I don't know about you, but I'm at the point now that when I hear about games transitioning away from Games for Windows Live, my immediate reaction is surprise that there are still games out there using Games for Windows Live. But there are, among them the popular Capcom titles Resident Evil 5 and Dead Rising 2—but not for much longer.
Games for Windows Live
Games for Windows Live has been in a Schrödinger's service-style quandary since last year, when a (quickly deleted) Age of Empires Online support update claimed it would shut down this July 1st. Ever since, it's been suspended in an atmosphere of non-life: functional, yet dead—many of its games fleeing for the safety of a Steamworks alternative.
Lending credence to its demise was Microsoft's complete lack of follow-up statement. Their silence suggested that they'd rather forget about the existence of the client... and of the PC entirely. Now, though, just over a week before its apparent closure, Microsoft have rumbled into life—their new statement revealing a plan of "continuing to support the Games for Windows Live service".
The list of Games for Windows Live games grows ever-smaller, which is a good thing, as—if their brief (and subsequently deleted) support update last year was correct—it'll be closing in July. Capcom had previously revealed plans to transition Street Fighter IV and Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition, and, for the preposterously initialled SSFIVAE at least, have now announced when that switch will take place.
Few people were happy when it was announced that Dark Souls would call Games For Windows Live home. Now that the service is scheduled to discontinue in July it's both a) vindicating and b) stressful, because what happens to Dark Souls now?
Games for Windows Live is dying, and few tears will be shed for its demise. But concern remains for what will happen to the GFWL titles that haven't shed it like a pustulent pimple by the July 1st death-day. Epic and People Can Fly's score-'em-up Bulletstorm is seemingly the latest victim in the service's final thrashings, as it's been removed from Steam (although is still available on Origin) without word on a possible return.
My favourite thing about the big Games for Windows Live shutdown is that it was never officially confirmed. While originally announced via a message on the Age of Empires Online support page, that update was quickly removed. Since then, the Age of Empires Online support page has also been removed, as part of Microsoft's apparent attempt to hide all evidence that PC gaming even exists. As far as I can see, this is all that remains of Microsoft's non-Windows 8 support.
At least that feeling is mutual, with PC games trying to hide all existence of Games for Windows Live. A further official confirmation of the July 1st switch off date seems almost unnecessary, especially given that many GfWL games are switching over to Steamworks. The latest to do so is Ace Combat: Assault Horizon. Its developers recently announced that owners can manually activate a patch to remove the unwanted client.
Microsoft’s often troubled relationship with PC gaming took a positive step in our eyes when the company hired Jason Holtman, previously the head of Steam at Valve, last summer. Now it looks like the gain was short-lived as it emerges that Holtman has left Microsoft after only six months.
Games for Windows Live will soon be dead (hooray!), here's a list of devs removing it from their games
RIP Games for Windows Live, we hardly knew ye. On second thoughts, we knew ye pretty well, and we hated your malodorous guts - good riddance. Of course, with Microsoft's hated games service going the way of the passenger pigeon (I was going to say dodo, but a load of animals have sadly been made extinct since then), there's the little matter of what's going to happen to all the games infested with GFWL. Will they be playable after July 1st, when the service is being taken out to the woodshed to be shot in the head? It's still unclear, but it doesn't seem likely - unless developers take it upon themselves to patch their games.
So far, only Fallout 3, Bioshock 2, the Arkham games, Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet and Toy Soldiers have extracted the service, leaving a few dozen games with the sword of DRMacles hanging over their heads. Thanks to Joystiq, we now at least know which developers and games are aiming to follow suit.
Like an unpopular and neglected combination of game client, social platform and DRM system, Games for Windows Live is fast approaching its ultimate shutdown. Oh, hold on, that wasn't a clever analogy. That's what Games for Windows Live is. In preparation for its sort-of announced shutdown, a variety of games have been looking at ways to hack off the dying flesh, in the hope that such self-amputation will stop the creep of necrotic tissue, thus ensuring the survival of the host. Okay, that was a better analogy.
