Stardock’s Wardell Slams GFWL

By Jim Rossignol on October 1st, 2009 at 7:13 pm.


Speaking to Shacknews, Brad Wardell says:

“I started out as a big Games for Windows Live advocate. I intended for Elemental to be on Games for Windows Live, but then as we got closer, the Xbox group took it over more and more. And they have things where, oh, if you want to use Games for Windows Live to update your game, you have to go through [their] certification. And if you do it more than X number of times, you have to pay money. It’s like, “My friends, you can’t do that on the PC.” … If Games for Windows Live maintains that strategy and they take over, I’m done. I’m not making PC games. I would be done.”

I hereby declare this slagging thread for GFWL open!

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188 Comments »

  1. Dinger says:

    Okay, let’s break it down.

    First off: That Microsoft limits PC updates. This is stupid. Consoles have extremely limited hardware configurations, and they’re not subject to random uncontrollable environmental changes, like the OS or a 3rd party app suddenly puking in your game’s presence. Windows isn’t. This has always been the problem with PCs, especially back in the DOS days. So, in the Windows world, we’re used to a different patching regime: instead of “Bang”, we see “Boom, bang, pop.” You just can’t adequately test for every configuration, so you need to adjust fire a couple of times. That’s how Windows works. Bringing in the Xbox Live team and having them dictate how Windows works will only be slightly less successful than Soviet genetics.

    Second, what’s the big problem anyway? It’s quite simple. GFWL is a brand. Brands are supposed to have perceived value. And GFWL as a brand does have value: negative value. Why? Because A) digital distribution is not cheaper than retail, yet with GFWL, it nets you less product; B) the overall reported experience of GFWL (which is the only experience that counts. “Have you actually tried it?” is a worthless question when the common opinion is against you) is one where the customer is the least-invested stakeholder.

    Look, each member of the GFWL team should fly economy with 10 different airlines. Even better, each member of the corporate board overseeing and hobbling GFWL development should do so. Why? Because that way they’ll learn what it takes to get people to eat their dog food. Some airlines these days charge for water and coffee (e.g., SAS on Euro-routes. I’m sure there are US equivalents). But many have learned that a dirt-cheap snack service — give people something, no matter how cheap, then offer something for money — keeps people calm: if they’ve signed on to a “Vendor-lock-in” service, they need the minimal suggestion, the slightest gesture, that the vendor is serving them, not fleecing them.

  2. Alaric says:

    GFWL is bullshit. There was never any need for its existence. I hope it dies.

  3. subedii says:

    I’ve been raging on GFWL pretty hard here, so let’s have a change of pace. I believe that GFWL could actually be a stellar system to use, but they need to make changes to it. Here’s my personal list of recommendations:

    1- Stop requiring devs to go though GFWL certification for multiplayer updates. Multiplayer games are constantly evolving entities, and having to go through a month-long evaluation for each patch, and pay< for it, really kills balance attempts. Personally I’d prefer this for singleplayer updates as well, but those aren’t (usually) as pressing.

    2- Introduce an external GFWL client. There’s no point in having a friends list if you actually have to be in-game to be invited to see it, or be invited into a game.

    3- Start charging the ACTUAL cost for DLC, in cash, as opposed to making people buy MS funbucks. Nobody else does this, I don’t see why you should.

    4- Fix the problem with game saves getting eaten, they shouldn’t be stored separately depending on whether you’re logged into GFWL or not.

    5- Please please please give me a push-to-talk option.

    I think that’ll solve the major problems. Anyone got any other suggestions?

    • MajorManiac says:

      Perhaps they could sweeten the deal by making DLC free, you know, like the other guy…Not mentioning any names…. *looks at steam in task bar*

    • Alexander Norris says:

      But wait! There totally is a GfWL external application! It’s called Microsoft Games for Windows – LIVE and is essentially a completely useless IE-based store browser that lets you buy DLC.

    • Rostock says:

      Really agree on the funbucks part, it’s so blatantly there to squeeze some extra bucks from you too.

  4. CJohnson03 says:

    They STILL don’t have an application for GFWL outside of the games themselves. This is the first thing they would need to fix.

