MSFT: Games for Windows LIVE Had Rocky Start

During an interview at Microsoft's spring showcase, Microsoft's senior producer of interactive entertainment business Kevin Unangst admitted that Games for Windows – LIVE had a rocky start. He blamed the service's original focus of serving as a partner to the console version rather than as a stand-alone service for the PC.

As it stands now, Xbox LIVE for the Xbox 360 console comprises of multiple components whereas the same components are broken up into several clients on the PC. As an example, users must download and install the Zune client to purchase music, movies and television shows. The games aspect is an entirely different client, offering strictly gaming content such as videos, demos, add-ons and full games. Xbox LIVE offers both in one solution while also adding services like Netflix, Facebook and more in the process.

But the biggest factor in the overall failure of Games for Windows – LIVE is the lack of fantastic titles. "The service started with the right intent, which was to bring Achievements, friends, multiplayer gaming and matchmaking in a really great way to PC," he said. "I think because it was designed originally as a partner to the console service more than the PC service, we had a rocky start. We also didn't back it up with the most important thing, which is doing fantastic games to take advantage of the service. A network by itself isn't valuable - there needs to be great games to take advantage."

Unangst said that the platform will evolve thanks to the input from developers like Lionhead and Gas Powered Games. In the interview, he referenced the way Microsoft and Bungie collaborated on Halo and what the Xbox LIVE service needed to make the shooter such a classic hit. Now he has the two studios laying down their requirements for the PC arm of LIVE, and the changes could mark an new direction for the service.

"The Age of Empire team has got a lot of great input and the same can be said for Lionhead, who said 'we're going to build Fable 3 on the PC' and know what they want out of the service," he said. "I think the underpinnings are great, I think it's going to continue to get better. We're also seeing developers get back to development. Epic did a great job of promoting Live with Bulletstorm. They're pleased with the platform and the service is going to continue to get better over time."

He also noted the launch of the new Games for Windows – LIVE Marketplace which now sells both LIVE-enabled and non-LIVE PC games. The stand-alone client has also received an overhaul, sporting a better interface and a larger collection of titles. But there's no social element, no way to chat with friends who may be signed onto LIVE from another PC or Xbox 360 console – that's probably saved for the stand-alone Windows Live Messenger chat client.

Ultimately Windows-based users should have one client that combines LIVE with Zune, a one-stop desktop shop that offers movies, TV shows, music and games all in one place as seen with Xbox LIVE. Unfortunately, that may never happen.

  • 11796pcs
    No sh*t sherlock. It doesn't help that half the people that use the service think it's terrible.
  • greatsaltedone
    Ugh, any system where I have to buy points externally and use those to pick up software makes me so frustrated.

    Of course microsoft can't just interface with steam, no they have to reinvent the damned wheel and make a crappy service nobody wants to use but have to because they throw a massive amount of money at developers.

    It pisses me off and goes against every idea of what personal computing should be.
  • cletus_slackjawd
    I highly doubt that Microsoft will ever be able to compete with the steam service. They would have to pull off some kind of miracle and then I still don't see it. There only possible hope would be to copy it exactly or just buy them outright.
  • dgriffs
    Didn't microsoft charge for Gfw originally like xbox live gold? Why would pc gamers spend money when there are free, superior alternatives out there?

    It would be nice if there was cross platform pc/xbox gaming. I know the pc gamers are always better and have an advantage but absolutely none of my friends are pc gamers. They all have xboxs.
  • eddieroolz
    I was not even aware it had launched. I suppose that counts as a rocky start.
  • eklipz330
    11796pcsNo sh*t sherlock. It doesn't help that half the people that use the service think it's terrible.what does help is that they forcibly shove gfwl down our throats with some games that are distributed on STEAM.

  • alidan
    if i can pirate a game, and it has the live experience ripped out of it, what do you think i will do?

    i may buy it, but that game disc will never touch my pc. i despise LIVE, xbox and windows, but i accept that there is nothing i can do but not support it in any way shape or form.
  • Benihana
    cletus_slackjawdI highly doubt that Microsoft will ever be able to compete with the steam service. They would have to pull off some kind of miracle and then I still don't see it. There only possible hope would be to copy it exactly or just buy them outright.Microsoft does have a pretty big collective ass from which to pull stuff out of.

    Hopefully nothing successful comes out, because personally I like buying the permission to play a game for as long as I like, whenever I like, and without any additional fees or recurring subscription costs. :)
  • Anomalyx
    Games for Windows LIVE will get better according to Microsoft.
    Pretty obvious statement to make, considering GFWL can't possibly get any worse. Perhaps they should concentrate on making it actually work... THEN put it in games.
  • scook9
    Try releasing something newer than Gears of War and people may think it is cool.....

    Personally, Games for Windows ruined Halo 2 on my does not run properly on any of my Windows 7 systems.....Gears of War 2 works fine....wish I could say what GoW 2 or 3 looked like on a PC :( Would have also loved to see Halo 3...ODST...Reach....MS shit on the PC gaming community and did not even try to apologize

    If they are interested in Gfw it is for one reason, they still think they can make money off it. They do not give 2 shits about the user experience except for making it easy to insert credit card information