A Brief Moment Of Perverse Gratitude To GFWL

By Alec Meer on March 5th, 2013 at 4:15 pm.

Notoriously, infamously broken gaming social network/store/DRM Games For Windows Live appears to be, if not quite yet dead, then at least waiting nervously for a visit from the priest. Few shall mourn its loss. Indeed, I had hoped to never experience again its peculiar, malfunctioning attempts to control my savegames, DLC and freedom to play videogames I already own. Unfortunately for me, yesterday I decided it’d be a jolly good idea to play the excellent, under-promoted BioShock 2 add-on, Minerva’s Den. I forgot that it could not be installed via conventional in-game methods or even via Steam. I forgot that I had to go into the very belly of Microsoft’s ill-tempered GFWL beast. What followed was a two-hour oddyssey of installations and reinstallations, hidden folder hunting and registry editing. I was so angry, and yet today I feel oddly grateful.

PC gaming has become easy. Not compared to consoles or telephones, of course, but compared to PC gaming as-was. For the most part, we click a button on Steam or Origin or GamersGate or Desura or wherever, a game is delivered to our hard drive, we dick around in settings a bit and then we play it. Things can and do go wrong, of course, but either a patch, a forum post or a graphics card driver update so often fixes it. I have become lazy and complacent because of this – I expect to press a button and have everything just work, more or less. I have forgotten my time in the offline wilderness, the time that made a man of me. (I.e. a man who knows about stuff like regedit and EMS vs XMS) Yesterday’s travails took me back to the dark/golden ages of PC gaming, where installing a new game entailed girding myself for war, preparing myself to wade knee-deep in the blood of my PC’s file system.

While BioShock 2 can be installed and played via Steam without having to go anywhere near GFWL, if you want the multiplayer or any of the DLC, you have to invite Microsoft’s monster into your home. Minerva’s Den can only be acquired and/or installed via the Games For Windows Live client, which is an entirely external application which has repeatedly changed form, function and even name since BS2′s 2010 release. I doubt anyone’s monitoring, updating or supporting it now, but inevitably it blocked me from signing in and accessing that which I already owned. To battle, then.

I hated doing it. It felt like a punishment, I couldn’t believe that 2K, Microsoft or whoever it was could care so little about their PC players that they’d be happy for them to go through this. But when I emerged from the long, bitter conflict, after filleting my PC’s registry to the point that Windows wouldn’t start, after exploring and repeatedly deleting the darkest depths of the mysterious hidden AppData folder, after somehow having three different versions of the GFWL client running simultaneously, after uninstalling and reinstalling a 9 gigabyte game three times over, after reading innumerable abandoned forum threads, after the whining, both to myself and on Twitter, after being told that login details had changed and I would be returned to the main menu more times than any man could count, after so very nearly giving up but ultimately electing to have just one more go…

After all that, and more, to then, finally, be allowed to open the GFWL client, to login without being met by an unexplained error message, to simply click ‘install’ on the 1.9GB Minerva’s Den add-on, to load up BioShock 2 and then play the add-on – reader, I felt like a god.

I had done it. I had beaten that which meant to destroy me, that dark gatekeeper determined to stand between me and my entertainment. The ancient knowledge and confidence to tear away at my PC’s operating system and roll with the consequences had subsided, atrophied over time. Now, it is back. You can’t stop me, Games For Windows Live. Or anyone else. I will do whatever it takes to make software run on my hardware. GFWL, you tried to strike me down, but you have only made me stronger. For that, I thank you.

(Also Minerva’s Den is great, you should definitely play it. GFWL probably won’t let you, of course.)

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131 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Lambchops says:

    I don’t fucking miss those days at all.

    And don’t get me started on bloody boot discs, or games that came on seven floppy discs the last of which was inevitably corrupt.

    Bugger that for a game of ponies.

    • Guvornator says:

      When I was young, vibrant and had all my head hair (and none of my back hair) I got Transport Tycoon for my birthday. It came on 2 floppy disks. However, when i installed it, it wigged out on the second disk. Having no Internets, I phoned up for a new floppy disk, a process that took waiting on hold for an hour. When I got it, it did the exact same thing. This started a several month long process which ended with me tearfully imploring a remarkably uncaring Microprose employee to “please, please make my game work”.

      Eventually, having roped on my Dad (he was somewhat surprised by the size of the phone bill), we realized the issue was with the first disk. A new disk was ordered and I proceeded to enjoy many happy hours of transport management goodness. Until Christmas, when the 4th disk of NASCAR failed…

    • SanguineAngel says:

      sing it!

    • uNapalm says:

      I can remember the days of having to drive back to the shops because the tape wouldn’t load :( Ah, load doink doink

    • djbriandamage says:

      I used to be the Percy B. Shelley of multiconfig boot disks.

