Purified: Dawns Of War Ditching GameSpy And GFWL

If I were an hilarious satirist I'd label the Dreadnought as 'GFWL' or something. That'd be wild.

In the future of Warhammer 40,000, humanity cling desperately to faltering technology they no longer understands, knowing once crucial systems break they can’t repair them and everyone will be doomed. Learning a lesson from all this, Relic is stripping out wonky old multiplayer tech from its WH40K: Dawn of War games, replacing GameSpy and Games for Windows – Live with warming Steam. And now I’m suffering frightful visions of a steampunk 40K spin-off. Brr. Chilling.

The first Dawn of War and its expansions use GameSpy’s services for multiplayer matchmaking, so without intervention that’d become unplayable online when Glu Mobile turns off the GameSpy servers on May 31. Last week Relic patched DoW to swap out GameSpy for Steamworks, going over to the same multiplayer backend as Company of Heroes 2, though it may be a bit wonky for now. Dawn of War design lead Philippe Boulle explains:

In the short term, there are likely to be some technical issues with the new setup. Recreating the multiplayer infrastructure for seven titles is no small feat, and there will be bugs. Ultimately, we felt that it would be better to get the update out in a slightly imperfect state in time to prevent an outright interruption in multiplayer play. So, bugs.

Relic are also cutting Games for Windows – Live out from Dawn of War II and its first expansion, Chaos Rising. They have always used Steamworks but mostly for DRM, relying on GFWL for matchmaking and achievements and all that. Now Relic are working on replacing that with Steam. (The expandalone DoW 2 – Retribution and its multiplayer spin-off The Last Standalone were always Steam through and through.)

Boulle’s story is that Relic simply “intend to take this opportunity to migrate them over to Steam in order for a consistent multiplayer experience across the entire portfolio.” GFWL is horrible, granted, but honestly, what is going on with it?

Relic join an ever-growing lineup of developers who just happen to casually be removing GFWL from their games, no real reason, they just felt like it. Reports did say that GFWL was shutting down in July, but Microsoft pulled that statement and have since avoided giving proper answers about what is happening to it. Something’s afoot. Oh well. Whatever’s going on, DoW 2 will soon be free from GFWL, which is great.


  1. Syra says:

    Gorramit my heart leapt for joy at mention of dawn of war, hoping for the threequel. Alas no one plays the versions with GFWL anymore as we all migrated to retribution which was steam only, long ago.

    • Keyrock says:


      Also, Retribution is superior anyway due to the fact that you can play the campaign as Orks, and Orks are so much more fun to play than Space Marines.


      • bleeters says:

        “You shoulda had more o’ ya skinny boyz dis mornin’ if you were goin’ ta shoot down MY Krooza! Now look at ya! Why I’m gonna… I’m gonna…”
        “Uhm… Kap’n?”
        “Not now, Mistah Nailbrain. I’m still sassin’ dis stomped up Eldar”

        • rusty5pork says:

          Aaaand now I’m reinstalling this game.

          • Keyrock says:

            Remember, if you get into a spot of trouble, the solution is always more dakka.

      • Axyl says:

        Yeah, but the campaign of Retri was far weaker than Chaos Rising, or even Vanilla.

        The 1st two parts played far more like an Action RPG.

        • bleeters says:

          I did enjoy Retribution, but I would say Chaos Rising was a lot more interesting gameplay wise. Retribution just… lacked challenge, largely due to your heroes becoming immortal demigods who swatted aside any who had the folly of geting in their way after a couple of levels, and because standard units refunded the cost of their original purchase as soon as they died, meaning you could churn out infinite infantry and eventually overwhelm your opponents through attrition.

          I mean, the former is basically what Space Marines are and the latter tends to be how the Imperial Guard do things, but it didn’t really make for compelling gameplay.

    • SillyWizard says:

      Indeed, GFWL convinced me to stop playing DoW2 shortly after it was released. The digital-hoarder in me kept buying the various expansions as I came across them during sales, though.

      Pretty excited to reinstall once the dust settles and see what I’ve been missing!

  2. spacedyemeerkat says:

    Hmm… hope my Dawn of War II save will be compatible. Still working my way through it (usually in a drunken Saturday night “what to do now?”-fashion.)

    • frightlever says:

      Hah! That’s how I’ve been playing it for the last several months, one mission at a time.

      • spacedyemeerkat says:

        Yup, same. One mission at a time… hehe! Been quite enjoying it, actually, although I hit a mission a couple of weeks ago where I got my bottom royally kicked. Still don’t understand some of the game’s mechanics but that’s drunken gaming for you!

        Re the post below, sage advice – thanks.

