With little (no?) fanfare, Microsoft has rolled out an update to its also-ran Games for Windows Live service, ready to shed some of that bad name just in time for this holiday's GFW-branded lineup (think Fallout 3 and GTA IV). So what's in store for you, PC gamers? Mostly, a much needed UI refresh. Gone is the ill-advised, console-inspired Blades interface – in its stead is a much slicker (much quicker!) menu that pops down from the top of the display. All the features you'd expect to be there are there: gamertag, friends list, messaging, achievements. As announced earlier this year, they've also done away with the tiered subscription service for PC gamers. No more "Gold" service – all of this is free, including TrueSkill matchmaking.
Indeed, there isn't much new in the way of functionality with one notable exception: the Marketplace. Though it's not available just yet (we'll let you know when "in the next few weeks"), the standalone Marketplace app will be akin to its 360 counterpart, offering publishers and developers a place to host trailers, demos, and DLC – all integrated into the game. Available now: the ability for a game to alert you to patches, and then download them and seamlessly patch them into your game. Boot it up again and – voila! – you're running the latest release. No messy files to download or delete.
We'll have our writeup of the latest installment in the GFW Live saga tomorrow; however, for now, flip through some of these screenshots from yesteryear to see what's changed. If you've taken it for a spin, let us know what you think. Oh, hell with it: you'll let us know what you think regardless! (Full presser after the break).
Games for Windows - LIVE Levels Up PC Gamers With New In-Game Display, Marketplace and Upcoming Premium Downloadable Content
"Fallout 3," "Grand Theft Auto IV" and "James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace" coming to Games for Windows - LIVE this holiday season.
REDMOND, Wash. - Nov. 13, 2008 - Microsoft Corp. today unveiled significant updates to the Games for Windows - LIVE online gaming service, enhancing the service to provide an unmatched Windows multiplayer experience and excite the growing online gaming community. These compelling changes build on the foundation of Games for Windows - LIVE, which allows gamers to connect and play with their friends for free, and includes unique features such as Achievements, TrueSkill matchmaking, voice and text chat, and a single identity (Gamertag) that works across both Windows and Xbox 360.
- Redesigned for PC Gamers. Available for immediate download, the revitalized in-game display provides quick and easy access to the full set of Games for Windows - LIVE features, optimized for use with a keyboard and mouse, and built from the ground up with PC gamers in mind.
- Games for Windows - LIVE Marketplace. In early December, users will be able to easily download exciting game trailers, demos and add-on game content such as extended chapters and new characters, as well as give publishers a straightforward way to extend the experience of their Games for Windows - LIVE titles for consumers around the world.
"The online space is and will remain the driving force behind Windows gaming, and we're taking steps to ensure that Games for Windows - LIVE provides a unique online home for PC gamers," said John Schappert, corporate vice president of LIVE, Software and Studios at Microsoft. "This new release was designed specifically with our community of PC gamers and game developers in mind. It's a natural next step in delivering a world-class online service for Windows gamers."
The free Games for Windows - LIVE service is an integral part of some of the most popular and highly anticipated games on any platform:
- "Fallout 3" (Bethesda Softworks LLC)
- "Grand Theft Auto IV" (Rockstar Games)
- "James Bond 007: Quantum of Solace" (Activision Publishing Inc.)
- "Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II" (THQ Inc.)
- "Red Faction: Guerrilla" (THQ)
- "Battlestations: Pacific" (Eidos Interactive Ltd.)
Bethesda Softworks' revolutionary hit "Fallout 3" will be the first to distribute premium downloadable content directly to gamers via the Games for Windows - LIVE Marketplace. "Fallout 3" is already a leading candidate for game of the year, and the complete "Fallout" story, including new quests, foes and weapons, will be available exclusively on Games for Windows - LIVE and Xbox LIVE for Xbox 360.
"Games for Windows - LIVE helps us expand the 'Fallout 3' universe and bring the full experience directly to gamers," said Pete Hines, vice president of public relations and marketing for Bethesda Softworks. "Through the Marketplace we now have a no-nonsense way to deliver updates and great downloadable content. It's really a complete package, and a great fit for 'Fallout 3.'"