  2. iucounu says:

    But did you have to edit Autoexec.bat and config.sys, and load HIMEM or MEMMAKER???

    • Nick says:

      should have load high’d his mouse.exe

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      DOS=HIGH.
      BUFFERS=65

      • Premium User Badge

        Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

        SACRIFICES=”VIRGIN”,”NUMEROUS”

      • wasabi2k says:

        I still get a brief twinge of nostalgia when I see DOSBOX running SET BLASTER=A220 etc.

        My SoundBlaster16 was A240, IRQ 5, DMA 1. I never understood why it was 240, not 220 like all the others, which meant that various games did/didn’t let me use it and I would be stuck with MIDI (if I was lucky).

        And the trials and tribulations of mscdex – never have I hated a word more.

        Makes my word today seem ridiculously easy in comparison.

        In other get off my lawn news – typing modem init strings in (pro points if you got them over the phone from a friend) was awesome.

        Running ATDT phonenumber in the quake console to dial up, AT H, AT Z. Man, good times.

      • Premium User Badge

        particlese says:

        But, most importantly:
        SET S_HOST=CASTLE

    • Gothnak says:

      Master Of Magic, that was a battle… Needed XMS too…

      • Noburu says:

        Oh god the tweaking I had to do to get MoM to install and run when i repurchased the cd version few years after the initial release. Thank god I can just dosbox it now.

    • Optimaximal says:

      Was I the only one who, at the advent of Windows 95, found the batch file ‘Doswinkey’ sounded rather rude?

  3. ulix says:

    Can’t comment on the Thief story. Something’s as broken as GFWL.

  4. Kestilla says:

    My Batman: Arkham City’s online save profile became corrupt and every time I tried to launch the game it flat out crashed and showed me errors when it tried to bring up the info. I deleted my computer saves plenty of times and reinstalled, but it wasn’t looking for any of that information, and unlike Steam, I couldn’t tell it to replace my Cloud Saves with the saves on my computer.

    So it’s a good thing I finished the game once over, eh? Last time I tried to get support for GFWL I got lambasted by a forum GFWL fanboy who tried to out me as an anti-GFWL troll, despite just wanting to have my problem go away so I could play my game. Oh well, I guess I am an anti-GFWL troll now.

    • Milky1985 says:

      Well yeah you are a bit, as the Arkham city save corruption bug was fixed by a patch…. from the developers of Arkham city, not by a patch to GFWL, so the issue (while I’m not saying it wasn’t connected) can be inferred to be the developers fault not the fault of GFWL.

      Not being able to use the cloud saves however is a bit of an issue there, i guess MS left it up for the developers to code that rather than be sensible and let the user select :/

      GFWL was just primary culprit, it was holding the knife while looking over the dead body, but actually it just stupidly picked up the knife when seeing what was happening after Rocksteady ran away.

      • Josh W says:

        Developers have been working around poorly implemented microsoft standards for years to get them to work, so there’s no guarantees it was them who made it break.

    • Filden says:

      Yeah, I just played Arkham Asylum again over the weekend, and had to suffer GFWL like a hand from the grave.

      Though the truth is, while GFWL is wretched to get set up, once you do so you can avoid most problems by creating a separate offline profile for any game that doesn’t explicitly require being online for multiplayer activity. It’s easy to do once you know how, and removes most subsequent hassles from GFWL. It’s just that the way to do it is pretty obscure, and MS hides the link for it pretty well. Everything is then local on your machine, doesn’t require an online connection, and there’s no danger of having to rely on cloud features. Google for instructions if you dont already know how.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      I also love how GFWL won’t let you use your save games from a previous backup if you’ve had the nerve to install a fresh version of Windows.

      • Nim says:

        Well obviously the save games have to be encrypted using machine-specific parameters! Have you even considered what would happen if you gave a save-game to someone else in which you had progressed far and unlocked a ton of achievements?! They might get them too, and so from now on all save games must be encrypted according to the local machine configuration that you possess so that you cannot provide free GamerScore to someone else. It would be like achievement piracy, let me tell you.

  5. Premium User Badge

    Stense says:

    I’d really like to try Minerva’s Den at some point. My engagements with GFWL have been very tedious and frustrating, I’ve no doubt that trying to get to grips with it all over again will be a very painful experience. I’ve not been playing a lot lately, so I guess tackling this beast of a client would help me get back some of my PC gaming street cred, because that is important or something. Either that or I’m just a masochist.

    Is there any good advice for someone thinking of diving in and trying to actually play something as hassle free as possible? Or should I just prepare to spend a few hours sat clutching my teddy bear on the floor, rocking back and forth as I cry and mutter the GFWL EULA repeatedly until my mind has dribbled out of my nose fully?