    • slerbal says:

      I’d recommend you set your steam copy to not auto-update as I am fairly certain your save game won’t be carried over – i think it is essentially unavoidable due to how gfwl worked :(

  3. Premium User Badge

    james.hancox says:

    Steampunk 40k? I think that’s just called “Orks”.

  4. RaveTurned says:

    I have boxed copies of DoW and Winter Assault. CD keys for these are not currently recognised by Steam. Any word on whether this will change, or if people with non-Steam versions of these games will get Steam keys so they can still play online?

    • BlueTemplar says:

      Yes, I wonder about that too…
      I recently answered to people commenting on Steam forums asking for Steam matchmaking servers to be added to the game (Sword of the Stars 1) after Gamespy servers were cut off two years ago that this couldn’t be done because it would leave the vast majority of players that didn’t get the game via Steam in the cold.

      But it would seem that Relic plans to give Steam keys to every people that bought the game :
      link to forums.relicnews.com

      Also, I hope that removing LAN/TCP-IP while adding Steam matchmaking in DoW1 is only temporary. Otherwise I’m not going to buy a Relic game ever again.

      • vecordae says:

        Kerberos does not want to spend money fixing SotS. They never got around to really fixing SotS2, so that’s hardly surprising.

        I’m sorry that you’re going to be consigned by monstrous forces outside of your control to boycotting all of Relic’s games forever, however. The plan is to use the same back-end and systems that drive Company of Heroes 2 at the moment. CoH2 doesn’t use direct p2p connections anymore and, instead, relies on something called a “battle server”.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          Paradox is the publisher. They’re the ones giving the money – they’re the ones to blame for not wanting to support SotS1 and 2 anymore.

  5. Gilead says:

    Relic actually updated the Steam pages for Dawn of War 2/Chaos Rising a few days ago to add a note mentioning that they were being migrated over to Steamworks. I was so pleased when I saw that message; although Retribution’s fine, I actually prefer the campaign of the original Dawn of War 2, and skipped Chaos Rising entirely because I couldn’t be bothered to mess around with GFWL.

    • subedii says:

      I felt that Chaos Rising was actually the best campaign out of the three.

    • Lemming says:

      I agree, I actually much prefer DoW2+Chaos Rising’s campaign. Sure, with Retribution you get to play a multitude of perspectives/races, but the story is a lot more gripping for the first two.

  6. Joodri says:

    I really hope Double fine will do the same with Iron Brigade soon, GFWL causes some gamebreaking bugs online

    • Philomelle says:

      Unfortunately, Double Fine can’t even touch Iron Brigade. EA took the IP away and hiss like a pack of angry vipers every time DF approach them about it.

      They even made fun of it in their Kickstarter pitch video for Massive Chalice.

      • RedViv says:

        That’s BrĂ¼tal Legend. Which seems to have worked out in the end, with EA mentioned nowhere the game is sold for the PC.
        Iron Brigade was published by Microsoft, and DF apparently need permission from them to work on Steamworks integration.

        • Philomelle says:

          Thanks for the correction, didn’t realize it was Microsoft and not EA in Iron Brigade’s case.

          The point still stands, though. Double Fine don’t have the rights to the Iron Brigade IP at all and so cannot work on it unless the publisher contracts them to do so. And if the publisher is Microsoft, we’re screwed. There is no way they would ever agree to removing their DRM in favor of someone else’s DRM on their own property, even if that DRM affects how multiplayer functions.

          • Optimaximal says:

            That’s not entirely true – They published Mark of the Ninja as a Steamworks title.

            I think they understand the general community feeling about GFW:Live, but don’t want to pay any money to fix old games, nor do they want to give up IP, which seems to be what Double Fine want (their MO seems to be ‘get the IP under our roof’).

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Brutal Legend is in a really weird place because iirc Activision still held some control of the IP as well as EA (it started development under Activision then was cancelled and revived by EA.)

    • MeestaNob says:

      It’s not their property, so it’s not up to them, however they have said “watch this space” as they try to put together a solution.

    • Zorn says:

      I have inquired about the future of Iron Brigade with the Microsoft support, in the answer I was told that are no information available at the moment regarding Iron Brigade. Although the support confirmed Games For Windows Live ending the 1st of July. I did also send an inquiry to Double Fine, but have not heard back to this point.

  7. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    While I don’t think anyone gives two shits about the multiplayer for these given that Retribution has been out for quite a while now, it’s great to know that the single player campaigns will run no risk of being lost anytime soon.

    If you like games like Torchlight and games like Dragon Age, the Dawn of War II campaigns sit somewhere in between and are tremendous fun. I’d also argue that Chaos Rising has the single best morality system of any game I’ve ever played.

