The Steam client may have some added competition come November as Microsoft's plans to increase their Web store in Games for Windows. Currently Games for Windows utilizes a client that resembles Windows Live Messenger, but with Xbox Live support. On November 15 Games for Windows will be going to the clouds with an all online Web store that allows you to download games directly from their website.
Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director, PC and Mobile Gaming, at Microsoft said the following:
“With Games for Windows Marketplace, we set out to create a digital store built for PC gamers end-to-end,” ... “And by integrating with our existing Xbox LIVE and Windows Live services, we’ve made it easier than ever for millions of gamers to see for themselves how easy buying PC games can be.”
Much like how Xbox Live runs weekly deals, Games for Windows will have regular sales on a weekly and seasonal basis. Another beneficial feature will be the ability to search for a game by title, which those of you who are regulars to the Xbox Live download process know is not fun. Frankly I bypass the Xbox Live download platform and just use the Xbox Live site to download stuff to my system.
The store will be launched with 100 of the biggest games available to the Microsoft platform. According to the release,
"... the launch roster includes blockbuster games such as Fable: The Lost Chapters (Microsoft Game Studios) and Grand Theft Auto III (Rockstar Games Inc.) from some of the industry’s biggest developers, such as Capcom Entertainment Inc., 2K Games, Square Enix Co. Ltd. and more."
With games like Gears of War, Halo and Fable III being released on the Games for Windows, it could potentially oust Steam for hardcore Microsoft fans. This may also be a sign that Microsoft is trying to bring back the era of PC gaming, and begin porting large names like recent Halo titles.
One of the biggest differences between the current store in place and the proposed release will be the inclusion of indie games. Previously only Xbox Live users had the ability to access games created by indie developers.
Christian Svensson, Corporate Officer and Vice President of Strategic Planning and Business Development at Capcom had this to say:
“We plan to deliver some of our biggest and best PC franchises on Games for Windows Marketplace from day one,”... “Digital distribution continues to drive growth in PC gaming, and we’re excited to partner with Microsoft and bring amazing games to this growing marketplace.”
Back in March we reported that Windows Phone 7 will allow gamers to play the same game over mobile, Web and console systems in the future. Provided that there are no major issues with the Web based store, this shows that Microsoft is really making an attempt to increase accessibility to their games. Obviously you won't be playing Fable III on the current smartphone line up, but some smaller games will work on all three platforms.
While the press release mentions that access to the Web store is simplified as you only need a Windows Live, Xbox Live, Games for Windows or Zune id, it didn't mention added support to play games between console, PC or mobile devices. Currently there are only a few games -- Shadowrun being one of them -- that allow you to play games on your console with those on their PC. Xbox Live users will also be able to use MS points or credit card purchases in the Games for Windows store.
As more applications are being hosted in the cloud, do you think clients like Steam will phase out or have to follow suit? Does the added ability to continue to earn achievements on one platform increase your chances of using Games for Windows?
Games for Windows will relaunch as a Web based store on November 15.