Good News, Bad News, THQ News

Good: “You’re going to see us putting out almost every, single console title we can on PC to expand our audience and expand the customer base, ultimately,” says THQ mega-honcho Danny Bilson. Smart guy.

Bad: “Microsoft is really talking to me a lot about getting back on Games for Windows Live [instead of/as well as Steamworks]… I really, really, really like Microsoft as a partner. They’re fantastic partners. I want to respect them.”

Nnng. We were so close. Okay. Okay. But do it because they’ve told and shown you convincing proof about how they’re going to improve the service, not just because they’re Bigger Boys With Lots Of Money.



  1. Alex Bakke says:

    God damn it.

  2. gryffinp says:

    I wonder if it has occurred to THQ that putting games on the PC without GFWL may result in better sales? It would certainly result in better reception of the games.

  3. SquareWheel says:

    I accidentally bought a GFWL title the other day. Insta-rage.

  4. Vinraith says:

    GfWL, Steam, here’s a crazy idea: drop both of ’em. I might actually buy one of your games for something resembling full price if you did.

    • Hallgrim says:

      I really don’t understand why people hate on steam. Is one more icon in your system tray really so offensive?

    • noobnob says:

      I’d rather have none of both as well, but I can deal with it…for now.

    • Karthik says:

      @Hallgrim: If, for whatever reason, my PC hangs with Steam running in the background in offline mode (leading to a hard reboot), I can’t play my games until I can go online again. This is the only problem I have with “another icon in the system tray”. It happens not very often, but often enough to make me feel like I can’t play my games when I want to. (At least GFWL does not have this problem.)

      Everything else about Steam is Super.

    • Bhazor says:


      You’ve never had your account banned without warning then?

    • Shagittarius says:

      I never thought I’d pine for the days of disc based copy protection. But I do.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      @ Halgrim

      I really don’t understand why people are so quick to state they don’t understand why some people might dislike Steam, or prefer not to use it. If you’re not a multiplayer or community-focused kind of gamer it’s really just pointless DRM with an annoying client.

      Better than some other DRM methods and GFWL I grant you, but it’s not hard to understand why it doesn’t float everyone’s boat.

    • OctaneHugo says:

      While I understand there are problems with Steam’s offline mode, they have tremendous, frequent sales, a large store and the only problems I’ve ever experienced with it were some bugs. In this day and age there are very, very few people who exclusively play single player games, and even then there’s still some merit to the community features (like getting news on your games) and updating games is a total breeze. Steam Cloud is also great for using the same data on multiple computers and there’s other good stuff there as well.

      Steam is better suited for people who enjoy multiplayer but even if you’re one of the few that don’t it still has great merits.

    • Kefren says:

      “very, very few people who exclusively play single player games, and even then there’s still some merit to the community features”

      I play single player 95% of the time. Multiplayer is either on the same PC (joysticks and C64/Amiga emulator or games like Trackmania), or LAN, or Internet via Hamachi+LAN. I never use any other systems, and don’t want to. Community features, unnecessary software, other people’s ideas of ‘achievements’, DRM – all those things are either irrelevant or – worse – irritations to me.

      Oh, I have an Xbox 360. Again, I only play SP or local multiplayer (in which case it is usually Rock Band).

      I also hate having to create extra accounts (I’m already on over 50 logins and passwords), hence I won’t buy GFWL or Steamworks stuff.

    • Danarchist says:

      I hate anything that forces me to go online before I can use something I paid hard cash for. I’m against pirating (ya, I said it, big whoop, wanna fight about it?) more than most gamers I know but this kinda crap is absurd. Sometimes I am nowhere near even a twinkle of internet, like say middle of the woods in a fire tower, and I need to kill a few boring days. If I cant play the games I paid big bucks for in that time it pissed me off no end

    • Acosta says:

      The discussion about Steam is tiring. Don’t like it? don’t buy it, but spare us of hearing, again, how rebel are you. Install Fedora, play whatever you can play with that and enjoy your freedom.

      I prefer Steam over:

      -changing discs (no, I’m not going to install no cd or whatever crap I need to break security and yes, I’m lazy like that)
      -any DRM I have found in all these years.
      -any other service, like Impulse.
      -searching in a manual with red glasses to find the proper code.

      And every developer under the sun will tell you that Steamworks is a lifesaver, and it´s going to get better. If THQ don’t want to listen their userbase, they should listen to their developers.

      “I also hate having to create extra accounts (I’m already on over 50 logins and passwords), hence I won’t buy GFWL or Steamworks stuff.”

      That’s hilarious, do you wear a special hat to avoid being detected by satellites?

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      Bhazor, you have a tendency to be really caustic. There may have been a reason for it.

    • Wilson says:

      @Acosta – I’ve found Impulse to be just as good as Steam, and better in some ways. I expect it would end up being much like Steam if it became more popular, but I’ve not had any problems with it as I have with Steam on occasion. That might be only because I don’t need to start it up as much, but still.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Yeah, count me as another guy who has had absolutely no problems with either Steam or Impulse. I do play a decent amount of TF2 and the occasional other online multiplayer game, but mostly I do play singleplayer games and I’ve found them to be pretty unobtrusive. Plus SALES, community features, etc.

      GFWL on the other hand is ANOTHER login prompt that NEVER SEEMS TO REMEMBER MY PASSWORD. That’s about all I can be bothered to remember about it. I tend to avoid Steam games that have GFWL attached to them for multiplayer because it’s annoying.

    • DrGonzo says:

      Used to love Impulse, but it keeps popping up adverts from it’s icon in the taskbar.

    • skalpadda says:

      I find Steam handy, as a place where I can have most of my games all in one place, easier to install and uninstall, no need to keep track of discs and serial keys and usually faster than installing from discs as well. Being able to impulse buy stuff and have them instantly playable on the sales is a nice thing too.

      That said, I do understand those who have reservations about it as a form of online DRM or are annoyed by having to install Steam for games without having bought them there.

    • elyscape says:

      You can disable that. Right click the taskbar icon -> Settings -> uncheck “Show Promotions”

    • Kadayi says:

      Hey guess what? Firefly got cancelled, move on already.

  5. TenjouUtena says:

    Bad: “Microsoft is really talking to me a lot about getting back on Games for Windows Live [instead of/as well as Steamworks]… I really, really, really like Microsoft’s money.”