    That said, I wouldn’t use it either way, if I had a choice. Unfortunately there are some pretty awesome games that utilize it. I’m addicted to Red Faction: Guerrila..

  5. SwiftRanger says:

    If Brad is right then Relic/THQ are circumventing that patch rule quite handily with DoW II as most updates (all free up to now) happen through Steam and not via Live. The overlap isn’t that bad most of the time either.

    I have the impression Wardell isn’t saying everything as well, it’s OK to diss on GfWLive (especially when your own PC matchmaking service is becoming more complete, isn’t it Brad? :) ), MS are still in the Stone Age like the console online business is but that doesn’t mean I’d want it to stay that way, at least if MS wants to be serious about PC gaming (which they clearly aren’t, yet).

    A monopoly is never good and GfWLive will only collect a bigger piece of the market when it tries to be better than Xfire, Steam, Impulse, etcetera. I want more good online services, in the end MS will have to give in anyway, just like they did with making Live free and removing the hidden DRM that was in the first versions.

    • subedii says:

      This is an interesting point. If GFWL was better than all the other services, then it would pretty much be the monopoly by default. It’d be on every Microsoft system, and it would be hard for other community services to compete. In that respect, I suppose I we should be thankful that GFWL isn’t really all that good.

  6. Ravenger says:

    I’ve not had any major problems with GFWL, at least no problems that have wiped my saves, or prevented me from playing a game; but I really hate it.

    I hate the way it manages profiles and savegames, creating hurdles for users who wish to play offline or transfer saves to a different computer / OS
    I hate the clunky slowness of the in-game interface with its over the top animating notifications and x-box style windows.
    I hate the long time it takes to log in.
    I hate the lack of a separate client.
    I hate its hidden limited activation feature which has been kept secret, but which has caused problems for many users.
    I hate the invite system.
    I hate being forced to use GFWL for a Steam game when Steam’s community features are so well integrated and easy to use.
    I hate its slow download speeds for patches, and hate even more its download progress bar that instantly fills to 90% then stays that way for hours giving you no indication of download progress or speed.
    I hate having to use up to three different clients and DRM systems just to play a single player game – Batman uses Steam, Securom Activations, and GFWL – three separate points of failure.

    Basically, I hate it.

  7. orta says:

    I wouldn’t buy a GFWL game

  8. scalywg says:

    nicely elucidated

  9. SirKicksalot says:

    Fuck GFWL. I live in an unsupported country and I can’t play any multiplayer game, download map packs or earn achievments. I tried all the proxy, country, fake account tricks – it’s a freakin’ lottery, and I’m one of those that can’t use an online profile no matter what they do.

    I’m a really sad panda when playing Red Faction, as that game seems to have a really fun multiplayer and I must resort to competing with myself in Wrecking Crew. Fuck you Microsoft.

  10. Sagan says:

    +1:
    My Street Fighter IV wants to update my GFWL. But the updating always hangs. So now I can’t play Street Fighter IV online. Now I’m just a little disappointed with it, as it just got frustrating with the AI which seems to fluctuate between too easy for the normal guys, and too hard for the boss. Maybe I would have played Street Fighter IV more, had I been able to take it online.

  11. Cooper says:

    I recently went on a game splurge (by splurge I mean buying them (legit copies) in the Ukraine where, for example, Batman: Arkham cost all of £2.50 – and hoping desperately that they’ll have English language options).

    Some of those games have GFWL. I’m about to have my first taste. I’m dreading it. I know you can mod it out of Fallout3, and I hope it’s the same for some of the other games…

  12. Centy says:

    I’m siding with the overwhelming majority here. GFWL is utter shite I haven’t had such a poor experience with a piece of software since well IE and MSN of which I now use open source alternatives.

    I can’t see the rational behind it at all I don’t own a 360 and I dont want to and I certainly don’t want my PC being turned into a console just to suit Microsoft. I own 1 GFWL game and thats DoW2 and having “used” it I have since avoided every single game that has it like the plague I have missed out on Red Faction, Batman and Street Fighter 4 because I point blank refuse to have it on my system now.