    • FieldyGB says:

      what a beautiful mental image that is, well done sir

    • Zaphid says:

      Well, there are places that let you download games for free and usually without this much hassle, but those aren’t discussed here.

      • Snargelfargen says:

        Tracking down and troubleshooting the dlc and requisite cracks can be just as annoying as dealing with GFWL unfortunately. I don’t think I’ll be buying or pirating Minerva’s Den any time soon.

    • Suits says:

      Pump enough alcohol in your blood to make it seem like it works. (granted you are allowed to by law)

    • Tom Servo says:

      I played Minerva’s Den last year and don’t remember having any serious issues downloading and installing it. It certainly isn’t as easy or convenient as if it was on Steam but it worked OK.

    • Premium User Badge

      VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      My situation is even more complicated: I can’t even install Bioshock 2 at all. You see, I bought it on DVD, which has SecuROM or some such nonsense. That worked OK a couple of years ago in the PC I had then, but I no longer have that PC.

      But this isn’t even about the limited activations it has. You see, the only DVD drive I have anymore is in my Mac. I thought “No worries, I’ll just rip a DVD image there and copy it over to my PC”.

      Ha.

      Ha ha.

      Sob.

      No, the rip didn’t fail due to SecuROM, because I couldn’t even get as far as that—the SecuROM-infested DVD is invalid such that the Mac refuses even to acknowledge it! It spins and grinds in the drive for about five minutes, then is spat out.

      So, I’m unable to read the disc. I might well have trouble ripping it even if I could read it. Then I’d probably fall afoul of limited activations. And even if I passed that hurdle, I’d have to deal with the Incredible GFWL Rigmarole™ that Alec detailed so nicely to be able to play Minerva’s Den.

      Long and short is: I guess I’m never going to play Minerva’s Den (unless it were to come out on GOG). A pity.

      • F3ck says:

        Lifting images from disks is how I amassed most of my catalog and you’re right; Macs can be very frustrating.

        I’d think popping the optical-drive into the PC would be the thing to do to (along with DVD Decrypter) get that ISO, buddy.

    • Javaa01 says:

      Ok try these 2 things. 1: goto gfwl`s website and login there your license should upgrade. 2: Turn off your firewall, i know it sounds stupid and flatout wreckless but it did the trick for me. Then if luck is on your side the damned beast should yeald (aka. it should start up.)

  6. Zorn says:

    EGA, CGA or Tandy Three Color? Make your choice, adventurer!

    Iron Brigade in multiplayer is fun too. You two players can connect, oh, player three, you can
    connect with player one, but you have to change router settings you didn’t have to change
    for anything ever, to connect to player two. Player four, your network cable is disconnected,
    also, even if you don’t have any firewall, nobody can connect to you, because you’re behind
    a strict firewall. Why? Because I say so.

    I wouldn’t even wonder if gfwl silently installed a firewall. That would be fun.
    The days of yore, ready to reinstall your OS to get something running.

  7. JFS says:

    Stockholm Syndrome?

  8. The First Door says:

    Part of me is actually just a little sad that GFWL is going to die. I know it’s pointless and I know it doesn’t matter… but I really like my Xbox and PC achievements being synchronised so I can make that pointless gamer score increase when I’m gaming at my desk.

    • Hahaha says:

      I find steam can be just as shit as GFWL especially when it comes to doing anything but playing games, people just happily skip over it’s problems though.

      • Tom Servo says:

        As far as achievements go, I have had many instances of Steam achievements not working right and only 1 or 2 of GFWL not unlocking properly.

        • Grover says:

          I have found that when steam achievements don’t work it is always the developer’s fault, so far. Usually a dev patch fixes it eventually. Just my personal experience.

      • Premium User Badge

        wengart says:

        That is because it is pretty damn good at the games portion.

  9. rb2610 says:

    When GFWL stops working, what happens to the Fallout 3 DLC that I had to buy via GFWL? :/

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Bethesda’s DLC is luckily a bit easier to sort out. The dlc can be extracted from their executables, at which point they resemble your average mod. Just make sure you save copies on your hard drive.

    • Delusibeta says:

      Thankfully, there’s plenty of cracks for GfWL. Indeed, Fallout Script Extender, a requirement for some of the more advanced mods, disables GfWL wholesale when it’s run.

  10. Teovald says:

    ha, GFWL !! After an impulse purchase of Arkham City fueled by the admiration of a friend for this game, I discovered that an inscription to this service was necessary to play, even though I was launching the game from Steam…
    I was already not really happy with that crappy frontend, then 3/4 hours into the game, I discovered why it was so hated : this crappy service deletes your savegames randomly. I had a perfectly working installation of Arkham City, but for some reason (overload ? discnnection ? crappy coding, yeah probably that one) GFWL decided to delete the savegames on my hard drive..