    There, I fixed it for you.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      Yeah that’s what I read too. MS is just throwing tons of cash at them to get them to drop Steamworks. Even if THQ goes back to GFWL, Steam still kills them in the online service department and that’s not going to change.

    • Zogtee says:

      Danny: A large moneyhat has been placed on my head. I like moneyhats.

    • subedii says:

      If it were a case of MS simply throwing money at THQ and that making the difference, Retribution would have never ditched GFWL in the first place.

      This is a mountain out of a molehill. All he’s said is that he respects MS in their partnership, but that’s always been the case. This did not stop them from ultimately deciding that GFWL was holding DoW2 back and going with Steamworks instead. It’s not a decision that was easily made (frankly, ditching GFWL, re-writing your entire multiplayer architecture and splitting your fanbase is a ridiculously bad situation to be in), but it’s one that they felt had to be made.

      The most that the THQ Boss is saying is that he’s leaving the door open to GFWL being viable in the future. Right now, he doesn’t need to say that they’re not going to choose GFWL, they’ve already made that choice and shown it with both DoW2 and Space Marine.

      There’s the potential for GFWL to be viable sometime in the future. It would be unwise to say it’s never going to happen. At the same time this doesn’t equate to freaking confirmation that THQ is suddenly impressed with GFWL and would be willing to give it a second shot as it currently exists.

    • Theory says:

      “If it were a case of MS simply throwing money at THQ and that making the difference, Retribution would have never ditched GFWL in the first place.”

      It’s inconceivable that they raised their offer?

    • subedii says:

      Is it inconceivable that they didn’t?

      Or for that matter, that he’s simply being honest and saying that GFWL is always going to be an option, and we shouldn’t automatically equate that to a shift in their stance?

      OR for that matter, that at this stage after making the extremely hard decision to switch from GFWL retribution and having done tonnes of work towards re-working the multiplayer architecture for Steamworks, that they aren’t likely to simply drop all that and go back on a whim?

  6. XM says:

    I just want more PC games GFWL, Steam or old school I don’t care as long as games are still being made for PC I’m happy.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I wish this was said more often.

    • OctaneHugo says:

      I wish GFWL wasn’t terrible enough to make me not say this.

    • Bill says:

      Butbutbut GFWL is SO TERRIBLE that I’d rather have NO GAMES EVER and get SHOT by NAZIS

    • tapanister says:

      Well Bill, I dunno about you, but personally, and although I’d rather not get shot by zem dam nazis, I wouldn’t play a GfWL game. Never again since Gears of War. Ever. It’s just fucking bad.

      I’m not some douchey indie loving fanboy, but I swear I’d rather play Minecraft Alpha for the rest of my life than play any of that shit that runs on GfWL… EVARRRR (again).

    • Bill says:

      Yeah, I avoided Gears on PC – heard some terrible things.

      Hooray for Minecraft though, that shit is *tight*

    • Jad says:

      I agree with XM. I would prefer old school, no DRM whatsoever, but a choice between GFWL and dropping PC support and moving entirely to consoles, I’ll take GFWL. I’ve used it for Batman and Street Fighter IV, and it worked fine for me.

  7. ScubaMonster says:

    If they go back to using GFWL and Microsoft doesn’t make a gigantic improvement to the service, I’m not buying any more THQ games. I like Dawn of War, but I hate GFWL even more. And just when they switched to Steamworks they are announcing they might go back to GFWL.

  8. hyperactiveChipmunk says:

    Cue “The Price Is Right” failure horns.

    • Buzko says:

      I prefer the QI siren: -10 for OBVIOUS and WRONG. (@HyperactiveChipmunk).

      I gave up on Batman because of GFWL. I have a limited amount of time and a large backlog. Plus DVDs to watch and console-toys to play with. I’m not going to play a game if I can’t get the damn thing to load without it feeling like work (update client. restart computer. update client again. update client again because the first two updates failed. start client manually. find logon. reset password because both i and the client have forgotten it. wait while the game updates (which was for some reason was impossible without the client being up to date and the game being logged in). give up and play borderlands. or recettear. or trine. or bob came in pieces. or dark crusade. or league of legends. or starcraft 2. or plants vs zombies. or puzzle quest 2. et bloody cetera.) config.sys editing involved less bullshit than this.

      THQ, I want to buy and play your games (at least the ones with Space Pirate Orcs and Nazi Eunuch Catholics). i bought the last two DOW2 games on release. Please don’t make me suffer more for supporting your products.

      </rant, </hyperbole

  9. somnolentsurfer says:

    Arrrrg. God dammit. This comments thread is now a petition, right?


  10. ScubaMonster says:

    I haven’t tried Dawn of War 2 after it switched to Steamworks, but I can say that GFWL destroyed the online multiplayer.

    • Hunam says:

      Dawn of War 2 and Chaos Rising will still be on GFWL, you can’t just remove it unfortunately.

      Or if they could, they wont, because it will fuck the achievements up. Too many rules for MS, and the certification process on PC games and patches is insane, why any dev would submit to that and then having to pay for those patches is insane.

    • subedii says:

      One of the big reasons Relic went with GFWL because at the time it was the only viable option for doing skills based matchmaking.

      Now it would appear that’s no longer the case and they’re willing to try implementing their own matchmaking system on Steamworks.

    • Theory says:

      They had already created their own skill-ranked matchmaking/lobby system for Company of Heroes. They ditched it for GFWL.

    • subedii says:

      They ditched it because they thought GFWL would work out well for the multiplayer, and also save them some effort in implementation.

      This unfortunately however, has not turned out to be the case.

    • Ravenger says:

      If I recall correctly Relic were also surprised when users complained to them that they’d been locked out of multiplayer as they’d run out of GFWL activations.

      Relic specifically asked for no activation limits and didn’t even know that GFWL had activation limits!

      Which isn’t surprising as Microsoft had never got around to actually telling anyone about them. They certainly aren’t notified on the packaging or in the manuals.

      I love activation limits, especially ones that are so secret that even the developers don’t know about them, that you can’t ever find out how many you have left, and which Microsoft will only ever reset by giving you a new key once. Ever.