    I don’t mind steam because for the most part it’s avoidable but I like it and prefer to use it over buying boxed copies (price permitting) honestly I don’t think it’s salvageable as a platform I think MS should just let it die I can’t say I’d be sorry. PC gaming is fine how it is it doesn’t need a terrible program running an awful service to completely ruin it we got along fine without it till now and we can continue on that way thankyou very much.

  13. Sunjammer says:

    Isn’t raging on GFWL sort of like raging on hitler? Aren’t everybody just about agreed it’s a shitty thing we wish hadn’t happened?

    Personal gripes anyway remains the hideous interface and the fact that it actually lags behind the 360 in terms of features. Lacking the party system is absolutely abominable

    • Shalrath says:

      There’s always the occasional asshat who claims that it’s been ‘totally fine’ for him/her, and that they’ve ‘never had any problems.’

  14. Azradesh says:

    On a side not, have you guys heard anything details about Elemental? I hadn’t even heard of it untill I read that whole interview and it looks pretty cool.

  15. Hulk Hogan says:

    http://gamepolitics.com/2009/09/28/boycotting-boycotter-stardock-takes-ups

    Why isn’t anyone talking about Stardock boycotting UPS for boycotting fox news because their CEO is a hard-core neo-conservative?

    I know Stardock is supposed to be the good guys but I’m not confortable giving money to those kind of people.

    Given a choice between a shitty attempt at porting Xbox Live to the PC and giving money to someone I think is a horrible person I’ll chose neither.

    • Azradesh says:

      Because this is a UK based site and we don’t really care. :P

    • Wisq says:

      I may not agree with Stardock’s CEO’s apparent politics, nor would I agree with the concept of boycotting UPS because they chose to boycott some nut on TV, regardless of said nut’s politics.

      However, I can certainly think of better reasons to be boycotting UPS, such as how they utterly gouge anyone who tries to ship cross-border with massive “brokerage fees” (on top of duties, etc.) that the other carriers don’t charge.

      So as one of the people regularly affected by UPS’ greed, Stardock boycotting UPS = win for me, whether I agree with the reasoning or not.

    • jalf says:

      Perhaps the hivemind feels that boycotting a company because it’s CEO wants to boycott another company for boycotting someone would be…. silly.

      Just a guess.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      Is he a neocon? The update bit in that gamepolitics article has Wardell’s response, and it seems like he was boycotting UPS for blanket-boycotting the entire Fox network because of one loon. Mind, I think Fox should be boycotted into oblivion regardless, but his stance seems like a fairly reasonable one.

  16. Heliocentric says:

    Fox news is a joke, those who rush to support them jokes also.

    Elemental will still be a fun time. Here’s hoping UPS (pronounced whoops) are okay, oh wait i don’t care.

    Political tastes aside, Brad runs a business which makes games i like.

  17. Robin says:

    GFWL can’t be fixed, because it’s a product spawned from corporate politics rather than market demand. The same organisational cancer that explains why Live Anywhere languishes years after being announced, why the Zune exists in a weird apathetic limbo (rendered utterly irrelevant by the iPhone lacking the leadership to even begin to face up to this), and why Natal (the marketing-mandated “Project” prefix being a particularly telling affectation) will be pushed around like a half-chewed brussel sprout for a few months after launch before being discreetly binned, like every previous attempt by Microsoft to appeal to the mainstream which has been treated internally with bitter disdain.

    Compare and contrast DirectX, where engineers drove the development of something that they knew developers and gamers would benefit from, but which the corporate hierarchy didn’t understand the value of. Nobody is personally invested in taking the risks that would be required to make GFWL a viable alternative to Steam, they’re just ticking the boxes they need to make something vaguely functional (but not good enough to conflict with charging a subscription fee for Xbox Live) and hoping they can eventually be moved to a more glamourous project, like Songsmith. In professional dignity terms, that’s right up there with working for mid 2000s spyware vendors like Gator.

    • TheSombreroKid says:

      directx was spawned from corporate politics also, if directx hadn’t wedged itself firmly between every game this decade and Windows, despite there being a perfectly good alternative, Windows would no longer exist and ms would basically be bankrupt.

    • bildo says:

      “why the Zune exists in a weird apathetic limbo (rendered utterly irrelevant by the iPhone lacking the leadership to even begin to face up to this)”

      Zune HD > iPod touch, not to get too far off topic. Apple is for hippies. Meanwhile, the church said limbo dosen’t exist anymore so the Zune isn’t going to a void where dead babies go.

