the quality of service stayed the same? Damn straight. Do I weep when I look at how badly Nintendo have got their online service wrong and wish I could pay £40 a year to make it as good as Live? Definitely.

/apologies for length, and sounding a bit like a fanboy (which I'm not, or if I am I'm a fanboy of almost every platform).

Re:Interesting to see how this affects the XBOX (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913835)

As best as I can see XBL, it doesn't host servers at all (then it may be worth some incremental fee) but instead it is simply a dispatcher between someone who's hosting a game and any participants that want to play on that game.

They also have a whole bunch of up sells and useless achievements to piss on your friends about, and maybe some demos that are important enough to people.

The only really sad fact of all of this is that beyond Steam on the PC, nobody's been able to do better than XBL. They don't need to be too fancy. Most people will be quite excited over a fully functional easy to use plug and pray networking interconnection for playing their games with. But instead, we have many many failed attempts to pull this off on consoles with EA the only one who stuck it out long enough to even consider being called competition. Even they finally gave up and moved into the XBL farm and here we are.

Re:Interesting to see how this affects the XBOX (1)

raitchison (734047) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914129)

It's really hard to explain, the whole system is really seamlessly integrated so you can keep track of multiple games from multiple publishers, the social network aspect of it is more interesting/less annoying than I thought as well. It's nice that you have "friends" and that you can play with/against those friends on all the games that you both/all have. Of course it also doesn't hurt that Live is so pervasive in the entire Xbox (360 at least) environment.

Like I said, when we got the 360 I never would have thought I would have any interest in getting the $50 (or $40 from Newegg) live gold, but in reality I placed my order when I got the first reminder that my free 30 day membership was going to expire, and at the time we only had one game that had any online component to speak of (Burnout Revenge).

Nintendo WFC has no lobby (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914263)

Nintendo and Sony also have free online play
Unlike Xbox Live, Nintendo's system doesn't have a lobby. In half the games, you can't play online at all without a pair of friend codes. Nintendo doesn't state how to exchange friend codes except that if you try to do it on Nintendo's official forums, you get banned from the forums. In the other half, either you can use friend codes, or you can get a randomly selected opponent and you can't use text or voice chat. This situation is good for parents of under-13 players, but it's not so good for players age 17+. And unlike on Xbox Live, not all games on Nintendo's platform have any online features at all, not even achievements.

Re:Nintendo WFC has no lobby (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914401)

I'm not saying that Nintendo's service is ideal, just that it's free. And achievements are the stupidest thing gaming has ever put forth, I'm damn glad Nintendo doesn't have them.

Nintendo Achievements? (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914935)

...achievements are the stupidest thing gaming has ever put forth, I'm damn glad Nintendo doesn't have them.

How are the tokens earned in Metroid Prime 3 (and shared with Friends), the Trophy's in Super Smash Bros, or a "High Score" board fundamentally different than Achievements?

Re:Nintendo Achievements? (1)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915455)

I don't have the tokens, and the trophys and high score boards don't flash a message up on your screen in the middle of gameplay.

I'm also bitter against achievements because I've actually seen reviews where a cross-platform game had the non-360 versions marked down for not having achievements... which is pretty much the biggest load of crap I've ever seen in a review.

Re:Nintendo Achievements? (1)

trdrstv (986999) | more than 6 years ago | (#20916949)

I don't have the tokens, and the trophys and high score boards don't flash a message up on your screen in the middle of gameplay.

You can turn off notifications in the 360, and that would silence "Achivement Unlocked". Just FYI.

Re:Nintendo Achievements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20918023)

Sounds like someone here got razzed by his friends for having a shitty gamescore. Sucks dude PROTIP: go rent/buy some shitty EA 2k6 games and you're golden.

Not all games on DS/Wii have online score board (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20919125)

How are the tokens earned in Metroid Prime 3 (and shared with Friends), the Trophy's in Super Smash Bros, or a "High Score" board fundamentally different than Achievements?
Because unlike with Xbox Live, not all Wii games and post-WFC DS games have an online high score board. For example, Animal Crossing: Wild World gives rare items for achievements (e.g. feathers for supporting Boondox, golden watering can for a perfect town, fish trophy for landing the biggest sea bass on Fishing Tourney day, etc.) but it does not keep a count of earned achievements, especially one that can be interpreted as a percentage.

Still don't get it (3, Insightful)

jasonmicron (807603) | more than 6 years ago | (#20912493)

Why would anyone pay for a service for PC gaming when just about everything the paid-for service is offering has been free to use on the PC for the last 15+ years?

Most games come with a built-in multiplayer option. X-Fire keeps track of stats & meeting up with your friends - the list goes on.

Nope, won't be paying for that.

Re:Still don't get it (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20913151)

People such as yourself seem quick to forget that multiplayer gaming on the PC wasn't always free...sure, battle.net has been around a while and there were a COUPLE of other things, but you forget about services such as TEN, Dwango, MPlayer, Heat.net, etc...

