Microsoft Admits Games For Windows Live Possibly Not Amazing

by Adam Biessener on Mar 08, 2011 at 08:45 AM

Joining the rest of the world at long last, a senior Microsoft employee has allowed for the possibility that the company's matchmaking, stat-tracking, and marketplace service on PC may have been less than successful.

Senior producer of interactive entertainment Kevin Unangst told website CVG, "I think because it was designed originally as a partner to the console service more than the PC service, we had a rocky start."

Unangst went on to promise improvements to Games for Windows Live. Microsoft is apparently listening to feedback from Lionhead (Fable III) and Gas Powered Games (Age of Empires Online) in an attempt to make the service better. Unangst pointed to Halo and Xbox Live, and how Bungie drove a lot of the specifications for the service by requesting features to enable the game the studio wanted to make. He also used Epic and its recent Bulletstorm as an example of this philosophy in action.

"Epic did a great job of promoting [Windows] Live with Bulletstorm. They're pleased with the platform and the service is going to continue to get better over time," Unangst added.

Never mind that I had to give Bulletstorm the three-finger salute to get the game to run (since the GFWL client insisted on updating, which it had to shut down for, but Bulletstorm refused to do anything at all unless I was logged into GFWL, which I couldn't do until it updated). I'm sure Epic thoroughly enjoys its relationship with Microsoft, but I couldn't care less as a gamer.

Bully for Microsoft if it manages to turn GFWL into something better. It's encouraging to hear the company commit to continuing to work on the platform, but we've heard this song and dance before with how the Games for Windows initiative was going to revitalize PC gaming.

Remember how great it was for the PC market when Microsoft delayed (or never bothered with in the first place) the PC version of every high-profile game in its catalog? You know, the ones that the company spent millions of dollars developing and marketing, then released to great success on Xbox? Or Shadowrun? That one got released simultaneously on PC and Xbox. They just used an oversized cone of fire that obliterates the usefulness of aiming skill so that Xbox gamers wouldn't be at a disadvantage. Also, given its shuttering of veteran PC studios like Ensemble and FASA, I remain a bit skeptical of Microsoft's supposed championing of PC gaming.