  18. Pijama says:

    THERE WILL BE BLOOD.

    • Wooly says:

      Hopefully GFWL’s and Microsoft’s! GALLONS OF IT. PAINT THE WALLS RED! *foams*

  19. Monkeybreadman says:

    GFWL is shit

  20. BabelFish says:

    I find it funny that Microsoft still thinks that GFWL is a decent product.

    It’s a poorly done port of the poorly thought out XBox voice/connection/update/matchmaking systems, and if there’s one thing that sends us PC gamers into a frothing rage, it’s poorly done ports.

    I will happily dance on the grave of GFWL once it finally dies.

  21. Bravedave says:

    An excellent point. However, that doesn’t excuse the fact (raised initially when DOW2 was released) that I have to have both steam and GFWL. I have never wanted to use GFWL but have been forced to do so in order to play games I have bought. As far as I’m concerned this is every bit as bad as DRM.

  22. Heliocentric says:

    “The shit”, oh yeah I said it. I love Games For Windows Live! Without it where would i point to express the way Microsoft are turd vendors.

  23. Hug_dealer says:

    The fact that dow 2 uses both steam and gfwl is because of 2 reasons.
    relic wanted 1 place to go for patches and distrubution. That means steam. they only have 1 version of the game to work on because everyone will be tied to steam.
    The other is they needed a matchmaking service. Thier attempts with quazel for coh was pretty bad when it comes to quility. so the opted out of making thier own server again. that left microsoft GFWL. They proviced the servers for the matchmaking.
    So everyone bitching about having to use both, and blah blah blah. pay attention. Relic/thq decided on that.
    GFWL is not trying to be a distrubution service for full games. they are a matchmaking service, and offer a way to deliver additional product online.
    Steam is a distrubution service, that sells games. they dont deal with match making for anything other than thier own valve products. they are trying to work into that, but currently only valve games are involved in steam match making.
    2 different products. but plenty of uninformed users of both.

    • BabelFish says:

      I’d be interested in seeing what relic would say off the record, but having played both CoH and DoW2, and having been an active watcher of their communities for both, GFWL has been a terrible choice for matchmaking.

      It’s pushed new players completely out of multiplayer (the first 3-4 games you’re more likely then not to be put up against the best players available, smart for determining trueskill, terrible for player retention) and because of an issue in the player matching system, tends to match organized groups of players vs rag-tag individuals, which has effectively killed their 3vs3 bracket for anyone without 2 friends who play consistently.

  24. gulag says:

    GFWL. It’s a bit pants and Steam does it all better and easier.

    Next song.

  25. Hug_dealer says:

    relic has admitted they fubared the match making and are still working on it. it will eventually make people outside of true skills because a game is better than no game.
    gulag. please, tell me how steam does match making better?

    • BabelFish says:

      Spending your first 5 games getting mercilessly beaten down, only to have the player on the other side say, “oh crap, sorry, GFWL matchmaking FTL” once they see your trueskill (I’ve had it done to me and have said the exact same thing to others) is not a good way to bring new players to the game.

      So no, I would not say that “a game is better then no game.” Especially when you’re attempting to pull in new players to a very hardcore genre (which was a stated goal of DoW2.)

  26. Orange says:

    Trying to use GFWL has been one of the most frustrating experiences in 10+ years of PC gaming, it really is terrible. I learnt my lesson though, DoW2 was the last time I will ever buy a GFWL game. Would rather miss out than support that rubbish.

  27. Lucas says:

    In Section 8, changing the name of a customized loadout brings up GWFL for the text entry box. I know reusing components beats reinventing the wheel, but come on. I don’t remember the beta doing that.

  28. Hug_dealer says:

    how is that gfwl's fault? Sounds like a problem for the devs.

  29. Dave says:

    I sometimes suspect GFWL is intentionally crappy in order to sell more XBoxen.

    Then again, Microsoft hamstrings itself on a regular basis. Not having DX10 support for XP, for instance.

  30. fuggles says:

    I was saddened/amused that at Gamesday at the NEC Relic could not show off their new game mode as GFWL wouldn’t work right.

