Ahem. Sorry. Let me briefly activate my brain's cyborganic professionalism implant. Bleep bloop. OK then. So the news that Microsoft's much-reviled game service/malignancy Games For Windows Live is well and truly finished isn't actually all that surprising. It's much appreciated - don't get me wrong - but the writing was already on the wall, given that Games For Windows Marketplace's days are already very, very numbered. Unfortunately, GFWL's impending date with the young but exceedingly prolific Server Reaper presents a few game-unfriendly complications.
The announcement first popped up on Age of Empires Online's support page, but it's since been removed.
"Games for Windows Live will be discontinued on July 1, 2014. Although it is available through Steam, Age of Empires Online requires features of the Games for Windows Live service. You can continue to enjoy all the features of Age of Empires Online as the service will remain 100% operational until July 1, 2014 when the server will shut down."
Microsoft still hasn't responded to requests for comment.
Assuming it's sticking with those terms, however, that leaves titles previously tethered to GFWL's hissing tendrils in a tight spot. Games like Bulletstorm, Dark Souls, Resident Evil 5 (which is abysmal without co-op), Street Fighter X Tekken, Iron Brigade, and Dirt 3 may well lose significant chunks of their functionality unless something changes between now and July.
Granted, that could be the reason Microsoft has start fitting the ill-fated service for its noose so far in advance. Now, one would think, developers and publishers will have time to find alternative solutions for multiplayer, leaderboards, social features, etc. We can only hope.
Guess it's curtains for Age of Empires Online, though. Apologies to the five people still playing it. (And also apologies for that flippant faux-apology.)
But, despite all that, I must once again return to an ages-old refrain: HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOORAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY.