We Know: GFWL Not Shutting Down Next Week

By Alice O'Connor on June 23rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm.

Lovely chap, NastyNorman. We Dark Soulsed a lot. I needed to have some picture here, so.

We’re only a few days from July 1, when Games for Windows Live was supposedly due to shut down. Despite pulling the announcement which sparked all this confusion, for whatever reason Microsoft have been happy enough to let this rumour roll around. Any time they addressed this, it was vague and unhelpful, giving the impression that they planned to kill GFWL at some point but AoEO had jumped the gun. When developers started cutting GFWL out their games, it suggested something was definitely afoot. As July 1 has drawn nearer it’s seemed clear that day won’t bring the end of GFWL–it’d be too little notice–but what about beyond then?

Microsoft have definitively stated that they are “continuing to support” GFWL, by which they mean keeping it alive on life support, a respirator and feeding tube half-heartedly jammed down its throat.

Before we get to the new statement, this mess has confused lots of people, so let’s recap. In August 2013, a note on Age of Empires Online‘s support page said the game would go down when GFWL died on July 1, 2014. Microsoft soon withdrew that statement in a cryptic way, saying that they foresaw “transitions as we build out new investments” and would “share more details in the future.” Which sounded an awful lot like “Yeah, we are, but we weren’t supposed to say that yet.”

This was seemingly supported by developers of games from BioShock 2 to WH40K: Dawn of War patching GFWL out in favour of Steamworks. Yes, GFWL is horrible, but it’s rare nowadays for developers to make big changes years after launch simply for the good of their players. This wasn’t confirmation, but did seem to support the story. Even Ms. Splosion Man, made by Microsoft-owned Twisted Pixel, replaced GFWL with Steamworks last week.

The last, and most concrete thing, we heard was in March. Microsoft Studios head Phil Spencer commented that they had plans for GFWL which he wouldn’t reveal yet, but that shutting the service down “isn’t exactly the right thing to do.” He cleared things up a bit, but not much.

Now we’re up to speed, here’s what’s new. Microsoft last week gave Game Informer this statement:

We are continuing to support the Games for Windows Live service. As previously announced, as part of the retirement of Microsoft Points the Xbox.com PC marketplace was closed. Although customers are unable to purchase new games from the marketplace or receive title updates, they can continue to enjoy previously purchased content by downloading them through the Games for Windows Live client as usual. We remain committed to investing in PC gaming in the years ahead, and look forward to sharing more in the future.

So GFWL will continue to run, for now at least. You can still play your GFWL games, though you can’t patch them (if it uses the GFWL patcher) or buy DLC. The service will inevitably shut down at some point or be rebooted in a new form, as every tech service does. Perhaps Microsoft are simply giving devs a little more time to switch away from GFWL. For all our sake, let’s hope Microsoft handle the eventual shutdown announcement less clumsily. Writing all these vague news stories has been a right pain in my rump.

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59 Comments »

  1. FurryLippedSquid says:

    \o/

  2. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    “The peasants of Peacey…” gasped the Dark Lord of Ekzbokz in his mirth, “They really believed I would slay my own G’fwill? They thought I would destroy the very symbol of their oppression? Such fools they are. The G’fwill merely sleeps. At my command it shall rise again and wreak havoc once more!”
    His laughter echoed throughout the land.

    • Viroso says:

      G’fwill will unleash its final form, as the Dark Lord Ekzbokz infuses it with pure hatred so it can become something even more terrifying, beyond death, beyond reason.

  3. Niko says:

    Goddamit GFWL, you had one job!

    • brulleks says:

      …and that job, Mr. GFWL, was to die.

      *Strokes cat and laughs hysterically. Then, realising the implications of this predicament, sobers up and jumps in shark pool.*

  4. distantlurker says:

    In other news, you can still buy overpriced, poor quality household goods from woolworths(.co.uk)!

    #JustDieAlready

  5. salejemaster says:

    Damn it, I was waiting for this so I can finally play Dark Souls :[

    • AngelTear says:

      If you were waiting for the GFWL servers to shutdown so that you could play Dark Souls, you’ll be happy to know GFWL has (and has always had) an offline mode, although, given how many connection problems it gave for me it really felt like playing offline already, except for the soapstone messages.
      If you were waiting for DS to switch to Steamworks, I guess we’ll all have to keep waiting.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      And now Dark Souls is 75 % off on Steam, costing a measly 5 euros. Such a cruel fate! I was also looking forward to be able to play Dark Souls without GFWL, but now I’ll just put it further down on my to-play-after-decreasing-backlog-list.

    • gnodab says:

      This, so much!
      Plus I bought Bulletstorm not realizing it had GfWL and was hoping I could play it next month….