  31. Quintesse says:

    What’s wrong with Steam?

    (in comparison to GFWL, I could actually list quite a number of things wrong with Steam, but the same would hold true for GFWL)

    • bildo says:

      I find it hard to compile a list of steams problems. So far, I haven’t had any since they refined it after the release of HL2.

  32. bildo says:

    But the achievements system is better than Steams : /

    That’s the only thing I like about GFWL at least. *sigh*

  33. ChaosSmurf says:

    I have never had a problem with GFWL.

    I have never used GFWL.

    THIS IS WHAT YOU’RE DOING WRONG PEOPLE.

  34. Persus-9 says:

    You know these is one nice feature in GfWL, it does have an option to turn of all notifications so unless I’m playing multiplayer then after the 10 – 60 second nerd rage inducing sign in period once I’ve loaded a game I can almost forget it’s there.

  35. Hug_dealer says:

    well, steam and gfwl are totally different types of programs.
    so yes, we can kinda of compare them.
    GFWL match making is 100% better than steams. and Steams game distribution is 100% better than gfwl.
    Can someone provide me with an alternative to GFWL???? what is better than it out there.
    Nothing, not steam, not impulse. Not blizzard. Nothing provides match making and community like GFWL. the fact that you can be playing any game you wan, see what your friends are doing, and invite them to your game, send voice messages etc across games.
    Argue for steam and blizzard, but end up failing because neither of them provide match making except for thier products. steam only does it for L4d, blizzard thier games.
    If and when blizzard or steam open thier matchmaking up other developers, then we will have a legit arguement, but currently only GFWL brings them together. I am not saying steam or blizzard suck, im just saying they are a step behind in this regard. While steam and blizzard are a step ahead in others.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      @Hug_dealer:

      Nothing, not steam, not impulse. Not blizzard. Nothing provides match making and community like GFWL. the fact that you can be playing any game you wan, see what your friends are doing, and invite them to your game, send voice messages etc across games.

      OK, I haven’t used GFWL so i can’t say firsthand what they offer. But Steam does let you play any game you want, including games you didn’t buy on Steam, and see what your friends are doing. You can invite them to your game if you’re playing a game that supports that feature (all Valve games, Source mods, multiplayer Source engine games, and a small but unfortunately very slowly growing number of 3rd party games). You can send a voice message across games, or even to someone who’s logged into Steam and not playing a game at all.

      Now, maybe GFWL is great, maybe it’s horrible. Maybe Steam is great, maybe it’s horrible. But let’s get the facts straight here, and then go from that. OK?

  36. MinisterofDOOM says:

    The irony here is that Stardock’s “Impulse” is just as unnecessary (if certainly not as poorly executed) as GFWL. Just yet ANOTHER steam-wannabe to un-check the “start on windows startup” box on.

    But I’ve been against GFWL from the beginning. The beauty of the PC as a platform is the wealth of options. GFWL consolidates, restricts, and impairs. It’s the very antithesis of PC gaming as an ideal.

    • Subject 706 says:

      I wouldn’t say Impulse is unnecessary in the way GfWL is. It is a distribution/patching system that is competing with Steam (and is currently not as good), but it sure as hell is not an intrusive piece of shit software like GfWL.

  37. Spoon says:

    Wow, MS is pulling their closed platform patch checking xbox tactics on the PC? Knowing that now, I am somewhat surprised I have even played a game that uses GFWL. Ridiculous.

  38. Robin says:

    @Hug_dealer “match making and community … see what your friends are doing… {loads of other console-centric things} …”

    You realise PCs are capable of running multiple applications simultaneously, yes? And have “The Inter-Net”?

  39. Schadenfreude says:

    Two words: Microsoft Points. I bought Fallout 3 from Steam but the only way I can play the DLC is by pirating it, since Microsoft’s make-believe toy currency can’t be used in my country.

