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.
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.
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."
Hitman: Absolution gets Steamworks and DX11 support: "Hitman's suit looks ten times more awesome on PC"
Owen has clubbed a guard, nabbed his clothes and wandered casually out of an IO Interactive Gamescom meeting with details of some of the PC-only features we can look forward to from Agent 47's October outing. If you have a DirectX 10 card you'll be able to enjoy increased texture and gesture resolution, better shadows, sharper visuals and more. If you have a DirectX 11 card, Absolution will look even better thanks to the integration of top level visual tricks like bokeh filtering and tessellation into IO's Glacier 2 engine. Steamworks support means we'll be able to upload our saves to the cloud and resume your campaign on any PC. Nice.
IO Interactive's Jonas Meyer headed up the presentation. He says that IO "want the game to look as awesome as possible" and promises that "Hitman's suit looks ten times more awesome on PC."
On Friday, we showed you my favorite items, equipment, and tool mods built by players that are currently available in Dota 2's store through Steam Workshop.
Today, we take a look under the hood and browse the unrefined, experimental, and sometimes creepy suggestions waiting for judgement in the Steam Workshop. Let's skip the creepy and go straight through 12 of our favorites.
One of the smartest things Valve's done with Dota 2 is hook it up to Steam Workshop--the curated platform provided by Valve for players to create and submit mods for the game. The community can vote for the ones they like and, if Valve agrees, it'll get added to the game.
Once added, players can either earn the items by leveling up and playing games through the matchmaking system, trade for them with other players, or just flat-out buy them for cash from Valve.
Dota 2's community has only just begun to scratch the surface of the potential hero skins, ability mods, announcer voice packs, and courier upgrades. Here are my favorites of what's out there so far.
"[DOTA 2] is going to be free-to-play. It'll have some twists, but that's the easiest way for people to think about it."
As reported by Polygon, that's what Gabe Newell had to say on a recent Seven Day Cool Down podcast. Valve's big wheel has already admitted to playing the MOBA for a staggering 800 hours, and now he's talking cash. Valve have already developed some interesting ideas on how to reward valued members of the community: the Team Fortress 2 workshop allows people to create in-game items, and make a significant profit if they sell. Now Valve are hoping to reward player's good behaviour too.
Beggars can't be choosers. We're finally getting a chance to strike fear into Alan Wake's baddies with our mighty flashlight, so we should just-- aw, screw it. I'd really, really prefer that GFWL keeps its clumsy mitts off my favorite game hero whose name is a pun. I imagine most PC gamers feel the same.
And Remedy's listening. This time around, Microsoft's not in the picture, so neither is GFWL. Instead, Remedy's self-publishing the game on Steam, which means it's officially kicking GFWL to the curb. We waited, and good things came. At this rate, I fully expect a PC port of Halo 3 that includes a full suit of Master Chief armor and keys to a real-life Warthog.
Valve's director of business development thinks digital games charts are a backwards step for the games industry.
Speaking to MCV, Jason Holtman said "The idea of a chart is old. It came from people trying to aggregate disaggregated information." He also claimed that charting sales proves "less useful in the digital space."
Read on for the details.
Valve have been experiencing some pretty notable success recently with the new microtransaction system in Team Fortress 2. We recently discovered that the TF2 store sells plenty of its most expensive items, and has been welcomed pretty much whole-heartedly by the community. Now, Valve hope to teach others what they've learnt through TF2 experimentation and help their partners implement microtransactions into their own Steamworks games. Read on for the details.
Valve CEO Gabe Newell has been speaking out about Steam's success, saying that, per employee, Valve is more profitable than Google and Apple. Estimates say that Steam controls between 50% and 70% of the PC download market and is "tremendously profitable."
Dawn of War Retribution is almost here. It won't be using Games for Windows Live. We've been talking to Relic about their decision to drop the service and go with Steamworks alone for Dawn of War 2: Retribution.
Relic have just announced that they've dropped Games for Windows Live for Dawn of War II: Retribution, their upcoming expandalone campaign for their strategy/co-op tactics hybrid set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. They've prepared a statement, copied below. We also innocently asked them the obvious question: what was wrong with Games for Windows Live?
I was at Valve last month to interview pretty much everyone I could find, and play one of the most exciting PC games on the horizon: Portal 2. The preview I wrote, and the profile on Valve themselves, is in the new issue of PC Gamer in the UK. But we've also been putting up the interviews here on the site, one a day for the last week.
Today's is the final part, in which I ask Gabe and co the big questions: what's the point of Steamworks? Is piracy a solved problem? And where's Episode Three? I wasn't optimistic that they'd be willing to talk about it, but I couldn't leave without asking. I'm afraid it didn't go any better than I expected, but I've included the transcript so you can read for yourself. What they did tell me was how Steam revived the Russian games market, why Valve's competitors actually help their sales, and how not to do DRM.