  6. Solidstate89 says:

    I don’t see this as an issue of “just die already.” The service basically only still exists for those games that didn’t get GFWL patched out. You can’t buy or update any software with it – it’s effectively dead in all but name only. Except, good news, those few games that didn’t get patched to support Steamworks, are still playable. For now.

    Why is everyone so mad?

    • Viroso says:

      It has brought me nothing but pain and rage. It needs to die. It has to, but ours isn’t a just world.

    • Lemming says:

      Why is everyone so mad?

      Probably because it gives devs who can’t be arsed, an out. GFWL dying at least either forced their hand or made them look bad for not supporting their games.

      • WiggumEsquilax says:

        Because the cancerous growth must be stricken, for the host to live!

      • Baines says:

        “The glass is half empty”:
        Publishers have lost the incentive to patch out GFWL.

        “The glass is half full(?)”:
        Publishers have had at least a year(*) to remove GFWL from existing games. Anything not patched by this point likely wasn’t going to see a patch, whether or not Microsoft refused to pull the plug at the last minute. At least this way people get to keep playing Bulletstorm.

        “The glass has a hole in the bottom”:
        Publishers that didn’t find it cost-effective to fix their GFWL titles are going to keep selling those same titles right up until the random morning that Microsoft pulls the plug.

        “Wait, is this half a glass of apple juice? Because I thought it was orange juice”:
        People have assumed that Microsoft’s statement means that online multiplayer will remain functional. However, Microsoft’s statement as quoted by Game Informer says nothing about the fate of online multiplayer, or even Bulletstorm’s verification service. Microsoft only promised that people will continue to be able to download purchased games..

        (*) I said that publishers have know about the shutdown of GFWL for at least a year because they most likely knew for some time before the leak happened. I would guess that they knew at least by May of that year, as May is when Capcom announced that Ultra Street Fighter 4 would use Steamworks instead of GFWL. Capcom is one of those companies that wouldn’t switch from GFWL unless they were forced to, particularly for a game that was being built on an engine that was already running on GFWL on PC.

        • Lemming says:

          Nice! Can I also add, just for fun:

          “OMG This is apple juice?! I’m allergic to apple juice!”

          People who bought games and didn’t realise until too late it had GFWL.

          • captain nemo says:

            :( I bought ‘Microsoft Flight’ late one night last year in a haze of optimism. Then I realised it used GFWL, so uninstalled it immediately

            This garbage needs to die, and let us move on with our lives (X-Plane http://www.x-plane.com/desktop/home/)

    • Shooop says:

      Because without the necessity of jumping ship, some publishers won’t bother doing it.

      From Software sure won’t.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I’m sure however there are some companies who are no longer in business with games on GFWL. At least it keeps these running as it’s unlikely a game in that situation will ever get patched.

        • Papageno says:

          That’s exactly the problem–developers who are no longer around. I’ve got the following GFWL games that still need patching to remove GFWL:
          Dead Rising 2 (will never happen, probably)
          Bulletstorm (developer gone)
          Red Faction Guerilla (?)

          • RobF says:

            RF:G is having it patched out at some point. What’s replacing it is anyone’s guess though.

  7. Torn says:

    > We remain committed to investing in PC gaming in the years ahead, and look forward to sharing more in the future.

    How many times can they parrot this PR speak before it becomes meaningless? Actions speak louder than words, and there have been no PC-related actions out of MS for quite some time now

    • Evil Pancakes says:

      Well, that’s not entirely true. MS have taken several PC gaming related actions over the past few years. It’s just that all those actions only served to screw over PC gamers.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Aye. As a random example, i’m still not seeing any Forza Motorsports game on PC.

    • OctoStepdad says:

      They really should just start porting over Xbox One Games like they are doing with Dead Rising 3. Announce it 6 months after the console release so it doesn’t effect those sales. But increase some sales by throwing it on steam, amazon digital, etc…

      I really want to play Sunset Overdrive but there is not chance I am buying a console at this moment (and most likely never will).

  8. iainl says:

    On the bright side, Dark Souls still works. On the dark side, I still can’t get past the second Dark Souls boss.

  9. mr.ioes says:

    If it was shut down, games like Bulletstorm wouldn’t be playable anymore, right?

    • Artiforg says:

      Sadly that would be the case as we have to log into GFWL if we want to play Bulletstorm. The only good thing about GFWL with Bulletstorm is that it doesn’t require me to have the CD in (yes I bought the CD version).

      I pray that GFWL is patched out of Bulletstorm but as it’s EA………

    • XhomeB says:

      Bulletstorm is a special case if I recall correctly, pretty much every single GFWL game can be launched in offline mode, so those should remain playable in case MS decide to shut GFWL down permanently.