    I played the entire game by duplicating the save files after each play session, thanks a lot GFWL !

  11. deadstoned says:

    Admittedly I first learnt about Regedit and most of the innards of my PC from mods and weird errors. I don’t miss the days of errors, mods I still enjoy with more ease now with Nexus and Steamworkshop.

    GFWL can’t die soon enough. Ace Combat and Dark Souls look like they were the last GFWL games. Namco and FROM were both keenly aware GFWL was unpopular during the development of the miserable port of Dark Souls after that petition. So hopefully no more GFWL ever again and Microsoft can use Steam to put its old games on at discount prices hopefully. BECAUSE NO MICROSOFT WE DONT WANT MORE MICROSOFT CRAP! AND NO YOU CANT BE TRUSTED! GFWL TAUGHT ME THAT!

    • Teovald says:

      Not sure that it will happen since Microsoft seems set into putting its store down our throats whether we want it or not…
      At least GFWL will probably be no more, but I know I can count on Microsoft to create an even eviler store to replace it.

  12. Ezhar says:

    Just reading this brings back all those half hours of accumulated rage and seething hatred for GFWL and it’s endless cycle of updates, broken installers and inexplicably failed logins. Oh, and some warm fuzzy feelings to whoever made XLiveLess so I could actually play those games that I had bought because I neglected to check for the GFWL warning sticker on the box.

    When it finally dies, please do make sure it’s with a stake through the heart, cremated and then spread across different continents to avoid it ever coming back to live.

  13. Fetthesten says:

    Funnily enough, I decided to get hold of Minerva’s Den myself not too long ago. Downloaded and installed like a dream, no worries.

    Also, the only time I’ve had an issue with GFWL was back when I reinstalled Windows and when I copied over my precious Gears of War saves and they failed to load was when I discovered GFWL doesn’t let you simply copy your saves over because reasons. Which is pretty stupid.

    Oh, right, I just remembered GFWL follows Microsoft’s particular brand of logic when it comes to language selection. I live in Norway and my mother tongue is Norwegian, however because computer stuff is – almost without exception – localised by Mr. Google Translate, esq., I prefer English. GFWL, however, thinks that since I live in Norway, I must only be able to understand Norwegian and won’t let me switch over to English. Unless I change the number and date format in Windows to UK English. A few years back it was possible to do that, then change the formats back to Norwegian standards manually, but that got patched away one day so now I don’t bother. Not that I use GFWL all that much these days anyway.

    • kud13 says:

      If you find your “profile” folder, you can move that onto a new PC.

      I use an external hard drive to hold my Steam games, and I swap it between my laptop when in Uni and my desktop when at home. I have the same profile for GaFWL on both systems, which allows me to continue the game I started on one in the other. Mind you, I always keep GaFWL in offline mode for, well, everything.

    • clorex says:

      You can now migrate your GFWL/XBOX account to another region through an automated process once every 3 months. I did that so I could buy Minerva’s Den cheaper on the US marketplace.

    • Deadly Sinner says:

      The reason is the dumb achievements. They don’t want you copying over other people’s saves and getting all of the achievements too easily.

      It seems like most of GFWL’s problems come from achievements and router settings. I actually had to turn UPnP off to connect to their servers.

  14. Stevostin says:

    “regedit”

    Pff. Tweaking autoexec.bat and config.sys to free up 640ko of RAM to play wing commander was the real deal kiddo. You know nothing!

    • Premium User Badge

      DrScuttles says:

      This reminds me of shutting down from Windows 95 into DOS and running the right config to free up that sweet 640k of RAM to run the enhanced CD version of Flashback bought from Electronics Boutique in Bath. Happy days, though I don’t necessarily want them back.

    • Sakkura says:

      Pff, Wing Commander. Setting that up was a breeze compared to Master of Magic.

      • Kamos says:

        And Ultima 7. I spent more time trying to get it to run the first time than playing it. And I played it A LOT.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      And then there were us Amiga users. If we wanted to play Wing Commander or Flashback or UFO:Enemy Unknown (XCOM:UFO Defense to non-UK types) or Civilization we simply put the disk in the drive & let it load.

      Fun times.

      • Stevostin says:

        Actually, Amiga was before, not after. Once I explained to a friend what drove me mad with my Pentium “Amiga, Atari, Amstrad, etc, it either worked, or it didn’t. My PC works sometimes, and sometimes not”. And that was true. Each time I turned on the PC, it had 50% chances not booting. But then, it would, for no apparent reason. Never was able to find the cause.