    • Azradesh says:

      That highlights another problem and it’s not just MS that are doing it. The fact that people are still thinking in ridiculous regional terms. These companys all need to realise that the internet has made the markets of all media a global one whether they like it or not. By putting artificial regional limits on sales they are only hurting their profit margins. Idiots

    • Alexander Norris says:

      I’m pretty sure they’ve realised it, alright; it’s just that companies in general want all the benefits of being able to sell world-wide with minimal tariffs with none of the “drawbacks” to them (read: benefits to the customer). In theory, I shouldn’t have to pay $75-90US for new PC games – I should be paying $50US; however, that isn’t in the interest of the person providing these games, since it would mean they make less money.

  40. Hug_dealer says:

    Anonymous Coward said:
    @Hug_dealer:
    <i>Nothing, not steam, not impulse. Not blizzard. Nothing provides match making and community like GFWL. the fact that you can be playing any game you wan, see what your friends are doing, and invite them to your game, send voice messages etc across games.</i>
    OK, I haven’t used GFWL so i can’t say firsthand what they offer. But Steam does let you play any game you want, including games you didn’t buy on Steam, and see what your friends are doing. You can invite them to your game if you’re playing a game that supports that feature (all Valve games, Source mods, multiplayer Source engine games, and a small but unfortunately very slowly growing number of 3rd party games). You can send a voice message across games, or even to someone who’s logged into Steam and not playing a game at all.
    Now, maybe GFWL is great, maybe it’s horrible. Maybe Steam is great, maybe it’s horrible. But let’s get the facts straight here, and then go from that. OK?

    yes lets get the facts straight.
    GFWL provides a match making service. Steam does not. Anything other than valve games like l4d still have to provide thier own match making service. Like dawn of war 2 does, it uses both because steam doesnt provide a server to host match making.
    GFWL provides that for developers, so they get something better than gamespy. GFWL provides alot of tools, and help for devs that choose to it. And if you use GFWL, you can then provide attentional content, like fallout 3 did.
    It also provides DRM for Devs, which they like. Say what you want about DRM, it is here to stay. Even stardock is like WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!! piracy now.
    So in conclusion. GFWL provides match making services, stat recording, and the like for developers that use it, and provide a community to make friends and download additional content. No one else does that.
    So anyone saying, why didnt they use blah blah. remember that no one else provides that.

    • Azradesh says:

      Stardock has at no point “WAAHHHHH!!!”ed about piracy, what are you talking about?

    • toni says:

      you see, PCs don’t need matchmaking (L4Ds biggest flaw IS the matchmaking, the biggest piece of crap Valve has ever coded): WE CAN USE A GAMEBROWSER, use filters, friends list. I don’t need some obscure code trying to figure out who I am gonna wanna play with and put me on some server it THINKS is appropriate. That’s just bullshit. give the lazy users a “quick match” button but leave the actual decision making to ME. If you are too stupid to use a gamebrowser, how could you be able to play a game (unless the game itself is as stupid)

  41. Scott Kevill says:

    Stardock is playing the developer card when talking about GfWL, but let's not forget they are also slamming it because they are also busy trying to pitch ImpulseReactor (the matchmaking used in Demigod) as something all developers should adopt.
    Disclaimer: I'm also not without bias, being the owner of a matchmaking service that actually works: GameRanger. :)

  42. bildo says:

    hopefully gameranger works better than your website ; ) tis 404′d.

    • Scott Kevill says:

      Hah.

      Website is fine. :P

      I had an extra ” in the link tag here. Edited it a few seconds later, and the post in the forum updated, but the one on the comments did not. Looks like there are a few minor kinks with the new system.

  43. Sentient says:

    I agree.
    I hated the fact that I had to install both steam and GFWL for DoW2.
    Once I did I quite enjoyed the friends options they offered.
    I counted more steam downtime that GFWL downtime.

    Recently after the great reports here I bought BloodBowl and kind of miss the GFWL matchmaking.

    Even if it costs MS money to certify, charging devs for certification is too harsh it depends on how much money they ask I guess. Is it the same as for an XBox game? Is the certification the same.

    • Jayt says:

      I haven’t had steam downtime since the dark days of post-won

  44. Sentient says:

    I agree.
    I hated the fact that I had to install both steam and GFWL for DoW2.
    Once I did I quite enjoyed the friends options they offered.
    I counted more steam downtime that GFWL downtime.

    Recently after the great reports here I bought BloodBowl and kind of miss the GFWL matchmaking.

