Games for Windows Live Goes Free

Microsoft announced today that Games for Windows – Live, the online multiplayer gaming service for Windows that connects Windows gamers to the Xbox LIVE community, is now completely free.

"Introducing Games for Windows – LIVE, the free gaming service built for Windows that makes great Windows games even better. With Games for Windows – LIVE, you get an online identity – called a gamertag – and a friends list that works across multiple games, the XBOX 360, and even the Zune music service. You can easily find and communicate with your friends online with text and voice chat. Earn achievements and Gamerscore that lets you track and compare your accomplishments. Play multiplayer games with your friends, or play against new opponents online using our exclusive TrueSkill™ matchmaking system – with other Windows® players or with or against XBOX 360 players. All of this is possible today – and at no charge."

Link: GamesForWindows

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18 Comments

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To TickleOnTheTurn:

Steam has a feature where you can make it so it doesnt require you to connect to the internet everytime you play the game, of course it does require it for initial registration if you buy the cd but after that you can put it in Offline mode and not hae to worry about connecting.

As far as Games for Windows Live, isnt it esentially Live Gold? I can see this move fracturing Microsoft's customer base as console gamers will feel alienated having to pay for a service that PC gamers get for free...I can see this causeing troubles.

I would have done the same thing, Tickle, and I happen to have a decent connection. All these subscription-based services ruin the games for me. When I buy a game, I want to install the damn thing and play it; Online registration, membership IDs, passwords and confirmation numbers ruin the fun. Hopefully, developers will return to their roots so these extranneous services will disintegrate.

Steam is so far ahead of the Games for Windows platform that this is simply too little, too late. Microsoft should have been integrating more of the Live platform into Vista for when it shipped. You should have an Live applet that flies out from somewhere (possibly task bar like Live Mesh) that had similar functions to the Xbox 360, i.e. instant access to friends list and what they're playing now. The system should also keep the games up to date, just like Xbox. Unfortunately for Microsoft, this all exists already via Steam.

That actually was the orignal plan. Having an always on, persistant contact list in Vista that you could access even if you were not in a game. But like pretty much everything else Microsoft do, it's been watered down and is just a shell of what it could have been,

I, on the other hand, am grateful Games for Windows LIVE isn't fully integrated and developed. I really dont like the concept (yes, that means I dislike steam).

I'm another Steam/Live etc. hater! I've given up on buying any game (or app) that relies heavily on this kind of service. I don't like Multi Player games at all and with Net access here in the UK getting so expensive it is worth it!

I bought Half Life 2 on CD, installed it and then it wouldn't let me play it until it had updated itself via Steam, which took 2 days!! Then it wouldn't let me play it unless I registered it online and signed in every time I wanted to play. Finally it got the grumps as I reformat my PC every few months as I'm a sucker for trying things that mess up Windows and it started complaining about being pirated!! End result I threw it in the bin and have never bought a Steam connected game since.

(TickleOnTheTum said @ #5.3)
I'm another Steam/Live etc. hater! I've given up on buying any game (or app) that relies heavily on this kind of service. I don't like Multi Player games at all and with Net access here in the UK getting so expensive it is worth it!

I bought Half Life 2 on CD, installed it and then it wouldn't let me play it until it had updated itself via Steam, which took 2 days!! Then it wouldn't let me play it unless I registered it online and signed in every time I wanted to play. Finally it got the grumps as I reformat my PC every few months as I'm a sucker for trying things that mess up Windows and it started complaining about being pirated!! End result I threw it in the bin and have never bought a Steam connected game since.

That's got to suck.. I downloaded The Orange Box (aroung 15gigs) straight to my hard drive and updated completely in 1 hour. I really don't see anything wrong with any of it. Only thing is, I hate having to need an internet connection everytime for HL2..

(Swordnyx said @ #5.4)
That's got to suck.. I downloaded The Orange Box (aroung 15gigs) straight to my hard drive and updated completely in 1 hour. I really don't see anything wrong with any of it. Only thing is, I hate having to need an internet connection everytime for HL2..

... and that's why Steam has an offline mode. Admittedly, you do need to have it at the "latest" version (i.e. you can't exit Steam halfway through updating, start it without a connection, and expect it to run the game), but offline mode in general works well for single-player games now.

Personally I like Steam, more so since they introduced the Community features and ironed out all the problems with Steam Friends. It used to be pretty buggy and nasty, but these days I'd much rather have it than not, especially given how handy it is to just be able to join a friend's game in two clicks.

@TickleOnTheTum, just interested - did you reinstall Steam and redownload everything? Because you can just copy the entire Steam folder elsewhere while you reinstall, and run it afterwards (another feature I like). No reinstall needed.

It's already "out". All past games released under the Games for Windows Live banner are already switched over to the free deal (and from what my friend told me, many more players are playing Gears of War and Halo 2 online now) so you can go and play online with matchmaking and everything now.