  15. Revolving Ocelot says:

    Funnily enough, I’ve not had much trouble with GFWL. I first had to install it for Fallout 3, or something. Set up some type of offline-only account, which decided it didn’t like to be an offline-only account when I installed Bioshock 2. So I had to make a new account, which pretended to be much more Xbox Livey with it’s cheevos and things. Since then, I bought Arkham City and Dark Souls and didn’t have any GFWL problems, although boo at double cheevo spam in AC – for Steam AND GFWL)

  16. noom says:

    I kinda feel this. Since upgrading to Windows 8, I barely even know my way around the control panel. It just ain’t like the days of DOS or Windows 95. I never need to tinker under the hood any more…

  17. kud13 says:

    I usually keep a log when I’m playing around with GaFWL, seeing how many times I need to re-install and update the bloody thing. Also, how many “the page you are looking for is unavailable” messages I get when trying to re-download GaFWL from xbox.com

    This happens to me about twice a year when I get suckered by Steam sales to purchase a reputedly good game that needs it. My last experience with this was Batman AC. I think that involved trawling Rocksteady’s forum threads to figure out how to switch IP channels in command prompt or something of that nature. Oh, and the mandatory 9 reinstalls, to break the arkane circle of perma-updating,failing to update and updating again.

    And thankfully, I still use Hotmail. I can only imagine how difficult this would be if I didn’t have a handy M$oft credentials. set.

    I think I bought Minerva’s Den at some point. I don’t think I ever played it, or even got GaWFL to admit I had given them money for it, though.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Hah, I have a log somewhere of my last installation of GTA 4 which took almost three hours.

      The tricky part was discovering that updating my GFWL account also changed the password for my email (hotmail) and vice versa. That was utter bullshit. Sharing passwords between services is an incredibly terrible idea. Worse, my email password was changed without any warning whatsoever, or any indication that my GFWL and mail accounts were tied together. What the hell, Microsoft.

      Also my external hard drive failed midway though the process. I can’t actually blame GFWL for that, so I’ll stick to feebly shaking my fists and uttering foul oaths.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Sadly this is why during sale time I always check the “Big DRM List” at http://steamdrm.flibitijibibo.com/index.php?page=DRM_Lists/The_Big_DRM_List#04_account_based_gfwl.txt

      A year or 2 ago I bought Bioshock 1 & 2 for around £5 during a mid-week or weekend sale (got Bioshock 1 on DVD but wanted to play 2) before I realised 2 is GFWL. A quick request to Steam support got me a refund thankfully so I’ve never had to deal with it.

      That list for me is effectively “games to buy second hand for PS3 if you ever want to play them” because I refuse to encourage bullshit like GFWL.

  18. ocelotwildly says:

    After an over-hasty Steam sale purchase of Street Fighter X Tekken , I felt a shiver of fear as a requirement to log in to Games for Windows Live appeared in front of my eyes.

    “Oh well, it can’t be that difficult, I’ll just try logging in with my Xbox Live account” I thought, in a moment of foolish optimism. “Did you really think it would be that easy”, cackled the dialog prompt.

    I had heard all the rumours, of course. I had read the posts where John Walker screamed into the ether at the sheer teeth grinding pointlessness of it all. But part of me still thought that he had been making it up, that it was a minor inconvenience masquerading as part of an ongoing consumer rights crusade (like the similarly maligned U-Play, which I found pointless yet ultimately non-threatening, a bit like Ben Fogle).

    An hour later, I had somehow negotiated the Microsoft website like a doughty hobbit crawling through the Mines of Moria, and I somehow found myself with a GFWL account. The most confusing thing was my automatically generated user name, whereby Microsoft decreed that I was to be UrbanerHarp6623 and if I didn’t like it I could run along and play some games elsewhere. From the sounds of Alecs ordeal I had escaped relatively lightly, but I dread the day where we must do battle once more.

    Needless to say, after an hour of this faffing around, I played about 5 minutes of the aforementioned man-puncher and realised I had long since grown out of this sort of nonsense and have not played it since. Or perhaps I realised it just couldn’t top the gruelling mano-a-mano combat offered by wrestling with arcane DRM systems.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      Me too, but there is a XLiveless analogue for Street Fighter. It’s called THETA Team version or something.

  19. MuscleHorse says:

    Ahh, happy days. Spending hours in DOS just so LBA would have CD audio.

    Oh, and good riddance GFW. I never had it delete a save game, but it once kept me from playing Fallout 3 at random intervals for no discernible reason.