    Even if it costs MS money to certify, charging devs for certification is too harsh it depends on how much money they ask I guess. Is it the same as for an XBox game? Is the certification the same?

    • Tei says:

      People that see no problem with Microsoft require for certificates in a OPEN PLATFORM like the PC sould pay a “certificate” for every post, and wait 30 days till his post is certificated.

  45. toomany says:

    I hate GFWL more than I hate death.

  46. Robin says:

    @Hug_dealer

    Your argument seems to be making less and less sense. By your own admission PC developers have multiple options regarding matchmaking and DRM, but you don’t explain what GFWL offers over any other option. You say that GFWL “allows”(?!) developers to offer additional content, while citing Fallout 3, the most infamous example of GFWL catastrophically hindering a developer’s ability to offer DLC and patches for their own game. And the idea that only by using a piece of middleware can a PC game to foster a community, when PC gamers have been forging communities around games since the mid-1990s, is patently absurd.

    The fact is that most publishers that have signed up for GFWL in the past (e.g. THQ/Relic, Eidos, Capcom, Bethesda, Rockstar) have done so because they have formal risk-reduction policies in place to investigate any third party option that will lower the unit cost of their games. Usually this results in irritating but ultimately benign things like “nVidia” logos at the start of the game, or a GFW banner on the box. (And sometimes less benign, such as using Starforce’s DRM for the sake of saving a few pennies on licensing.) GFWL has proven to not be benign, but rather a huge and costly support headache and PR nightmare, which is why Brink (for one) won’t be using it, even though Bethesda almost certainly signed a blanket agreement to use GFWL across all their titles in exchange for support, marketing and/or crisp bank notes. Factor in further problems like the flakiness of updates and the loopy idea of charging developers to issue patches through the system, and it seems likely that you’ll see more publishers dropping it soon.

  47. invisiblejesus says:

    @Hug_dealer: Yes, you’re right in saying that Steam doesn’t offer matchmaking, at least at this time. My point, however, was that every other service you mentioned is in fact offered over Steam. I don’t think anyone has tried to claim that Steam offers matchmaking for games other than L4D, and if you care strongly about matchmaking then that’s a pretty fair criticism. If that’s the case you are trying to make, go to town with it, but don’t try to bullshit us by implying that Steam doesn’t offer those other features you mentioned.

  48. Shadow Aspect says:

    I’m sorry, but I’m one of those that never had any real problems with GFWL. I like how it works presently but of course there are things they need to improve. Especially if there really is that much of a restriction on aftersales updates for developers.

  49. Blackops says:

    As long as GfWL stayed in the background and didnt bother me much (for GTA4, Fallout 3 and DoW2) I did not mind it too much. The program worked and gaming was fun, achievements and all. This was with Vista 32bit.

    Then the happy fun times began. I went over to Win 7 Professional 64-bit (MSDNAA) and I’m not going back. But GfWL did not go along with this change, my Gamertag somehow ran away and died during my OS change. Thus all my saves and achievements coupled with my gamertag (which the xbox live system tells me still exists…) is unavailable for my Win Live ID. By making a new gamertag and doing some copy pasting of save files i actually salvaged my progress in some of the games.

    So I have joined the GfWL-hate club at full force. Did not have any DLCs at my previous gamertag, but how can i be sure i get to keep them and my gamertag this time?

    (GfWL is not officially supported by win 7 yet either, support starts at retail-launch)

    Figures MS producing the best Win ever, and than gives me a useless games platform just to have something MS produced to complain about.

  50. DMJ says:

    We don’t need GfWL’s ten-yard interface or the massively streamlined features for efficiency. We’re PC gamers; keyboards have dozens of keys, mice are superb analogue controllers, and our monitors are roughly 3′ from our heads. We like to tweak stuff. We like to set things up in our own unique ways. A PC gamer wants things his way and will likely spend a while in the options screen before starting the game. A 360 gamer wants no downtime between starting the game and playing the game and so consistency of interface and control scheme and settings is key.

    That’s not a value judgement, just acknowledement that someone who has a multi-purpose PC wants more control over the details of his experience than someone who buys a specialised appliance. Give us GfWL that plays to the PC’s strengths, not the XBox 360′s.