The newly updated Games for Windows – Live launched today to minimal fanfare. Microsoft’s answer to the insanely popular Steam, which is run by Valve, has been out for some time, but for the most part has been a stagnant service when compared to the gaming insanity of Steam. But Microsoft has revamped the look of the service and made some changes to try to entice PC gamers to their side once again.
Besides the obvious aesthetic revamping, the actual site runs a lot quicker. There will be weekly deals as usual, but now daily deals are being thrown into the mix. This is definitely a welcome change as Steam is known for the copious amounts of deals that are put on throughout the week. If any digital platform hopes to survive they need to battle on price, and Steam is currently the big winner.
One of the biggest positives for using GFWL (Games for Windows-Live) has been the fact it’s LIVE service is identical to the Xbox version, so gamers can jump back and forth between console and PC. This is still the case and allows gamers to find and chat with friends online regardless of what they are doing.
There is a handy chart on Gamesforwindows.com that compares itself to Steam and shows the positives of using the LIVE service. One of the biggest has to do with the actual DRM that is being employed by Microsoft. With Steam one must be online and logged in to the Steam client to actually play any purchased games. If online is not available, the client needs to be switched to offline mode, but this must be done while connected to the internet. This sort of foresight is not always the case and can cause problems. Also, if a Steam account is banned or stolen, all games are lost for good. With GFWL it is possible to play all games with the LIVE client disabled. It is even possible to launch games directly from the desktop without the use of the client whatsoever. The only reason to use it is if there is a desire to take advantage of the features that LIVE provides.
Currently the titles available look to be about the same as to what has been available, but Microsoft has promised to release titles on a more timely basis. This is what will keep customers coming back. If the service stagnates again, especially compared to the weekly launches of titles on Steam, then GFWL will have a tough time surviving.
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