Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

In All Fairness: Games For Windows Live

First of all, let me start off by saying that I haven’t been too kind to Games For Windows Live in the past. Among other things, I’ve said that nobody is even aware of its existence, that it’s useless so far, and that it needs to be scrapped completely and replaced with something new.

Recently, I’ve made an honest attempt to put my own biases aside and look at the situation objectively. On the one hand, GFWL doesn’t approach the utility of Steam, not by a long shot. That being said, most Steam users have a rather short-term memory about these things – for the first several years of Steam’s existence, it was roundly mocked and derided as little more than Valve’s version of DRM. I’ve had some bad moments with Steam personally, most notably when my computer is temporarily without internet access – Steam throws a righteous fit. GFWL also has some challenges that Steam hasn’t faced, like trying to adequately interface PC gamers with console gamers.

If you haven’t met any of them, GFWL gamers are a passionate bunch. They’re pretty vocal about their platform of choice, and while most will admit that GFWL isn’t perfect, they’ve also got a vested interest in seeing it succeed. I’ve been in contact with one of the more influential members of the GFWL community, trying to figure out what the attraction was for him, etc. While there are obviously multiple motivations, the biggest seems to be the promise of online gaming with Xbox Live users. The idea that someday PC games will support this capability out of the box is one that most GFWL users relish – it’s like their holy grail.

When you think about it, hardcore PC gamers are a bit of a rare breed. By my definition, we are those people who actually use their PCs to play games other than Bejeweled, Peggle, and Solitaire, and invest sizable amounts of money into upgrading our gaming rigs. Most of our friends that game do so on Xbox 360s, with maybe the occasional PS3 owner thrown into the mix. We buy some of the same games as our console brethren, talk about the games with them, even occasionally engage in some multiplayer smackdowns at their houses, but we really don’t get the full experience, if you will. I’ve can count on one hand the number of my friends that game on PCs, and most of us only play the same games when one convinces the others to get a certain title.

The point of all that was to point out that we’re currently missing out on a significant social aspect of multiplayer gaming. Sure, I’ve got people that I game with regularly, but I only know them by their screennames/user IDs/gamertags; I’ve never met any of them in real life. I’d love the chance to frag my best friends on a regular basis. I want to hear their screams of rage, and then see the looks on their faces when I run into them the following day. That’s just not going to be possible on PC until a major player in both markets – oh, I don’t know, Microsoft, for example – puts in the resources necessary to iron out all the kinks.

I’m something of a skeptic right now – most PC games don’t bother participating in the GFWL program at the moment, likely due to the relative youth of the service and the small number of users. I will say this, though: GFWL has some serious potential. It’s users and developer team have the vision and dedication to see it become a success, and I’ve got no doubt that it will happen. I won’t try to predict when that day will come, but rest assured, it will come.

Additionally, I’m going to make a commitment to follow GFWL as it develops. When I return home from China (roughly four months hence), I’m going to resurrect my gaming rig, buy at least one title that supports GFWL, and see what it’s all about.

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April 17, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming, Tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. […] post by Tech + Lifestyle: Enhance Your World […]

    Pingback by In All Fairness: Games For Windows Live | Console Gaming | April 17, 2009 | Reply

  2. Thanks a lot for the GFWL feature Brian!

    Regards,
    CoolingGibbon.

    Comment by CoolingGibbon | April 26, 2009 | Reply

  3. thank you 🙂

    Comment by indir | May 11, 2009 | Reply

  4. also happy to read-read blog
    always successful

    Comment by ivenxadytia | July 19, 2009 | Reply


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