|Games for Windows - Live logo|
Games for Windows - Live:
|Last Updated||May 27, 2010|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows|
Games for Windows – Live (trademarked as Games for Windows – LIVE) is an online gaming service for Games for Windows-branded PC titles. It enables Windows PCs to connect to the Live service, which will eventually include other devices including Windows Mobile and Zune. Users, each with a unique Gamertag, the Microsoft username service for gaming that began with the Xbox Live, are able to play online, keep track of their friends' status, send and receive messages, gain and keep track of Achievements and associated Gamerscore, voice chat across platforms, and much more. Some games allow for cross-platform play, such as Shadowrun, putting Windows players against Xbox 360 players.
The features of the service will initially be limited, but will grow just as the features of Xbox Live have over the years. The service was shown in near-final form at CES 2007 during Bill Gates' keynote speech.
The service is open to 3rd-party developers, but they must be able to meet certain Technical Certification Requirements (TCRs), which include (but are not limited to): game ratings, total number of Gamerscore points, content, game profiles, and Live connectivity. Games for Windows – Live games must also meet standard Games for Windows (games that do not have Live support) TCRs. The same developer support infrastructure is available as with the Xbox 360. Assistance to developers is provided through the Microsoft XNA Developer Connection.
The first Games for Windows – Live-enabled title was Shadowrun, which launched simultaneously on Windows Vista and Xbox 360 on May 29, 2007, and was also the first LIVE title to offer cross-platform play between Windows Vista and Xbox 360 on the Live service.
Another game that was released is Halo 2 for Windows Vista, which was launched to the public on May 31, 2007. The game supports all the standard Live features (such as achievements, voice chat, messages, etc.), but does not offer cross-platform play with Xbox 360 players.
Sega, Eidos, and THQ have signed on to include Games for Windows – Live in their upcoming games. Epic Games also included this service in their game engine Unreal Engine 3. Universe at War: Earth Assault from Sega and Lost Planet: Colonies Edition from Capcom include cross-platform play between Xbox 360 and Windows over Live.
On July 22, 2008 Microsoft's Chris Satchell, CTO of the company's Entertainment devices division, announced that Games For Windows – Live would be free to developers. Previously, select publishers and developers used the system and had to pay for it. Also, all Games For Windows – Live features were now free for gamers, such as matchmaking and cross-platform play. Satchell added that the move was a "way to improve Windows gaming".
As well as free multiplayer, Microsoft reduced the technical requirements for those developers looking to utilize Live such as removing playlist servers, and allowing studios to use the Microsoft matchmaking servers instead. The new Marketplace was made available for Games for Windows – Live on December 5, 2008. Microsoft also released the newly designed User Interface, on November 12, 2008.
On January 7, 2010 it was announced at CES that the upcoming Xbox Game Room would be made available on both the Xbox Live and Games for Windows Live services. However, games purchased with 240 Microsoft Points will only be playable on one of the platforms; either Xbox 360 or PC. A dual-platform license will cost 400 Microsoft Points. As the Game Room will be available to Gold and Silver Xbox members, the service will be free to use on Games for Windows Live. Arcade games will feature achievements and online leaderboards.
Microsoft revealed on May 21, 2010 that Fable III would be released on Windows as well as the Xbox 360, and would feature Games for Windows – Live. The downloadable version will be a Games on Demand exclusive.
On August 17, 2010 Microsoft unveiled two new games at at Gamescom 2010 that will use Games for Windows – LIVE, Age of Empires Online and Microsoft Flight. Age of Empires will be free-to-play through LIVE.
The user interface or "Guide" was changed from earlier versions (Made to match the Xbox 360's appearance) to a new appearance. The guide includes messaging (text and voice), friends list, recent players, private chat, and personal settings.
The current version of the in-game Live client is version 3.02.0217.00, released on December 15, 2009. It is available for Windows XP (Service Pack 2 and above), Windows Vista, and Windows 7 operating systems. Version 3.0 added extended information about progress and some bugfixes. The client also auto-updates when users are logged-on to a Live-aware game.
The marketplace client was officially released on December 4, 2009. It initially launched with demos and trailers of games available on the Live service. Full titles were later added in the form of Games on Demand.
With version 3.0 of the Games for Windows – Live service, a in-game marketplace was included; in addition to new account management tools, such as the ability to change a Gamertag for 800 Microsoft Points. The in-game marketplace enables users to purchase DLC without exiting, as it installs the content directly from within the game.
Games on Demand
Template:Seealso On December 15, 2009, Microsoft launched Games on Demand, a digital distribution service offering titles such as Resident Evil 5 and Battlestations: Pacific. Also available are arcade games such as a free version of Microsoft Tinker, a former exclusive to Windows Vista Ultimate, as well as World of Goo and Osmos.
Some titles bought on Games on Demand include Server Side Authentication. This is a Games for Windows – Live 3.0 feature that automatically ties the game to your Windows Live ID and the Gamertag associated to it. These games have no activation limits and can be re-installed multiple times. The majority of the other titles on the service use a SecuROM DRM that lets the user activate the game up to five times each month on any hardware.
Dark Void is the first title to have the Games for Windows – Live service limited exclusively to the Games on Demand digital release. Retail copies of the game will not have the Live features integrated. Capcom have stated that other digital platforms such as Steam may have the service patched in at a later date.
On June 8, 2010 some games which were previously not Games for Windows titles were added for download. Microsoft claims that new titles will be added every week and there will be over 100 games by the end of 2010.
Games for Windows Live is currently available in 26 countries/territories, with 9 more expected this year. Users in other countries can access Live without problems by simply creating a Gamertag with a supported country, although no technical support is available outside of the supported countries.