  20. Nallen says:

    Hey Alec, you know about computers and things don’t you? I’m having a little trouble with this Games for Windows thingy, if it’s no trouble…

  21. SuicideKing says:

    Haha. Had a recent tryst with GFWL when i installed Batman: AA. 2 hours, 3 downloads/updates, so many game restarts (i think there was even a PC restart) later, i was finally playing the game.

    Perhaps i had it easier because i had a retail disk copy…

  22. Ninja Foodstuff says:

    I’ve said it before, but this is something the Mac OS does best.

    Drag Bioshock 2 icon to whichever folder. Done*.

    *Lack of multiplayer not withstanding.

    Updating of course is a different ballgame, but those that use the sparkle framework make it painless. Even the Mac version of Steam, as much as it sucks compared to the Windows version, does away with the “first-time setup for your game” nonsense.

    And of course there’s Ubisoft games, which brings the joy of GFWL-like pain to its Mac games, with a launcher that will only occasionally run and then tries to do stuff with the internet if it makes it that far.

    EDIT: Back to Windows though, why the hell does everything make you install a bloody toolbar. Seriously, Java Runtime, which as far as I can tell has the sole purpose of allowing me to run certain applications, installs the ask toolbar by default and sets your home page, thanks very much! Why do Windows users tolerate this nonsense?

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      I’m sorry to say but sometimes games on the mac have DRM nonsense as well, where the thing you drop in isn’t the game at all, but a stub launcher for the game manager which downloads the game to a hidden location, and is buggy as hell.

      But yes, at least it’s much more often as you describe.

      Bad installers with buggy scripts also exist. But no pain to the level of GFWL.

  23. Grimsterise says:

    Hopefully GFWL, Origin and the other also-rans will be history soon (Morbo shout) AND STEAM WILL REIGN FOREVER!!!

  24. Premium User Badge

    tobias says:

    I had the same urge as you Alec (fuelled in my case by furniture-gnawing anticipation for Bioshock Infinite, I think) and had to go through the GFWL rigmarole, though I had a surprisingly painless, just-a-few-clicks experience of getting it working. Though of course a program should function consistently for all users, and I don’t doubt it fucked you around as described. But FWIW, some users may not find the experience too horrendous, and the addon is now very cheap.

    I didn’t have an overwhelmingly positive experience with the game itself, however, more a reminder of how rubbish and perfunctory feeling the Bioshock ports were, with horrible sound problems and a janky 30fps cap on physics objects being the most egregious offenders. Also the vita-chambers mechanic is a very unsatisfying solution to the undeniably tricky problem of checkpointing and difficulty. Really hope they sort that out for Infinite…

    • Guvornator says:

      You know you can switch the Vita Chambers off in the options menu, right? It wasn’t there for day one in Bioshock (it was patched in) but I’m sure it was there from the beginning in no2.

      • Premium User Badge

        tobias says:

        Yes, but the alternative of manual saving isn’t really palatable in a game with no checkpoints and lots of downtime in between encounters, where you’re essentially just wandering around hoovering up beer, chocolate and cigarettes.

  25. Guvornator says:

    Installing Bulletstorm took about 4hrs thanks to GFWL (that’s 4 hrs AFTER the damn thing arrived on my hard drive). However, since then I’ve had no trouble with it, apart for occasionally refusing to sign in for DOW2- a 2nd attempt normally sorts it.

    • povu says:

      I remember Bulletstorm GFWL. It turned into an infinite loop for me if I didn’t have GFWL fully updated before starting the game, making it impossible to begin or exit the game legitimately.

      You boot up the game. In order to get to the main menu, you have to log into GFWL first. In order to log in, you have to update GFWL first. In order to finish the update (done while ingame), you need to exit the game first. But you can’t exit the game because you can’t access the main menu without logging in first, which you can’t do without updating, which you can’t do without exiting, which you can’t do without logging in.

      Closing the game in task manager was the only way out.

      • Guvornator says:

        Yes! That’s what it did for me (among other things, including just failing to update itself properly). I think eventually worked out that I had to manually apply the update before starting GFWL. Which involved uninstalling it beforehand for some reason. It was really unintuitive and frustrating and a total waste of time.

        In short, it’s really, really weird how Microsoft seem to think it’s ok to have a direct download system that works terribly with the OS that they themselves made. I mean, always on DRM is a bad idea, but I can understand that, whereas GFWL seems to be floating on a lake of just really, really strange choices. Even Origin is better. And Steam has always worked flawlessly with Windows. Do Valve and EA really know more about Windows than MS? Does Desura?!

  26. Feferuco says:

    Even if you had a hard time trying to play it, you at least got to own it. GFWL simply will not sell me Minerva’s Den because it hates most of the world and does not sell DLC to people outside designated regions. Not only that, but it locked me out of online play on Bioshock 2.