With Ultra Street Fighter 4 smashing its way onto the PC sometime early next year, key changes to the next iteration of the venerable fighting game series are starting to be surface. Capcom is altering the game’s battle system with some tweaks to combos as well as working to eliminate the chance of landing a so-called unblockable attack on an opponent.
With BioShock 2 and the Arkham games abandoning the quickly sinking Games for Windows Live ship for the SS Steamworks, players are asking publishers a common question: “Will I be able to play my games after Games for Windows Live is gone?” Capcom started getting the brunt of the attention last week, though it appears the company’s still mapping its escape route.
The tumor that is Games For Windows Live has now been excised from another game - two games, in fact. Following the welcome news that BioShock 2 had been cured of its reliance on Microsoft's insidious service, both Batman: Arkham Asylum and Arkham City have undergone successful surgery, swapping GFWL for the much less awful Steamworks. In honor of being free at last, the games have been given a 75% price cut for this weekend.
It used to be that Games for Windows Live was a heavy weight, dragging down whatever game it latched onto. Now, with the service's shutdown thought to occur next July, that weight has putrefied, like a rotting carcass, steaming from the heat of some great games. As you may have guessed, I'm not sorry to see it go. I'm definitely not sorry if it means existing GfW Live games issue updates that swap it out for a more palatable service. That's what Bioshock 2 has just done: ditching Microsoft's problematic client for Steamworks. As an added bonus, the previously GfW Marketplace exclusive Minerva's Den DLC is now also available on Steam, and has been given to existing Bioshock 2 owners for free.
An update to the Age of Empires Online support page revealed that Games for Windows Live will shut down July 1, 2014, and with it, at least some of AoE Online's features, if not the whole game. The announcement has been removed and replaced with the original text, but here's what it said...
Xbox.com's PC store, the Games for Windows Marketplace, is set to shut down next week, as announced by Microsoft's almost comically outdated Games for Windows Facebook page. According to their post, users will no longer be able to buy games through the service. The Games for Windows Client will still provide access to existing purchases.
A quick exercise, before we begin a day of Hard News: list the various PC game-selling digital storefronts/services by your order of preference. I'm going to guess that, for most people, Steam and GOG will be towards the top; GamesGate, GMG and Desura will be filling out the middle; and that Origin will be the Wildcard - its placing likely dependant around each person's perception of its parent company. Then we have Microsoft, with Games for Windows Live/Marketplace and the Windows Store. Neither is much loved, and neither has earned much reason to be. And, at a guess, Microsoft isn't too happy about that situation.
Which may explain why they've hired Jason Holtman, Valve's former director of business development for Steam. His new focus at Microsoft: PC gaming and entertainment strategy.
Games for Windows Live users have been experiencing problems connecting to the service's servers, leaving some unable to access their online profiles. It's an unusual situation, because the much-loved GfW Live is normally so reliable, and definitely not something we recently described as "one of the most ill-conceived and poorly executed pieces of software it is possible to install on your PC."
...Is how I might begin this story if we were in a parallel universe. Instead, all I can do is offer a resigned shrug and urge publishers to stop putting the bloody thing in their games.
In his Reddit AMA last night ("Ask Me Anything", a Q&A session with users of the site), Ken Levine made a couple of announcements about the development of Bioshock Infinite. When asked about Irrational's commitment to the PC release of the game, he said, "We have a dedicated group on the PC version. Our first priority is making sure that it feels like a game that is at home on the PC."
Yesterday we mentioned that Rockstar are revamping their Social Club social networking network thing. It'll let us log in, set up personal profiles and form multiplayer crews that will carry over from Max Payne 3 to GTA V. The appearance of the Games for Windows logo on one of the screenshots had us wondering whether Max Payne 3 would end up using GfWL. Good news! It won't.
As we reported in September, Xbox Live will be a major part of Windows 8. Despite concerns that PC gamers are being pushed to the sidelines in favour of the console service, this has the potential to be a very good thing. After all, well-integrated support for games could do away with the need for Games for Windows Live, whose primary purpose seems to be to inject a strain of Kafka-esque absurdity into our hobby.
NeoGamr recently asked Microsoft whether GfWL would be receiving the axe with the launch of Windows 8, and the answer, emphatically, is no.