Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Pay Attention: This is what a GFWL Gamer Looks Like



Everyone, meet CoolingGibbon, diehard GFWL gamer.

I’ve been in contact with him over the past several weeks, asking some questions and generally trying to get a better idea of what motivates him to use GFWL. Read on for the transcript of our email interview.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I’m a 22-yr old guy currently pursuing a computer science degree. I’ve been a PC gamer for over 8 years, before which I used to game on a NES and Gameboy as a kid. But after being introduced to classics like Wolf 3D, Quake and Half-Life… I decided to move over to PCs completely. And I’m glad to say that I find the PC undoubtedly the best platform for any serious gamer.

How did you get into GFWL?

My first introduction to GFWL was with Halo 2 a little more than a year ago, which I happened to play over at my cousin’s place. I had kinda expected the whole GFWL thing to be some sort of generic branding for Microsoft-endorsed games. But I eventually realized that it was something more. Of course, back then, it really wasn’t much at all, and offered limited functionality. But, I loved the idea of what it could eventually become, with achievements, TruSkill, and of course, cross-platform play. Most of all… it was a big step in the right direction for PC gaming… standardization. But it didn’t really catch on, with a host of gamers complaining about the paid aspects of the service. In other words, the idea was right, but the initial implementation was a bit off. But hopefully, GFWL has come quite a long way in a short time I believe, so I’d definitely want to see the service improve even more.

What do you like most about GFWL?

Standardization… a unified platform for online gaming. I mean let’s face it… there’s such a degree of customization you can achieve with your PC gaming experience that you can’t with consoles. However, the flip side of this is that there’s no defined standard for developers to build upon… leading to a lot of issues for the end user. So in my opinion, a lot of things would be simplified if there was a unified online framework that would cater to all PC games. Of course, there would also be choice, considering the PC is an open platform, but the option of using an umbrella platform should always be made available for developers should they choose to use it.

And of course, there’s the community. GFWL can really help to bring PC gamers together. There is a lot of fragmentation in PC gaming, and that ultimately doesn’t help. The PC is the largest gaming platform in the world in terms of gamers, but the entire foundation is so scattered that it takes a lot of time just for new features to be pushed out to users, with no base for feedback. There should be a direct connection between PC game developers and the gamers, which can be achieved much faster if the whole PC gaming ecosystem is somewhat streamlined, without sacrificing choice.

Other services offer more games for download, have more mature multiplayer support, have more market penetration… what is it about GFWL that makes you use it above other options?

Among the other services that are considered as alternatives to GFWL, I’d say Steam takes the cake. Services like Steam, D2D, GameTap, all have a handful of features that are beneficial for the PC gamer. But they still have a lot of catchup to play when it comes to well-defined online frameworks like Xbox LIVE or PSN. For example, pretty much all Xbox 360 games support Xbox LIVE, that is, all games have their online features tailor-made for Xbox LIVE. However, when you look at the PC, it’s hard to find a similar service. Steam or any other PC-centric service only cater to a handful of games.

Now, GFWL is also pretty much in the same boat as Steam; the library of games is too small. However, GFWL has an advantage… it’s brother, Xbox LIVE. Both are meant to be compatible with each other, so theoretically, if it exists on XBL, you can expect it to be on GFWL eventually. So the work is already cut out for GFWL in this regard; it simply needs to bring over the features from XBL to make it a killer service. Other services, however, don’t have this advantage… and they have to start from scratch… and that of course, leads to a lot of time being required for the introduction of new features. Let’s take cross-platform play for example… it a wonderful idea, uniting Xbox 360 and PC gamers. With GFWL, it’s easier because it is essentially the same as XBL, so there’s a remarkable level of compatibility between the two. And achievements… they add value to the gameplay experience.

In other words, I like GFWL simply because of it’s potential. It may not be there yet, but with valuable input from the community, I’m sure it’ll keep evolving rapidly.

What do you say to people who think it isn’t worth it to switch from Steam, or use GFWL in addition to Steam?

There has been a lot of bias against GFWL, and I mean a lot. But in these cases, I leave it on the gamers themselves to decide… if you think Steam or any other service works for you perfectly, fine, stick with it. But to those who are quick to jump the gun and say stuff like “M$ GFWL Suxx” or something, really need to grow up and give GFWL a proper try. Of course, a lot of people use both Steam and GFWL, and I feel that’s absolutely fine, and only goes to show both the services can and should co-exist. That way it is beneficial for PC gaming in general.

You’re one of the more vocal members of the GFWL forums. How do you contribute to the community there?