  27. Danda says:

    Microsoft, please kill GFWL already. NOBODY WANTS IT, PERIOD.

  28. Premium User Badge

    rilian says:

    Cruel, heartless story. Everything was OK with the world, then reading this prompted me to run the GWFL client to make sure it still worked. After all, the children might want to play Viva Pinata sometime…

    So the client refused to allow me to log in ‘problem with your account’, gave a meaningless numeric error code, and a helpful link to explain the problem… that goes to a 404 page.

    Now I have the nagging feeling that something’s broken on my computer, and I really should be fixing it.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      That error code is probably a reference to the client change they made a while back. Something to do with GfWL transitioning to the Xbox-friendly version.

      I had the same problem after leaving GfWL untouched for months, and ended up having to re-enter my account information at MS’s Xbox/GfWL portal just to log in. I wish I could be more helpful and provide you with a step-by-step guide, but anything to do with GfWL gives me severe memory loss. Also, I’m pretty sure GfWL shot me full of cancer cells at one point.

  29. Drake Sigar says:

    So you’ve prevailed against insurmountable odds, conquered a huge personal challenge, and are looking back on who you were and what you’ve become.

    Is there any point in playing the actual video game now?

  30. Premium User Badge

    TheApologist says:

    I find my PS3 is more of a pain in the ass to use than my PC these days. Things update in the background on my PC, by and large. And everything is faster.

    • kud13 says:

      Ah, yes this reminds me of a handy tip to try to solve GaWFL woes.

      re-install it, then use windows update to download the latest “fixed” version. This may save you some time and hassle. If you are one of the chosen few.

    • Emeraude says:

      Generally speaking, the averaging out of both platforms we’ve had since the Xbox was released, transforming consoles into sub-par PCs, and closing the PC into a less free/open platform is something that was far more harmful to the formers than the later.

      For now at least.

      I miss the days when you had consoles for immediacy and convenience, and PCs allowed you to play games *exactly* the way you wanted to play, as long as you were willing to sacrifice the time to make it happen.

  31. ZX k1cka55 48K says:

    Thats Microsoft being dicks.
    They should just admit that they became clueless about what their customers or PC gamers want.
    Look at GWFL or at Windows 8, no wonder that even Gabe finds this shit worthless and wants migrate to Linux…
    As for GFWL, they should either make this shit functional and finish what they (so terribly) started, or get rid of it and admit defeat.

  32. uNapalm says:

    My recent experience of GFWL playing Dark Souls: Changed my GFWL username but discovered that GFWL doesn’t copy save games across to the new name so I launched Dark Souls to find the Load Game option ominously missing. Found out where the save was under the old name and copied it to the new game, which worked. Stupid and annoying but hey it was easy to fix. I then decided I wanted to change my name back but found a) this can’t be done and b) if I want to change my name again IT WILL COST ME 8 POUND FUCKING FIFTY. Yes, £8.50 to change my username. The sooner GFWL dies the better (and I will gloat over the corpse).

  33. mbp says:

    Ah fond memories of EMM386. Games used to get very excited about whether you 620k or 630k of free memory if I recall.

    One thing I vaguely remember from those dark days of MS dos was that many games would allow you to make a special boot disk that would boot up you computer is a known configuration guaranteed to run their game. I wonder if any of the online gaming portals like Steam would consider that solution again. It wouldn’t matter if you were running a PC or a MAC or even a PS4, Steam woudl just reboot you into a known operating system and all your games are guaranteed to work.

  34. Jason Moyer says:

    I had tons of issues with keeping GFWL installed/up to date up until about a year ago. Since then I’ve just downloaded this whenever I reinstall windows/GFWL games, install it, and it seems to work fine.

    http://www.xbox.com/en-US/LIVE/PC/DownloadClient

  35. Premium User Badge

    gnodab says:

    God this reminds me of the time i tried to use GFWL. Sadly I wasn’t as successful. After completing the single player part of SSFIV I felt like I could finally venture online, but I didn’t realize that the offline and online versions of GFWL seem to be incompatible. So after an hour of bewilderment the support told me to register a new account. Also I should create a hotmail account while I am at it, cause otherwise I would not own the games i thought i owned. They all belong to the GFWL-ID I’d choose. Funny enough after creating the new account and attempting to activate the game under this account, I couldn’t play the game anymore. Not even offline. So after five phone calls to the Support (which did cost me about four hours of my live) they had such helpful suggestions for me as: give us your IP-Address and stop your router from resetting it ever again…
    So because this didn’t go so well the support guy told me I’d need to contact the technical support, which would only correspond via Mail. The tech guys of course demanded proof that I actually own my games. So I caved in and took a screenshot from in game with the helpful steam overlay. Of course this wouldn’t suffice and they demanded that I’d take a photograph of my game-keys, of a handwritten note containing my GFWL-ID. I politely mentioned that I don’t own a digital camera, whereupon they send me the exact same mail again.
    This was the point at which I had to leave the house for a moment… Sadly I am not as ressourcful as Mr. Meer and therefore obviously not whorty of, you know, playing my games. The funny part is now I also can’t play Batman AC, Dawn of War(all of them) or Red Faction anymore.
    Fun.