  11. Tei says:

    GFWL is crazy bad. If you buy into Microsoft words, and put GFWL in your game, you shit on your customers head.

  12. Artist says:

    Well, DoW2 did it already on its own… awful game related to the first one.

    • Urael says:

      Thank Christ somebody else thinks this way as well! DOW2 is just not as good as the first DOW.

    • Wilson says:

      @Artist – I wouldn’t say it was bad compared to the first one. I would say it was a very different game. I don’t think you can compare them. DOW2 is more like a sci-fi sequel to Company of Heroes (which some like and some don’t, but it isn’t anything like the original DOW) than a sequel to the first game.

    • Matthew says:

      @ Wilson – pretty much how I feel too. I love both of them, in very different ways.

    • Urael says:

      ehhhhm, no, I think you CAN compare them. How? Well, one’s called Dawn of War while the other is called Dawn of War 2. Similar names, see? They kind of invite comparison, what with being from the same series and all. Or is everyone who compared the two Star Wars trilogies getting it wrong, too?

    • Theblazeuk says:

      If you’re wondering what that whooshing sound is Urael – its the point, passing just over your head. You can compare DOW and DOW2 but it is comparing DOW to Company of WH40k heroes. Some people like it, some people don’t.

  13. Hunam says:

    I think it’s time to get on the opinon email-o-tron to THQ. We used to have a community manager pottering around on EG, till I complained about him for being super creepy. Guess I shot myself in the foot now.

    • DJ Phantoon says:

      So we can safely blame our lack of response options on you, then?

  14. noobnob says:

    Gotta say MS is really in need of expanding their GfWL 2011 catalog, none of their titles there seem to be real pushers, mainstream games for their platform, except for AoE: Online.

  15. SwiftRanger says:

    DoW II is/was the second most played GfWLive game, Live wasn’t perfect but so isn’t Steam. I got as irritated by DoW II’s lag and matchmaking as much as those of L4D1 and L4D2’s. Don’t praise Steam until you’ve seen a developer go really, really crazy with it. Afaik, SupCom 2 and Ruse still suffer from the same online RTS matchmaking failures, even though they used Steam.

    I am very curious whether Relic wants to go all the way with Steamworks, just matching the feature set of what Live offered (ranked team matchmaking, ranked FFA matchmaking, Last Stand matchmaking, visual rewards, a rating system, …) is gonna be one hell of a job. Steamworks isn’t 2.0 guys, it only provides some space to work with, much of it is still up to the developers themselves. If you know how long it took to get the new out then I fear we shouldn’t have too high expectations of Retribution’s online services.

    • gryffinp says:

      Well theoretically we’re gonna be seeing some of that stuff with Dota 2. So there might be some framework in place that Relic can use?

    • Helios_Five says:

      Thank god it isn’t Battlenet 2.0. That service is awful. Its on the level with GFWL.

      Have you taken a look at the custom games? They can only be sorted by popularity, you cannot host a game unless you created the map or it is in the top 50 games list.
      Even singleplayer games have to abide by the same ridiculous restrictions. You cannot make custom campaigns anymore.
      Blizzard also feel they have the right to censor and remove any map they dont like. One especially stupid one has to be when they removed a popular map becauce the units briefly could form a swaztika when they marched onto the map. It’s a geometric shape, the map was symmetrical.
      They dont give mapmakers a chance to change maps when they are banned for frivolous reasons.

      I wont buy any Blizzard game til they fix Battnet 2.0 thats for sure.

      Phew! Rant over.

      This could perhaps be the topic of a RPS article since I haven’t seen these issues mentioned anywhere except the Blizzard forums.

    • subedii says:

      Regarding the difficulty of implementation, I asked a Relic dev on a forum I visit how the switch to Steamworks has been going and how confident they are in its implementation. He said:

      “Having everything going through a single source instead of two is obviously easier. We’re very confident of the outcome, things are working well already. And with a beta, we’ll get plenty of stress testing on things like matchmaking, achievements, etc.”

      For that matter, there’s also the issue of patching, which another Relic dev on the RelicNews forums had this to say:

      “FYI on the bug fixing front a Steam patch can be applied in a matter of hours, most of which involve making coffee, chatting about the latest season of Survivor and pressing the upload button.”

      If you want a more detailed answer as to whether they really want to make the switch away from GFWL, well, I made a massive post about that below. But basically, yes, they really really do. As much as you may want to equate Steam with GFWL here, they quite simply aren’t in the same league. A massive change like this doesn’t happen unless there’s no other real option, if for nothing else than getting rid of the ludicrous patch delays for “Microsoft Certification”.

    • DrGonzo says:

      SupCom 2 has no problems for me. DoW 2 on the other hand I found to be a nightmare. While Left4Dead 1 and 2 did both have pretty bad problems at launch, they were fixed and now work fine. GFWL is shit and they haven’t done anything to improve it or fix it.

  16. IDDQD says:

    Hey guys, let’s start a petition!

  17. Shodan says:

    Do not be decieved, Danny.

  18. Jon says:

    They may both have some matchmaking issues but GFWL won’t run in the background so I can’t chat with/invite/get invites from my friends unless I’m in game.

    Furthermore (and I find this ridiculous) if there is an update for a GFWL game, when you log in it tells you it needs to download the patch. You have to sit there with the game open but the patching screen running while it downloads and installs the patch- usually this takes forever as the servers seem to be suuuuper slow. If you buy a game after several patches have come out- you have to sit through this process for each of them. Steam patches everything in the background while I’m doing other things. With GFWL, if there is a patch I now close out the game, find the patch somewhere online, download it manually and install it myself. This is faster 100% of the time in my experience.

    Steam may not be perfect, but GFWL has no redeeming qualities in my eyes.

    • Delusibeta says:

      To be fair on GfWL, does most of that kind of stuff. The problem is the word “Xbox”: it’s designed and geared towards the console.

    • Jim Reaper says:

      @ Delusibeta

      Well, it can fuck off then! Slightly misleading when I don’t own (or ever intend on owning) an Xbox.

  19. Ravenger says:

    GFWL encrypts your save games making it very difficult, sometimes impossible to move between machines or accounts. That’s the biggest bugbear for me.