Well, my contributions are somewhat limited to helping people with issues they frequently experience with the GFWL service, other than discussing whatever little ideas that spring up in my mind with other members! Apart from that, I read up blogs and articles about GFWL, and try to get a picture of what people are thinking and saying about it. A lot of people come up with amazing ideas, while quite a few are far more critical of it. I simply try to spread GFWL, so that people are made aware of it. Of course, I’d say my fellow members like K00pa Tr00pa, Darkest Soul X21 and TheWeaponeer have been there from the time when the community first started, and thanks to them and the LIVE Team, we have such a vibrant group of gamers. And I’m glad to say, currently our community has 6500+ members, along with regular game nights hosted by the senior members. Eventually, we all try to make sure GFWL gets noticed by all developers and gamers, because we feel everyone should try it out and judge for themselves whether it’s a good thing for PC gaming for not.

There are several grassroots efforts currently underway to bring more games to LIVE. Can you tell us about them?

Certainly. The immediate goal of GFWL is to garner support from more developers and publishers. The framework is there, it just needs to be used. Now, with the recent addition of the GFWL marketplace, the foundations have been laid for developers to showcase their wares, whether it be DLC or full games. And things can only get better for developers with the announcement of the next GFWL update, bringing with it a zero-day anti-piracy solution followed by an in-game marketplace. In other words, these are features which I believe will encourage more developers and publishers to bring their games over to GFWL.

Furthermore, we as a community are also trying to achieve more publicity for GFWL. If more people know the facts about GFWL, the sooner it will diversify, leading to more games being brought over.

What do you think GFWL needs to add that other services already have?

Right now, the most important thing I can think of is a larger library of games, followed by enhanced client features similar to that of, say, Xfire. Also, full game downloads and more content for the Marketplace would also be highly welcome.

And let’s not forget about the GFWL Arcade; that could provide a popular platform of choice for indie game developers to distribute their titles. As such, the PC has the largest number of free games for anyone to download and enjoy, hence providing a platform for the growth of such games is nothing but good news for the gaming scene.

There was a big update announced recently for GFWL, which is going to be rolled out this summer. What do you think of it?

I think it’s a good decision on the team’s part to focus more on developer-friendly features for the next update, rather than direct end-user ones. Everyone of us realizes we need the games first and foremost; other features can be introduced eventually as the service expands, bringing more games and gamers into its fold.

How many of the changes came about because of suggestions in the forums?

Since the introduction of the marketplace, there has been a lot of demand for it’s improvement over at the forums, so I think it’s good news for everyone that the next update will bring with it a better marketplace that can be accessed in-game, instead of through the standalone client. This will obviously allow for a more direct developer-gamer relationship.

And of course, I hope that most of the bugs that have been discovered with the help of community members, have also been fixed in the next update.

What upcoming games are coming to GFWL?

Currently we have 6 titles in the pipeline, including Battlestations Pacific, FUEL, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Red Faction: Guerilla, Dirt 2 and The Crossing. However, it has been confirmed by Drew Johnston that 6 more titles (which are as of yet unnamed) arriving soon. So I think it’s gonna be a pretty busy year for GFWL gamers.

What do you think is the future of GFWL?

Well, I think GFWL has a bright and shiny future ahead of it, since the only way it can go is up, thanks to both the LIVE Team and the enthusiastic community. GFWL has been through rough weather I admit, but eventually we all hope it will succeed as the online platform of choice for developers and gamers. Also, valuable feedback from users can only help to make GFWL a polished and full-featured service catering to the needs of PC gamers.

What do you think it will take for GFWL to be the PC multiplayer platform of choice?

I believe it has to be the support of developers and gamers ultimately. GFWL has the potential, and now it has a proper community to steer it forward. Things are definitely improving, but certainly there’s a lot to be done. And given time, it can be achieved.

I’d like to add that all naysayers about GFWL should at least give it a proper try before coming to any sort of conclusion. It’s a great service, with a great community. Any problems regarding GFWL can be posted at the forums, and hence attended to easily. So all are welcome to make themselves heard.

*End Interview*

There you have it – the unedited, optimistic, and passionate response of a GFWL gamer. I’ve recently committed to checking out Games For Windows Live when I return to the US, and I’d encourage others to do the same. At worst, you’ll just confirm that you don’t much care for it, and move on. At best, you’ll find you really like the service, and you’ll be in on the ground level when it goes from fledgling service to robust, fully-connected counterpart to Xbox Live.


April 18, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming, Interview | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Steam has to play catchup to GFWL?


    Comment by Nick | March 16, 2010 | Reply

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