Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Will you have to

Woot Dark Souls on PC confirmed, ah crap if is going to ship with Games for Windows Live. Now I am not going to moan about the actual GFWL service, we all know that it is unreliable, awkward to use and locks out people from a lot of countries. In the example of Dark Souls, I understand that they are porting over the Xbox version and dropping GFWL in is probably the easiest option. Though interestingly Namco Bandai seem to be at least listening to it’s customers, and is considering what it can do about the online features to avoid GFWL. So if Namco Bandai are willing to consider people's criticisms of Games for Windows Live, why do Microsoft continue to ignore the constant moaning from people on forums, blogs, gaming sites, twitter (and pretty much any other form of communication you can think of).  

Here is a theory, the reason that, seemingly, the service hasn’t been updated since launch, despite gamers obvious complaints, is that Microsoft want people to hate PC gaming. What? you may cry, why would one of the biggest software developers in the world want you to not enjoy your games on your Windows PC. Simply put, they would rather that you go and buy the Xbox version. Taking Dark Souls for example, when it is released on the PC in August I will buy it (probably regardless of what happens with the online service), and Microsoft will not get a penny of that money. However if I buy a (new) version of Dark Souls for the Xbox, Microsoft pocket a couple of pounds.

So whether the neglect with regards to GFWL is a deliberate effort to force people into the arms of consoles, or simply that they put no money aside to work on maintenance and development because the bean counters say it is a waste of money. Personally I like to imagine the entire GFWL staff is one old man with a broom who sweeps up because he knows nothing about computers. Humm I wouldn’t be surprised if Microsoft wouldn’t like to pull the plug on the service entirely, but there are a few too many high profile games that use it, like the Fallout Series and the Batman games. I have actually just finished Arkham City with minimal GFWL problems (the initial patching phase crashed a couple of times), however this is a game that doesn’t have a strong online features.

Perhaps I am being a little hard on Microsoft, they have introduced a couple of free to play games recently, Age of Empires Online and Flight, both of which use Games for Windows Live. Though this seems odd, surely with any free to play title, it is important to get people playing and having fun as quickly as possible, struggling with GFWL on a game I have paid for is one thing, a free game I simply wouldn’t bother. Ah maybe I just hate Microsoft, but their entire game marketing strategy seems to be, if it doesn’t provide a provable revenue stream, then it is not worth doing for any other reasons.

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