    • Shooop says:

      The multiplayer (which was dead even to begin with anyway) wouldn’t work.

  10. Shodex says:

    And yet again, GFWL proves it can’t do anything right.

  11. XhomeB says:

    I’d love it if RPS could get in touch with a MS representative (Phil Spencer?) and have an honest conversation about GFWL and the reason it hasn’t been shut down already, THE LACK OF commitment to PC gaming, Gears of War PC not being sold digitally anywhere or getting Steamworks support, MS’s horrible attitude towards PC gamers and old PC franchises they still own, you know the drill.
    Boy, would that be a good read, especially if the questions were tough, to the point and the interviewer wasn’t tolerant of meaningless PR speak.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      It’s almost as if Microsoft intentionally “leaked” the news of the shutdown, waited for everyone to patch their games then mere days before the supposed shutdown date conveniently come out of hiding and make an official statement saying they will still support games. If they’d have come out initially and said this, people wouldn’t have been patching it out of their games and their servers would be much more expensive to run.
      Sneaky tactics from Microsoft here, all the while still doing absolutely fuck all to support PC gaming.

    • frightlever says:

      I got as far as “honest” and realised you must have gotten loose on the over-ripe berries.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Or, you know, do some real journalism, find some ‘non-official’ sources and reveal what’s actually going on there. One can dream, eh?

  12. Metalhead9806 says:

    Well… if its not closing maybe Valve could return some of the GFWL games back to Steam. Games like Dirt 2 and Fuel vanished. There’s no reason to axe them from steam now if GFWL is going to stay online.

  13. OctoStepdad says:

    ^ lol he couldn’t get a new one.. good job spambot.

    • Darth Gangrel says:

      I read “My Uncle got a nearly new cream” and thought “Why didn’t he look at the expiration date? Or ask about it? Why would he settle for *nearly* new cream, when there should be completely new cream available at your local store?” and then read Mercedes, which lessened the fun factor, so I just ignored that part.

  14. Ender7 says:

    I wonder if this is to avoid lawsuits from developers who used their shitty DRM under Microsoft urging.

  15. neolith says:

    Kill it. Kill it with fire!

  16. Tayh says:

    Remove one drm program and replace it with another.
    Hilarity ensues.
    Lulz.

    • gnodab says:

      In a perfect world I would buy all of my games on GOG/GG.
      But if I have to run games through DRM, it’d be swell if it worked. I had RF:Gorilla, SSFIV, 40k DoW, Dark Souls and many others on GFWL. At some point it arbitrarily decided to stop working. After weeks of e-mails and phonecalls (one dude was actually helpful and tried to find a solution and stayed on the phone with me for three hours), setting up a completely new GFWL Profile the games still wouldn’t register. Then I was outsourced to a “tech dude” who couldn’t be reached via phone and demanded, in broken english, that I send him copies off all my recites and a copy of my ID Card to prove the games which had been working for months and which are still linked to my steam account were mine.
      Sorry for the outburst, but I am still mad…
      And that in an age were piracy is so easy, I can get all the games on less time than it takes me to write this post!

  17. Spacewalk says:

    Yeah sure, cares about PC gaming. We all believed that one, right.

  18. drewski says:

    I believe this means achievements, authentication and multiplayer will continue to work for the time being.

    Good, good.

  19. frightlever says:

    I hope GFWL doesn’t shut down because I just installed Fuel on my HTPC, the one with the tiny bluetooth keyboard, and I had to re-enter my GFWL details four times. That long complicated password isn’t looking so clever right now, let me tell you.

  20. gibb3h says:

    What are the chances of Capcom moving RE5 to steamworks :(

  21. Koinzellgaming says:

    Noooooooooooooooooooooooo. Now I’ll never be able to buy the games I intended to buy once GFWL was gone. D: … Microsoft doesn’t want my money. :(

  22. Megakoresh says:

    If they have some sort of replacement planned for GFWL I’d think they are holding back information until that replacement is ready for reveal.

  23. Samantha says:

    Thank you guys for your opinions. I am not very good at this.
    presentation and speech writing

  24. Method says:

    Dark Souls is 5 bucks on the Steam Sale right now, but there’s now way I’m going to buy it.

    GFWL will never touch my new computer.

  25. jamesgecko says:

    While I’m happy that my copies of Viva Pinata and Age of Empires III still work, I’d be even happier if Microsoft would release an unlocker for GFWL. Some application that pretends to be the real GFWL server so that games that don’t get patched will still run. Bonus points if people can extend it and run their own Dark Souls servers.