    • Arthur Barnhouse says:

      Me too. I like to do my own backup of save files, just in case. When I bought Dead Rising 2, I spend probably four hours trying to find my save. I never did find it, apparently I just need to trust them. I had never bought a GFWL game before that, it was a brutal opening experience.

    • Nethlem says:

      Yeah and the funny part about this is that steam goes into the exactly opposite direction with steam cloud. So you have your savegames/controls on every PC you log into your steam account, such a great feature.

      I think that shows pretty well where the problem is…

  20. Alaric says:

    Damnation damnation! = “superdamnation”;
    damnation! = damnation! * damnation!;

    And I just had an article published where I wish for GWFL to go away forever. :’-(

  21. Tuco says:

    Jesus Christ, that crap again.

  22. Collic says:

    Ugh GFWL. Sadly its always going to be an attractive prospect for any company that develops cross platform games, without even taking into account the money they doubtlessly throw their way.

    Lumping GFWL in with steam may suit some peoples personal agendas but its damaging to us as PC gamers imo since GFWL is so much more odious, and if you think Valve is as big a danger as Microsoft to the freedom of the PC platform you need your head checking.

  23. Savage says:

    It’s amazing to me how completely out of touch THQ and so many other pseudo PC games developers are with the large PC gaming communities (you know, the ones that can push thousands of sales by word of mouth alone?) Our community has over 1000 financial supporters, our game servers see over half a million connections a month (TF2, L4D, CSS, BC2), and I can tell THQ and any other developer that cares to listen that there is not a gaming community on the planet willing to build a community following around a GFWL-supported title, no matter how good it might be.

    We tried it once with Section 8 (not a great title, but certainly a unique one with potential). Not only did it takes nearly two months to even get a dedicated server up and running (due to the POS GFWL licensing system hobbling dedicated server operators), but the patching system, friends list, and the backend admin system were absolute garbage. GFWL is an absolute bloated piece of shoddy code, M$ has no clue how to support PC games anymore, and we were forced to abandon the game out of sheer frustration with trying to host it.

    While Steam certainly isn’t perfect, Valve KNOWS how to properly support PC games and foster communities around those games. They KNOW that server admins need proper tools to support their servers (not somethign cobbled together and bolted on as an after thought), and their “games as a service” mantra is why we’ll most likely support everything they release in earnest (DOTA2, etc).

    SO….THQ….go ahead and let M$ buy you off and force you onto their shoddy service once again….by doing so, you’ll taking your game out of consideration for support from countless online communities who could actually drive sales for you. I hope that fat check will be worth all your work being ignored.

  24. omicron says:

    Heck, I want to respect them [Microsoft] too. But I can’t.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      Precisely, he says he *wants* to respect them, not that he does.

  25. Vandelay says:

    I got Dawn of War 2 last week and been enjoying the game, but hating the service. I find it hard to believe that the game really has such low numbers of players that it can’t find a free for all game (last night it found one person in about five minutes,) and only has around ten custom games being played. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to the goliath that is Starcraft 2, but that really doesn’t sound right. Matchmaking in general seems pretty ridiculous, when in about the sixth game I played I was pitted against someone that was ranked 60 and had hundreds of games under their belt.

    Logging in doesn’t work often, I had to reinstall the GFWL when it refused to download a patch (and not the first time I’ve had to do this,) the achievement announcement is obtrusive and completely at odds with the look of the rest of the game, glancing at update history shows patches taking a long time to be released, etc. etc.

    This sounds like Relic want to ditch GFWL, but THQ want to keep it. Definitely a decision by the money men.

    • Vandelay says:

      Reading the linked article is good too. I should learn to do that more often (well, the opening relevant bit at least.) Here is a particularly good little nugget:

      Shacknews: ….The expansion for Dawn of War 2 [Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War 2 – Retribution] is exclusive to Steamworks, whereas the previous installments launched on the Games for Windows Live platform.

      Danny Bilson: They were on both.

      Shacknews: Well, the games are available on Steam but the actual platform–in terms of multiplayer and achievements–was Games for Windows Live.

      Danny Bilson: Wasn’t the first one on both? Wasn’t Dawn of War 2 on both? I know it’s unusual but I think the first one might have been both. It doesn’t matter.

      (Ed. Note: Dawn of War 2 utilized Steam for the game’s DRM; however, the infrastructure was exclusively tied to Games for Windows Live.)

    • subedii says:

      I don’t play FFA, so I can’t comment on that, but I usually find 3v3 matches pretty fast.

  26. wyrmsine says:

    Well, GFWL makes a game an automatic non-purchase for me (stupid experience, informing my decisions!). I hope THQ doesn’t go back to it.

  27. Navagon says:

    GFWL is terrible. Not Starforce terrible. But not as far away from that kind of computer-destroyingly terrible as it really does need to be.

    If they start using GFWL exclusively then either GFWL is going to have to be changed in every conceivable way (including ditching the hidden activation limits), or I’m not going to be buying any of their games while they’re still more than £5 (which in THQ’s case isn’t that much of a wait).

    • noobnob says:

      I never bothered to check, but I suspect that there’s a THQ game on sale on Steam every 3 months.

      Also, let’s not forget the THQ Complete Pack which is an absolute steal, and in some special sales could be bought for 50 dollars. I expect something similar to happen this year or the next, but I’ll wait for the 2011 releases before considering it again (already bought it once).

    • Navagon says:

      That and retail copies get deducted like crazy online too. Dawn of War 2 was £5 on Play in 2009 – mere months after its release. Their games simply don’t seem to retain value for very long at all.

  28. Matt says:

    Well, here’s the thing. It IS possible that M$ may actually throw so much cash at THQ that it would surpass sales estimates of the game in question. Unless we send THQ a petition promising the pre-purchase the title in question if M$ isn’t used, AND stating that we wouldn’t have bought the game otherwise, AND if that number surpasses the amount of moolah M$ is throwing at THQ, ONLY THEN would THQ confidently switch to Steam.

    THQ is still in the hole, financially. Because of the nature of game development (large financial and labour investment), THQ would be hard-pressed to pass up a fat paycheck of ASSURED money over a SPECULATED gain in sales. Superior support-shmaport, THQ is still pretty close to failing as a company, it can’t afford to pass up money- even if it IS at the expense of player experience.

    After all, if THQ fails as a company, it won’t be able to publish any games to for Steam anyway.