    • ChampionHyena says:

      Let’s also bear in mind that even though no one’s playing Dawn of War II or Chaos Rising for competitive multiplayer, the campaigns are riotously fun in co-op. This was the big part of it that I was worried about preserving; I have friends who would be really into playing Dawn of War II’s campaign with me but haven’t had a beefy enough machine to run it properly until recently.

    • slerbal says:

      I love the campaigns in co-op with a mate – in fact I’m about to start a new go with a friend as soon as the game is migrated to steam.

      He is a good friend, so he can play the Assault Marines. WHOOOOSH! BANG! :D

  8. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Can’t they just purge all these things and remove multiplayer so I can crawl back into my 1900s cave with all the games on a DVD or two and no external threads?

    • vecordae says:

      Don’t fall for the lie that you are a part of the system. No amount of multiplayer shenanigans can keep you from the sweet, sweet comfort of your homely gaming cavern or your DVDs loaded with a dozen or more years of PC gaming’s very history.

  9. BarryAllen says:

    You guys missed out that they have removed LAN and Direct Host from the original Dawn of Wars, for no reason at all.

    • Vinraith says:

      This is by far the bigger news, but no one is paying it any mind. Direct IP is literally the most important feature of any multiplayer game, precisely because it’s the only thing that survives service shutdowns like this. To remove it is unforgivable.

      • LionsPhil says:

        How utterly bizzare.

        Thankfully my old-fashioned CD copy won’t care one bit. Unfortunately, being an old-fashioned CD copy, it also likes to install various horrible little hidden drivers and such thorny system tendrils.

      • BarryAllen says:

        Yeah none of the gaming sites reporting the update have bothered to mention it

      • Lemming says:

        Give it a chance, they’ve only just started making the changes.

      • vecordae says:

        It is unforgivable to drop literally the worst possible way to play an online RTS over the internet in favor of approaches that help alleviate chronic lag.

        Shame on them. Shame on them until they die.

  10. Darth Gangrel says:

    I hope the bugs aren’t as large and terrifying as Tyranids.

  11. satan says:

    Fantastic news, love me some DoW2 campaign co-op.

  12. drewski says:

    I wonder how much time I’ve got to get the GfWL achievements for Chaos Rising before they migrate it…

  13. goon buggy says:

    DOW 2 is crap anyway. A failed multi unit moba.
    Now who would like a graphically enhanced version of DOW

  14. siliciferous says:

    PRAISE THE EMPEROR / DEATH TO THE CORPSE GOD / HAIL SLAANESH / FOR THE CRAFTWORLD / GLORY TO THE IMPERIUM / something something gork and mork or whatever / [stomach growls]

  15. sinbad269 says:

    The game only game I truly want freed of GFWL shackles is GTA 4. Don’t see that happening though as R* are douchebags and don’t like the PC platform for some reason.

    • The Random One says:

      The only game I want freed is FUEL. I’ll be in the corner, crying.

      • deadfolk says:

        Both of these for me, and I’d like to add Dead Rising 2: Off The Record

  16. The Random One says:

    In the grim gaslight of the alternate near past, there is only gears.

  17. Choca says:

    Those games have aged gracefully.

  18. Radiant says:

    There is a mission where I have to save some scouts that always ends with the scouts dying horrifically.


  19. Continuity says:

    Thanks god for this, GFWL has been an unnecessary thorn in my side for years, the more games it removed from the better.

  20. kud13 says:

    if we’re talking about a list of developers gutting GaFWL, don’t forget that Rocksteady removed it from the first 2 Arkham games as well.

    • Lemming says:

      and Insanely Twisted Shadow Planet, which is a Microsoft Studios published game.

  21. wodin says:

    Is DOW 2 a clickfest? Or is it low unit count and easily managed?

    • Lemming says:

      The second one. It’s not a straight RTS like DOW, its an Action/RTS hybrid. You control a small squad of characters that you can kit out for each mission.

  22. MellowKrogoth says:

    Hurray… for now. Why can’t they implement some kind of open multiplayer protocol whereby the community can gradually migrate to player-run servers, and put back LAN capabilities for those old games? Steam might be there for a long while but it too will eventually shut down after a drastic market change such as the rise of a better competitor or something more radical, and I bet its multiplayer protocols are much harder to emulate than the defunct Gamespy’s.

  23. MellowKrogoth says:

    And now you made me imagine tech priests protecting the Holy Patterns of GFWL and Steamworks, arcane systems whose analysis is strictly heretical, but that are necessary to run the Emperor’s (Glory Be To His Name, May He Always Protect Us From the Void etc) Entertainment Systems for the benefit of the masses. The future is grim and dark indeed.

  24. lordfrikk says:

    Microsoft shutting down yet another of their services and they’ve still got the nerve to not announce it officially even though all the developers are jumping the sinking ship.