  36. cjlr says:

    As a man whose forays into PC gaming were in the late nineties, I’ve codged together my share of wonky hackarounds for the odd buggy game back in the day, but DOS is only a vague childhood memory, to say nothing of first-gen CD-ROMs, or load order and kilos of ram being the make or break…

    Er, but anyway. I’ve yet to have an actual problem with GFWL. Probably because I’ve used it so little. It can’t fail every time, right? At least, it hasn’t for me…

  37. povu says:

    I want to play GTA 4 again but it’s just not worth the hassle of installing, there’s so much wrong with it.

  38. Premium User Badge

    JayG says:

    Well I’ve been reintroduced to the pleasures of Games for Windows by stupidly buying the Steam deal of the day. Dead Rising 2, a Games for WIndows Microsoft pleasure refuses to acknowledge my Microsoft controller. It’s wireless, but by the same bastards that do the whole magic that is game for Windows. Maybe I should have brought it on 360.

  39. dogsolitude_uk says:

    “While BioShock 2 can be installed and played via Steam without having to go anywhere near GFWL,”

    HOW?!? I downloaded it on Steam, ‘played’ a grand total of 30 minutes of this before the constant faffing about with GFWL caused me to abandon it :(

    Is there a away of installing/running it via Steam without going near GFWL that I missed?

    Edit: apologies for the hyperbole, Steam’s actually got me down as having 2.2 hours on it, not 30mins.

  40. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    Spending hours breaking and fixing my Amiga in order to play games made me the sysadmin* I am today.

    * relatively well paid and everything

  41. TormDK says:

    Never had any problems with GfWL myself, always worked like a charm.

  42. Just Endless says:

    I tried to purchase Minerva’s Den. Oddly, GFWL actually wouldn’t let me pay for it.

  43. wodin says:

    Funny…sometimes I used to be up all night in a bitter battle with my PC..Man vs Tech…I couldn’t sleep until I’d won!.

  44. Low Life says:

    I ended up just watching the lead designer/writer/level designer Steve Gaynor play the DLC through while providing commentary: http://www.twitch.tv/idlethumbs/b/339126396 (gameplay starts about 18 minutes in)

    Then again I never found the actual gameplay of Bioshock all that interesting.

  45. Neurotic says:

    Trying to get X-Wing going on my mum’s office 386 after school, then trying to get the bugger to recognise a very early, very primitive PC joystick because dog-fighting TIEs with an IBM keyboard is like trying to steer an articulated lorry by smashing the steering wheel with bricks… “those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.” Thank fuck they did!

  46. Shadram says:

    Since I installed Windows 8, the GfWL overlay will not load in either of the Batman: Arkham games, meaning no saves happen. Apparently this is the case for (almost?) everyone running 64bit Win8. I’d been really looking forward to finally playing Arkham City, but now it turns out my purchase is worthless. So fuck GfWL and fuck Microsoft for not even making their own software compatible with their new OS.

  47. StooMonster says:

    What’s the contingency plan for when Microsoft kills off GfWL?

    I mean GTA IV, Fallout 3, Batman Arkham Asylum and other games that use this horror of horrors, what’s going to happen to them?

    Are we going to lose access to them?

    Can someone reverse engineer the GfWL API and make it easy for devs to port to a replacement.

    It’s going to die, Microsoft is going to kill it, although they haven’t said as much their promotion of Windows 8 games and the whole different (but parallel) world in Windows 8, it’s just a matter of when not it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      Can someone reverse engineer the GfWL API and make it easy for devs to port to a replacement.

      That’s a bit of a moot point. The dev’s implemented the use of the GFWL API (assuming such a thing exists) thus it should be trivial for them to replace it. There should be no need to reverse engineer something you already know how to use unless you have retrograde amnesia & deleted all the documentation you had.

  48. Heliocentric says:

    Some people like being hurt Alec, its often called a fetish.

  49. MeestaNob says:

    I would gladly pay large sums of money to strip GFWL from all my games that are infected by it. I hope some companies (such as 2K with Bioshock 2) are listening and willing to step in.

  50. Arglebargle says:

    After my first two experiances with GFWL, my simple solution to their intransigence was to never buy GFWL games again. Good going, Microsoft!