  29. Out Reach says:


  30. Anon says:

    I don’t buy any game that uses that piece of shit GFWL. I won’t in the future and I know many who feel the same way. So feel free to use that useless malware, enjoy your reduced game sales. If the game is actually so good that I must play then yarr harr fiddle dee…

  31. Starky says:

    GFWL’s matchmaking, P2P networking and netcode is really, really solid.

    It’s a shame that everything else about it is utterly crap. Especially the UI/overlay.

  32. subedii says:

    There is far too much angst going on over a throwaway comment.

    All THQ have said is that MS keeps propositioning them to come back to GFWL. Which makes sense, because DoW2 was one of the few big 3rd party PC games GFWL actually had. He talks about having respect for MS as a partner, but that was always the case. The decision to drop GFWL from DoW2 happened whilst this was still the case, has already been made, and nothing has changed between then and now.

    Relic made the decision to drop GFWL from DoW2: Retribution. This is NOT the kind of decision that is taken lightly. It means that they’ve literally had to re-write their multiplayer architecture all over again, and more importantly, they’ve had to break compatibility in order to make the switch, something that Relic have never really done before.

    With previous games (DoW1, CoH, DoW2/CR), it didn’t matter who had which expansion packs, they were all standalone, and crucially, each title had a shared multiplayer community. Someone with just Dark Crusade could still play with someone that just had vanilla Dawn of War 1, and vice versa. This is important, because a split mulitplayer base is always detrimental to a game, which is why Relic have always gone to such great lengths to keep that from happening.

    But ultimately, this is a decision that had to be made. For any number of reasons, GFWL was so detrimental to both Relic and the community, that re-writing the multiplayer architecture and breaking compatibility with the previous versions was actually the best case scenario for them (I can go into those reasons if you really want. Patching issues, lacklustre community system, no external client, savegame issues, it’s a big and complex list).

    So like I said, you DO NOT take this kind of decision lightly. It’s extremely unlikely that Relic will actually be going back to using GFWL, either for Retribution, or any other upcoming addon packs. And Space Marine has also already been confirmed as a Steamworks title, not GFWL.

    The reason that Relic went with GFWL in the first place was largely because of its TrueSkill matchmaking system, something that Steamworks doesn’t have. However, it’s become possible now for Relic to implement their own skills based matchmaking system purely using Steamworks (supreme Commander 2 actually patched this in for 1v1 soon after launch), so there’s no real reason to stick with GFWL, and a whole bunch of reasons not to.

    In the future? Who knows it could happen, maybe GFWL will have evolved to be a valid competitor to Steam and become a worthwhile service. Right now though? Not really happening. GFWL hasn’t changed in between them taking the decision to ditch it, and now. Whilst November 15th is touted as the “big” revamp day for GFWL, the only real change I’m seeing is them adding a web-based store.

    If MS is going to insist on harassing companies to come back to GFWL, what they can start by making a system that’s worth coming back to. They need to get it into their heads that GFWL was dropped for a reason.

  33. Azradesh says:

    Nnng indeed. Piss off and die Microsoft!

  34. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    No no no no! These are BOTH bad news!

    For so long I lamented. “Why of why aren’t they going to release game x on PC?! Please release it on PC!” , lamented I.

    Then they released game Y as a dodgy console port and, after its purchase, the tears of blood I did weep.

    Now like a gluttonous sinner forced to eat – tormented in Hell’s cruel irony – I declaim “Please DONT release it on PC!”

    We’ve been too greedy, fellow RPSer. It’s clear: Console games are for consoles. PC games are for PCs.

    • subedii says:

      And this right here, is the problem, because it’s also clear that you didn’t read the article itself.

      Because for starters, here’s the full quote sequence:

      Shacknews: With Steam, the recent “big push” on that distribution platform has been the Mac. Does THQ want to bring its library to that platform?

      Danny Bilson: If it makes sense. I mean, we want to put the titles on as many platforms as possible and what I love about PC is we control our own destiny there. There are a zillion PC’s out there–I grew up as a PC gamer and I still enjoy playing on my PC, when I can–and you’re going to see every single title from [the Core group at THQ] that makes sense, on PC. I mean, almost every one. The only ones that are not going on PC are ones that really don’t make any sense at all.

      You’re going to see us announcing–I mean, MX vs. ATV Reflix is going to be coming out on PC in a few weeks, we just put out Darksiders on PC. You’re going to see us putting out almost every, single console title we can on PC to expand out audience and expand the customer base, ultimately. Revenue. And it’s the forefront of digital sales. You deal with these games on PC, right? It’s fantastic that way.

      Shacknews: Steam recently announced its membership numbers have jumped to 30 million users.

      Danny Bilson: Yeah. It’s like iTunes. It can’t be ignored and we won’t ignore it.

      Shacknews: PC gaming is at the heart of our community. You mentioned your love for the PC market. In terms of bringing all of those games to PC, will we get closer “day and date” releases for PC gamers when it comes to those console titles?

      Danny Bilson: Sometimes. Homefront has a custom-built, PC version, with everything that traditional PC shooter guys want.

      Shacknews: So, dedicated servers…

      Danny Bilson: Dedicated servers. Different controls. Cockpit views on all the vehicles. It’s built from the ground up for the PC at a different studio.

      He’s telling the truth on that one. Whilst I doubt Homefront is actually going to be a success, or even a decent game, what I do know is that they’ve got a separate dev working specifically for the PC version. There’s an understanding there that bad ports aren’t an option, and simply dumping everything onto the PC without thinking about it is making a bad port.

      Could end up a bad port regardless. But at the very least, what he’s saying here with regards to their approach to the PC version at least marks it as a pretty dedicated attempt. Most devs wouldn’t bother making those kinds of differentiations (insert “LOL Servers” comment).

  35. Medina says:

    The voice chat in GFWL is soooo awesome though. Always crystal clear and I never have to fiddle around pushing a button to talk. Plus I never miss it when someone breaths, coughs, or gets yelled at by their parent/sibling/spouse etc.

  36. WaveOfMutilation says:

    The worst experience I’ve had with GFWL is when Microsoft locked my account for two weeks and wouldn’t tell me if they were going to give my games back or not. It’s the kind of experience I doubt I’d ever have with Steam.

