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  1. #1
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    Opinion: Games for Windows Live is Awful, Microsoft Doesn't Care,

    Opinion: Games for Windows Live is Awful, Microsoft Doesn't Care, and Why it Won't Matter Soon

    By Dan Stapleton | Apr 19, 2012 Microsoft can insist otherwise all it wants -- GFWL is on its way to irrelevance.





    Since its debut with Shadowrun and Halo 2 in May 2007, Games for Windows Live has done little but create ill will between Microsoft and PC gamers. Despite repeated insistence that it will improve given time, Microsoft's actions have spoken much louder, and crystal clear: it's demonstrated a neglectful attitude and an unwillingness to compete with Steam's dominance. Yet for some reason refuses to simply pull the plug and put GFWL out of its misery, instead inviting developers to integrate it to their games and bogging down great games like Batman: Arkham City with its inferior and annoying system. The good news is that whether Microsoft will admit it or not, by almost all indications GFWL doesn't have much of a future.

    GFW vs GFWL. The difference is subtle, but extremely important.


    What is Games for Windows Live?

    GFWL is not to be confused with its benign brother, plain-old Games for Windows.
    There's a lot of confusion as to what the words "Games for Windows Live" actually mean, and why they inspire such dread in so many PC gamers when uttered in connection with an anticipated game. Part of that is thanks to some truly awful branding by Microsoft. Not to be confused with its benign brother, plain-old Games for Windows label (which isn't actually software), or the now-defunct Games for Windows Marketplace, GFWL is the Windows side of the Xbox Live network, except without any of the features that make Xbox Live interesting or useful. It does multiplayer matchmaking, a rudimentary friends list, email-like text chat, voice chat, syncing settings over the cloud, cross-platform play (in three games from 2007/200 and achievement tracking. That's the extent of its features, and every single one of them is markedly inferior to Steam. When the stars align, GFWL works well enough that I can pretend it's not there, but that's the highest praise I can give it.

    The last tweak to the UI was made in 2008.


    The problems run deeper than a clumsily designed interface that makes things as simple as asking a friend "Hey, want to play a game with me?" (or replying) harder than they need to be. I have personally encountered all of these problems: installation issues, rendering saved games inaccessible (particularly with Batman games), requiring system reboots for minor updates, and requiring PC gamers to buy Microsoft points to buy DLC. Anecdotally, I've heard gamers outside of North America complain of regional restrictions that prevent GFWL games from working at all in their countries. And annoyingly, people with both PCs and Xboxes complain that they can't log into both at the same time -- if someone else is using Xbox Live to stream Netflix in the other room, logging in on your PC boots them out.

    The only group I've ever heard utter a kind word toward GFWL are the self-proclaimed Achievement $#@!s.
    I'm also frustrated by major feature shortcomings. For example, I can only see if friends are online if I'm already in a game -- there is no desktop application that allows me to see notifications that a friend is playing and join them. I can't even upload a custom avatar image, for crying out loud.

    The only group I've ever heard utter a kind word toward GFWL are the self-proclaimed Achievement $#@!s, gamers who will buy even the worst games to nudge their Xbox Live Gamerscore a little higher. If the only feature that anybody likes about your product is that it makes a completely meaningless number tick up, you are doing it wrong.

    That number is the only thing Steam doesn't have... because Valve doesn't want it to.


    With all of these crippling problems, why would a publisher ever decide to use GFWL at all? It's easier -- if a cross-platform game has already been built to work with Xbox Live, it's a relatively simple process to convert it to GFWL. But if there were ever an example of the idea that nothing worth doing is easy, it would be GFWL. It's a quick, easy, sloppy solution that only barely works, and it's not worth the backlash from gamers who've been burned by it in the past when the alternative services are so vastly better.

    There Is No Hope

    Valve stuck with it, and gradually improved Steam to the point where today it's beloved by most.
    All of that is arguably fixable, and it's certainly true that seven or eight years ago Steam wasn't a whole lot better or well-liked by gamers. But Valve stuck with it, and gradually improved Steam to the point where today it's beloved by most, with the exception of the staunchly anti-online crowd. That's the reason I've completely lost faith that GFWL will ever significantly improve: the utter lack of updates or progress.

    I tried to remember the last time Games for Windows Live added a new feature, however insignificant. I couldn't, and I couldn't find a changelog anywhere detailing the evolution of GFWL, which is now on version 3.5.92.0, because Microsoft doesn't maintain one. So I Googled "Games for Windows Live adds." Limiting the search to the past year, I got five results. Of those, only one refers to something that happened in the past year: the addition of new achievements to Section 8: Prejudice. Doesn't count. The rest are links to a story about the addition of Games on Demand downloads, which happened in December 2009, and are more a feature of Games for Windows Marketplace than GFWL. (It has since moved to its new home at Xbox.com.)
    Link:http://uk.pc.gamespy.com/articles/122/1223378p1.html


    Does anyone actually care about windows live.... We have xbox live and they both are the same in ways
    Plato and Aristotle, a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge

  2. #2
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    From the sounds of it it sounds utter crap but I have not had the misfortune to use it.
    Got to be in a game to check if any of your friends are playing or simply chat to them is mind numbingly stupid and makes the whole social aspect redundant.

    Gamespy should fix their $#@!ty "gamespy arcade" app before they moan about others crappy programs.
    From the looks of it The gamespy website has not had UI updated since 2003.
    Last edited by keefy; 04-21-2012 at 20:42.

  3. #3
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    greed mate... I hate being online on the xbox. But on the p.c would be alot worse in my opinion
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  4. #4
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    I've had the misfortune of using GFWL on a few occasions.


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vulgotha View Post
    I've had the misfortune of using GFWL on a few occasions.

    What were the results? Did you experience what the article says?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by keefy View Post
    What were the results? Did you experience what the article says?
    Yea, it was a pretty stupid experience. It's a worthless service.


  7. #7
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    I've used it a few times too. It's extremely buggy and the UI sucks.
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  8. #8
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    Cracks. Though, I have no issue with it in Arkham City.

  9. #9
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    I completely agree with the article. The only game I played was Halo 2 which was fine back in the day to boost my achievements a little on my XBL gamertag.

  10. #10
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    Its clear to see that Microsoft are on a miss to kill of Windows live
    Plato and Aristotle, a detail of The School of Athens, a fresco by Raphael. Aristotle gestures to the earth, representing his belief in knowledge

  11. #11
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    Games for Windows Live deserves to die and it looks like MS is pretty quickly letting it die but not instantly, so there are a few lingering titles. It is just a completely worthless system, especially if it is imposed on a Steam game. I got a couple of those and now will probably never buy another game that has GFWL. There is a logon to Steam but it is usually just starting the game from there. If it is GFWL then there is another logon screen and it isn't anywhere close to being as user friendly as Steam. Then it really doesn't do anything except make it easy to screw up game saves. It looks like MS is quietly abandoning GFWL but then their new approach is with Flight on Steam, provide a skeleton of a game then DLC it to make it a full game. Yeah, these directions MS is going are nauseating.
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