FNG Logo created by Nick Serr

03 October 2013

Will a Games for Windows Live shut down take its toll?

I'm a little behind on this news, but Microsoft announced in August that, in process of them switching everything to Xbox branding, they will be closing the Games for Windows Marketplace. At the time of that announcement, they said Games for Windows Live would continue to function. However, also in August, they briefly displayed a support message on the Age of Empires Online page:

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.

Now, I hadn't heard anything about GFWL shutting down until today, when a friend pointed me to this Kotaku article about Bioshock 2 being updated by Digital Extremes (who originally handled the multiplayer aspect of the game) which, in addition to other changes, removed GFWL from the game. A player's Bioshock 2 GFWL key can also now be activated in Steam, and all players now own the DLC, including the single player expansion, Minerva's Den.

So, it's great to see a developer taking the time to update a slightly older game to remove the dying GFWL, while also adding better support for controllers, and giving all players more content. However, that brought to mind other games which also use Games for Windows Live. What will happen to those games if/when GFWL does shut down?

As noted on ghacks.net, developers who do not update their games may be locking users out of minor features (leaderboards, achievements, matchmaking, etc.) or, in the case of games that use GFWL to manage save games, the players will be locked out of their saved games. Other games, like Fallout 3, would lock players out of any paid DLC, as it uses GFWL for authentification. With Fallout 3, modders have taken steps to bypass GFWL because of the issues players were having with it.

I hope that more developers will take the effort to update games when the authentification servers/services are going offline. I hope they will update games to not use GFWL, especially in the case that Microsoft does terminate its service July 1, 2014. Fortunately, if the data from PCGamingWiki is accurate, some developers are listening.

One last note (personal wish), I REALLY hope that if Steam ever does shut down, they find some way to make our games accessible. I've heard many claim that Valve has promised that would happen, but I've never seen an official source.

1 comment:

That One Guy said...

Thanks for the update "D"!
Another testament to why DRM bites and really makes digital distribution in general questionable.

I worry about Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes purchases too. What if those services ever go down? Thankfully Amazon Instant Video lets you download physical copies but they're DRMed too... Will that be lifted if they ever discontinue that service?

What about movies they lose license too later... I've seen myself lose videos that way because they're no longer available.

So much time/money/resources are wasted with this crap. They'd be much more profitable if they'd bypass all that, since they don't stop the pirates anyway, make it a nice experience for the paying customers! And let us own our right to the media in question.

I love that I can still play some of my old games that didn't have ridiculous network/service required DRM to be able to play.

I hear talk all the time of companies reserving the right to remove the DRM later, but I rarely see it happen. A great example would be Need for Speed Underground. EA took the servers down that were required to play, so one can only play that multiplayer now if they use a hacked (and illegal according to terms of agreement) server.

Another reason to love GOG.com