  37. JohnnyMaverik says:

    “not just because they’re Bigger Boys With Lots Of Money.”

    Lies >.<

  38. crazyD says:

    Does this mean we’ll see Costume Quest on PC? I need my Tim Schafer fix!

  39. John Smith says:


    You don’t make much sense. You are arguing that the sort feature under custom games in makes it as bad as GFWL? Really?

    GFWL is anti-pc. It was designed to make the PC look worse than the 360. It was made to make people want to switch to 360 instead of gaming on the PC. Its a fraggin trojan horse.

    I no longer have any respect at all for the devs. You want to work with GFWL? Go ahead. I’m done with you then. You don’t seem to care how GFWL affected your last game. That is just !@#!.

  40. Bill says:

    I really, 100% disagree with this “GFWL sucks” narrative you guys are hawking. I get achievement points on my 360 for stuff I do on my PC this way. I’m happier.

    So the interface is a bit clunky and slow? I’m a god damn PC gamer, clunky, slow, unforgiving – no, punishing – interfaces are my BREAD AND BUTTER.

    Who gives a flying crap about steam achievements, anyway?

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      I really, 100% disagree with this “GFWL sucks” narrative you guys are hawking. I get achievement points on my 360 for stuff I do on my PC this way. I’m happier.

      I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic or not.

    • Bill says:

      I…don’t know what to do with that. I wasn’t being sarcastic – I enjoy accruing achievement points on xbox live (sue me) and like that GFWL links up what I do on my PC with what I do on my 360.

      Aside from the fact that the interface is a bit slow, I completely don’t see what harm GFWL does, and how that perceived harm can possibly be worth being so assuredly negative about. But I’d love to be enlightened on the subject – that just doesn’t seem to be part of the agenda, like it’s already been established that GFWL is unforgivably, inexcusably bad and I just missed the meeting.

    • Medina says:

      But does GFWL have hats?

      Steam can tie tf2 hats to achievements, and there are tons of suckers who will buy a game just for that. Can GFWL beat that? I doubt the marketplace for gfwl avatars (if there is one) is quite as popular.

      I think we are going to see more and more steam games with tf2 hats tied to them now that we have seen how much people are willing to pay for them.

    • Bill says:

      One assumes that a roughly similar schema applies for Avatar rewards, but no, haven’t seen any figures. *Or* since sarcasm is the theme of the day, you’re mocking my achievement fetish – in which case, touché, sir

    • subedii says:

      Who gives a flying crap about GFWL achievements?

      It’s always really bizarre to me when people say “well these arbitrary goals that you can achieve are completely pointless compared to those arbitrary goals you can achieve but that also have an additional arbitrary point value attached to them.”

      And no, the issue isn’t just that the interface is merely clunky and slow, there’s a pretty large spectrum of very valid issues that GFWL has. If you want a rundown of the problems facing GFWL as it’s currently implemented, I had a post previously that can give you a rough guide of how MS have messed it up.

      link to

      And that’s not even all of the issues GFWL has. A few posters after that add in additional points. And then there’s also issues like multiplayer region restrictions, hard-coded install limits, no community group systems. And in particular, MS’s unfortunate but fundamental internal conflict of interest between project teams which ultimately means that they need to emphasise the 360 games market over the PC games market. Which leads to things like Alan Wake suddenly becoming a 360 exclusive despite originally being a poster boy for DX10, or deliberately canning projects to increase cross-platform compatibility because it “reflects poorly” on the 360 if KBAM players can consistently outperform players on a gamepad, or timed exclusives on DLC and game releases in general…

      Really, the list goes on and on. There’s plenty I’m willing to put up with when it comes to PC Gaming, it’s less intuitive than gaming on a console by its very nature. However, that doesn’t mean I have to accept just how badly MS have dropped the ball with GFWL on almost every level I can possibly think of. Each time they admit to this and “re-affirm” their commitment to the platform (which they have now literally done 3-4 times since GFWL launched) , it only results in half-hearted measures that nobody’s really looking for, followed by them ignoring it all over again.

      Even if they are somehow some HUGELY important factor to you, Gamerpoints are not something that will redress all these problems.

    • Bill says:

      So I’m seeing:

      *slower patch process – this comes down to opinion. Personally, I’d rather wait a couple of months while developers tested the game than pay for a half-finished product and then wait for patches, so generally this isn’t something I’m getting too het up about – patching is a *far* bigger issue that transcends the constraints that GFWL, Steam or anything else puts upon it

      *no external client – hm, arguably your whole system kinda is from M$’s p.o.v – your windows live ID can be used with Messenger etc, it doesn’t exist in a gaming bubble but rather transcends activities to encompass your general PC usage. If there was a “yay MSN GFWL gamer edition”, I wouldn’t use it – I can keep track of people through MSN. Xfire, on the other hand, *needs* to be useable outside of the games I use it with. I mean, I can see how this could be a desirable feature, but it hardly strikes me as a dealbreaker.

      *backward in regards to push-to-talk and general chat – I can relate to this. Definitely the kind of thing that could be improved.

      *you don’t like microsoft’s currency thing – that’s fair enough, but again, hardly strikes me as a dealbreaker. Pretty sure that decision is financially motivated, and given that Steam now offer pre-pay wallet services, it’s getting harder to criticize (although I still think it’s pretty nuts).

      In the meantime, while we’re making an effort to objectively assess the different achievement systems out there – well, I am, anyway, you’d sooner just dismiss them all as pointless – a system which transcends platforms is *far* more attractive to my sensibilities, as I can share it with more disparate groups of friends than a system which does not. I wasn’t just throwing it out there – shared cheeves between PC and Xbox is pretty neat for me.

      I’d assumed there was some kind of real performance-related hardware problem at the root of why GFWL = bad was such a given, but I’m not seeing a ton of evidence in that vein – just critique of the design behind GFWL.

    • subedii says:

      I’m half debating whether I should even bother discussing this with someone that’s clearly drunk. Ah well, maybe this will make more sense to you when you’re not. Or you’ll still disregard it, who knows.