Re:Still don't get it (1)

cthellis (733202) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914187)

Yes, but see... it evolved PAST that stage, so it's hard to see why it should regress. ;)

I don't mind if folks want to monetize things--even on the PC end--but paying for "online play" access at ALL? Puh-lease. Gamescore is pointless (and before anyone bitches, whatever will hit PSN's Home will be equally pointless, as is any other multi-game "rating" system), and after experiencing automatic online chat on PC more and more, I've come to realize I don't really WANT it except when you already know everyone and are working together. (And it's not like TS and Vent haven't been around for ages.) All you really need is reasonably robust friend-matching and message-sending.

If Microsoft wanted to charge for a whole passle of cool, extra features, I'd have no real issue, but since you need Gold membership "to play online at all..." Fuck it. (Meanwhile, it will bemuse me how many people compare the 360 so favorably to the cost of a gaming PC or a PS3, and completely ignore the fact that they'll be spending a good $250 more over the console's lifespan to do one of the main things they know ahead of time they want to do.)

Re:Still don't get it (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914351)

For me, the $50 a year for a Live Gold membership is well worth it...the service works very well, it's integrated with ALL of my 360 games, and it's layout is fantastic...many people take issue with paying that much a year for online play, but then they forget that people pay $180 a year just to play World of Warcraft...

If the money is worth it to someone, they will have no problem paying...millions of other people share my opinion that it is worth it, and millions of other people don't share my opinion and thus aren't on it. To each his own, I suppose...

Re:Still don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20921009)

Thats just it; what are you paying for $50 a year for exactly? And compare that with what Wow gives you for $180..
WoW:
You are paying for a game server to be run; 24/7, for them to store important game-details about your character online (and ensuring that every other player in the game is stored in a similar way to stop them from cheating). You are paying them to actively police the environment. You are paying them to maintain/update the game. (some updates you pay for by buying the expansion pack; but many are included as part of your monthly subscription - bug updates etc).

Live:
Live just gives you a friends list (like for free on MSN-pc); and the server to maintain that friends list (like for free in MSN).. and the way to talk to your friends voice/text/video.. (msn?) and methods to invite your friends to various games. and also see what your friends are doing currently.

The only thing live adds to gaming that isn't already available is one single place to do it all. And that is not worth $50 /per year/. maybe 50 dollars once off. not every year

I remember using ICQ to keep track of where my friends were playing TF; I would all my TF servers into quake-spy (which was free) to find the (free) quake servers. I could also locate servers with players of specific name in them (for free) - kind of like seeing what my friends were playing .. - and I could choose to join those TF servers. And I would play (for free).

Re:Still don't get it (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#20925509)

I played TFC too. I played a lot of multiplayer games online for free. I also played WoW religiously for nearly 2 years straight (if you include the closed and open betas).

I like playing games online with my 360. That requires paying $50 a year. Would I rather it be free? Of course I would. Do I have an absolute blast with the time I spend on live? Yes I do.

I certainly get my money's worth...of the 20-30 hours a week that I game, roughly 10-15 hours of that is spent playing Live. That's 520 to 780 hours of Live gaming a year for me. That's a lot of great gaming time (and a whole lot of great gaming memories, I might add) for less than the cost of one new 360 game.

Like I said, it's worth it to me. Sorry if that doesn't make sense to you.

Re:Still don't get it (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 6 years ago | (#20919839)

I'd just like to add that on Windows, you can actually play multiplayer even with the FREE membership to GfW Live. For example, with Halo 2 PC, the Silver features are: Achievements, Game Server Browser/Multiplayer, Voice Chat, Text Chat, Friends List (and the associated matchmaking with your friends). With the Gold subscription, that adds... well, Matchmaking. Specifically the system which goes to behemoth efforts to pit you against opponents that suck/rock as much as you do at the game. [reference: http://www.microsoft.com/games/halo2%5D [microsoft.com]

I don't see what's so evil about Live on Windows.

Re:Still don't get it (1)

ToasterMonkey (467067) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914453)

Multiplayer gaming on the PC was free before, during, and after those services were active, with a few exceptions.

Those services were hardly a requirement to play anything online, but maybe a few small games on MPlayer or others. There was some service that allowed IPX games to play over TCP/IP, for a fee, but that serviced died out long ago with IPX games.
QSpy/GameSpy was free and could browse and launch for a ton of games. There wasn't just a couple of free multiplayer online games, MOST were. Doom 95, Quake, Quake 2, Quake 3...... Command & Conquer XYZ123, Warcrafts were free modem to modem, heh. Those were just the big ones, there are a boatload more. Maybe you forgot to install the TCP/IP drivers in Windows 95?

Re:Still don't get it (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20914587)

People such as yourself seem quick to forget that multiplayer gaming on the PC wasn't always free

Pretty much, yes, it was.

but you forget about services such as TEN, Dwango, MPlayer, Heat.net

No, those were matchmaking services. Multiplayer was already available on an "enter the ip address of the server", basis.

Besides those were never that popular outside of what they offered for free. (I vaguely recall using mplayer for something, rainbow six maybe? But I never paid them a dime.

The only reason Xbox live is doing well is because they have the platform so locked up nobody else can introduce any alternatives.

Re:Still don't get it (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20915093)

Yep. Pretty much anything that allowed TCP/IP connections was free. You just had to know the IP of your host. All this talk brings back memories of the serial link cable we made JUST to play some of those old games.

Resistance Fall of Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20921743)

Oh but when Sony tries to show off how great a church is it gets lambasted by that same institution...

It's all about hating sony /sarcasm
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