      Patching delays due to MS Certification don’t improve the quality of the patch, they are an inherent detriment, and I’ve already gone through why, you’re simply ignoring that. This isn’t an issue of “subjectivity”. The patch doesn’t get tested any further once it’s been submitted to MS for certification. If you play any RTS (or frankly, any complex game) online, then you understand why bulk all-in-one balance patches are a bad idea, and why most companies that can, strive for incremental updates. Saying that taking more time here is better doesn’t make any sense because once the patch is in certification, there’s no other updating you can do until it goes live and you can see the effects of it in action. All of this whilst the developer has to pay Microsoft for every update, patch, or hotfix. MS’s attitude towards game updates is, frankly, outdated.

      With regards to an external client, this again, isn’t something that’s optional for a community system, it’s mandatory. XBL’s community is just as accessible from the dashboard as it is from in-game. That was one of MS’s key triumphs with that system. It’s also something that the GFWL community has been asking for since day 1, and which MS have very much ignored. If a community system is to exist, then it must be accessible from outside the game, there’s no ifs or buts about it, and certainly no excuse for why it hasn’t already happened. Otherwise the system is fundamentally hamstrung and to a large extent, unusable. You cannot say that X-Fire should be an external client but that GFWL shouldn’t in the same breath, GFWL is built to be a community system. And this is all before you get to how badly implemented the system itself is. No chat system (seriously? Using e-mails is preferable here?). Broken voice chat. Broken matchmaking. No community groups. What services that aren’t mandatory towards it, are certainly still important to maintaining a community system.

      You talk about a system that “transcends” the platform, but that’s precisely the point, it doesn’t, it’s a heavily XBL focussed system that they tried to port wholesale onto the PC without thought, and it doesn’t work. You cannot be online with the PC if the 360 is already logged in, it kicks you off of one. MS has made no attempt to make these systems work cohesively together when they logically should. At the same time, they’ve very deliberately side-lined cross-platform play (something that would truly transcend platform boundaries, and even give them a massive edge over Sony) because of how it reflects poorly on the 360.

      Any other issues that were raised you pretty much ignored. I don’t see how addressing these issues to do with the fundamental design of GFWL somehow makes them irrelevant. The core design of the system is what’s most important, and like I said, they’ve largely botched it.

      The issue with GFWL isn’t its freaking slow performance, it’s that it is a bad community system, it has a terrible multiplayer architecture, and its implementation is completely unintuitive because of the fact that it was ported over directly without thought for the platform it was being ported to. These are not minor issues for what is ostensibly a a community and multiplayer based system.

      Your saying that you simply don’t care about THOSE problems is besides the point. GFWL is poorly designed for what it was supposed to achieve, badly implemented after that, and even manages to do so whilst costing more for devs to use. This is why people have issue with GFWL. And it is also why devs have largely been abandoning GFWL in favour or either their own proprietary systems, or third party solutions like Gamespy and Steamworks.

    • Bill says:

      I didn’t disregard your ideas – I had a good read and gave my feedback. I even conceded a couple of points. What you’ve proceeded to do is take a few of the words I used and make them fit other ideas somewhat divorced from what I was trying to say. I don’t think at any point, for example, I suggested that delaying patches “improved” the patching process – my statement was that patching on the whole is a *big* issue that goes far beyond a complaint like that, so making said complaint strikes me as a bit redundant. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. You’re right though, I’m fairly drunk!

    • subedii says:

      Not really. This is what you posted that I was taking issue with:

      *slower patch process – this comes down to opinion. Personally, I’d rather wait a couple of months while developers tested the game than pay for a half-finished product and then wait for patches, so generally this isn’t something I’m getting too het up about

      I mean you’re essentially saying here that the issue of patching is to do with incomplete products and that delaying things a couple of months makes it better somehow. Delaying the patch doesn’t make things better, and with multiplayer games, neither does delaying the game itself, you can only really test multiplayer balance and issues in the wild. Even Blizzard, with all their resources devoted to balance and polish, acknowledge this, it’s a core part of their design philosophy and product support. The amount of time and effort Blizzard devoted to the pre-release balance of Starcraft 2 was insane, it was a process that took years in itself and it still did not achieve balance, or even isolate and remove all the bugs.

      And this is also before you get to the issue of things like gameplay additions. Because Relic have actually been really good about supporting DoW2 in spite of this. New units, new maps, even a new game mode. But again, even to add something to the game like that requires MS Certification.

      This isn’t something that just affects PC Games using Live either, it’s a critical problem with XBL as well. Heck, Penny Arcade even had a post on it just a few days ago:

      link to

      If you have ever been curious why Valve would insist on their own update and delivery system for consoles, very publicly maneuvering into the Sony camp, you don’t have to look much further than the story of Uber Entertainment.

      If you have played Monday Night Combat, you know that it’s not just good, but genuinely important. It breeds an emerging genre and a familiar one with such deftness that you can make a lateral move from almost any action skillset. Because games of MNC take place on the Internet, and because they are played with people, it didn’t take long for vile leprechauns to find ways to mar the experience for others. That’s why Uber Entertainment took pains to fix those problems, checked in an update for certification, and then waited.

      For a fucking month.

      For multiplayer games, this is a big problem.

    • Bill says:

      I don’t believe that multiplayer balance or even server load and things of that nature can “only be tested in the wild”. Certainly testing these issues “in the wild” is very effective – but that’s what betas are for. My issue is really more with the games that genuinely are released too soon, and thus require patching simply to perform properly – it’s in this manner that I consider the general question of patching to be bigger than GFWL — patching’s tough to swallow however you take it. There’s a whole spectrum of situations there, rather than just those that fit your argument the best. Anyway, if I buy a retail product I don’t want to be signing on to QA that product. We shouldn’t accept that sort of thing.

      You’re also factoring in free updates and the like at this stage, however, which is a bit of a goal-post-move, but acceptable – having to submit content patches to a third party for approval before distribution is pretty suck, and content patches are a desirable thing, so waiting for a desirable thing = legitimate grievance. No worries there.

    • RakeShark says:

      Just to add a grain of salt to the argument.

      One of the big issues people are citing with the GFWL system is the Microsoft Certification that patches and updates must go through in order to take effect.

      The reason why this system isn’t loved by developers and gamers is that Microsoft Certification isn’t a seal of quality. Take for example the Fallout 3 DLCs. Those DLCs had to pass the Certification process, and even then the DLC package “The Pitt” had massive compatibility issues and obvious bugs when first released. The Certification process did not screen or test for these issues that came up, and it turned into a headache for the next few days as Bethesda re-patched and waited for the Certification process to green-light the fix for the broken DLC. This was not the first issue with the process, and it certainly won’t be the last.

      The Microsoft Certification process seems to be nothing more than a glorified bingo tumbler that serves only to delay content and patches between the developer and the customer.

      And that is why many people don’t like GFWL being the service of choice for their favorite/anticipated games.

    • Kevin says:

      Us DoWII multiplayer players are hit especially hard by GFWL. While Blizzard and Valve have the luxury of using their respective proprietary launchers to update their games in baby steps, which allows some semblance of balance in their games, Relic has to do things in humongous updates to make the process worthwhile given the length of time between patches due to Microsoft certification. This leads to a situation where Ork Shootaz have supernatural accuracy while MOVING, Apothecaries turning a reactionary unit (Assault Space Marines) into a near invincible, counter-to-everything, rolling ball of death, and leaving many pieces of wargear for commanders being completely broken or rendered completely uselss.

    • Lars Westergren says:


      My first experiences with GFWL – I bought Gears of War cheaply for the PC, something like $8, it had been out for a year or two. I think it took me several hours of bad frustration before I could start playing. I was downloading patch after GFWL patch, only to find that the last was buggy (it was on the official forums) so I had to uninstall it and download everything from the start again, downloading Windows patches, which hadn’t shown up through the Windows updater, trying to register a LIVE account only to be constantly redirected to XBox help pages, being nagged to create Hotmail address…. it just went on and on.

      Then when I started to play, I found that unlike the normal save process I was used to as a PC gamer, it autosaved at checkpoints for me…. unless my internet connection was down, in which case it failed to do so silently, and I had to replay long sections the next day when I restarted the game.

      Nevertheless the game was fun enough for me to keep playing, and when I was somewhere 2/3rds through the single player campaign, it managed to corrupt my only allowed online save file. Yep, either Microsoft or Epic had failed to make the online saving transactional. So I would have to start over from the beginning.

      Ok, having technical problems in the beginning is one thing, but this went on for years, which finally made me suspect what John Smith said above, that it was designed to make the PC gaming experience look very similar to, and whenever possible slightly worse, compared to the XBox. This in order to make people switch to the XBox. Look at the Fallout DLC experience for most people:

      link to

      link to

      link to

    • subedii says:

      Grief, I actually lost count of the number of times that I had to restart Gears of War PC because the savegames had been eaten.

  41. Bill says:

    And yep, I realise how dumb referring to a software problem as a hardware problem makes me look. I’m blaming it on a hefty booze intake and late hour, but all the same I apologize!

  42. Geralt says:

    I haven’t had any problems with either Steam or GFWL. So I’m okay with either one they choose (or both). I’m also glad that THQ is trying to bring as many games on PC as possible. Props to them.

  43. Warduke says:

    Why do I get the feeling Bilson’s “good news” will turn out to be a half-empty promise designed to distract people from the bad news.

  44. Satchel_charge says:

    Dude didn’t know what he was talking about?

  45. drewski says:

    As a pretty much exclusive single player gamer, I couldn’t care less what annoying, system hogging DRM THQ package with their titles. Unless it’s disc based, which is awesome. The other day I was playing an old game, and I just put the CD in the drive, installed it, clicked the icon and it ran! I didn’t have to register a CD key, download a massive update with half the game files or run some bloated client or anything!

    Ahhh. Things were awesome in the olden days.

    • 7rigger says:

      Yeah, but games were crap in the olden days.

      (I’m joking, please don’t burn me!)

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      And then when it crashed during play or you got stuck against bugs you spent a couple of hours hunting down the patches required & manually updating your game with them.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      As long as the DRM still recognizes your slightly-scratched disc as legit. And as long as you don’t mind swapping discs around for each and every game.

  46. Dreamhacker says:

    I’m not a conspiracy theory nut, BUT:

    Goddamn it, GFWL is really starting to look like Microsoft’s plan to destroy PC Gaming for within for the benefit of the Xbox 360.

    Either that, or Microsofts game division is just extremely ignorant and incapable. Either theory works :(

    • Harlander says:

      I’m really coming to suspect that Microsoft are deliberately trying to appear as cartoonishly, moustache-twiddlingly evil as possible.

      GfWL’s horrors, screwing about with software patents, and the worst thing in my mind: having their research arm develop fascinating new shinies and then refusing to allow them to ever be marketed.

      They’re like the Dick Dastardly of companies; if they didn’t stop every five minutes to set a convoluted Heath Robinson-esque trap, they could win.

  47. markcocjin says:

    And just when I was starting to like the guy:

    link to

    He turns out to be ignorant of how almost all PC gamers feel about GFWTFL

    • Lars Westergren says:


      He probably does know (note the “I *want* to respect them”), he is just being prudent. Publicly criticizing a company you are negotiating with, especially one as powerful and historically vengeful as Microsoft, is not good business.

  48. Eoghan says:

    I used to play DOW2 regularly and never really minded the presence of GFWL, at least the matchmaking worked well.

    That was, of course, until I cancelled my GOLD Xbox live membership and Microsoft decided that I shouldn’t be allowed play my PC games online either.

    Sure, it was just a case of creating a new Windows Live account but it’s never pleasant to be told you can’t play your own games. I also lost my ranking and any friends I had added so never really got back into the game. Haven’t played it since.

    Just a badly designed, lazily implemented service which unfortunately has no real competition at the moment. Hopefully that will change soon.

  49. TheApologist says:

    My advice to THQ would be ‘Get your money from PC gamers, not microsoft.’

    And that means using steam works, which not only works but is actively good.

    GFWL on the other hand has never once been smooth. It isn’t enough to stop me buying a game of the year that I really want to play, but it is enough to put me off most of the games I purchase. Most recently it stopped Dead Rising 2 working until I fiddled for an hour and got it working. Not nearly good enough, and has not ever been nearly good enough.

  50. The Sombrero Kid says:

    if gfwl fixed it’s savegame system that’d bring it out of boycott land for me. unfortunately i don’t see any hope for it getting any higher than hateful tolerance in my estimations.