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Games for Windows – LIVE
GFWL transparent.png
Developer(s) Microsoft
Initial release May 29, 2007 (2007-05-29)[1]

Games on Demand:

December 15, 2009 (2009-12-15)[2]
Stable release 3.02.0217.00 / December 15, 2009 (2009-12-15)
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Platform PC
Available in English
Development status Active
Type Content delivery, digital rights management (DRM), social networking
License Freeware

Games for Windows – LIVE (trademarked[3]) is an online gaming service for Games for Windows-branded PC titles. It enables Windows PCs to connect to the Live service, which will eventually include other devices including Windows Mobile and Zune. Users, each with a unique Gamertag, the Microsoft username service for gaming that began with the Xbox Live, are able to play online, keep track of their friends' status, send and receive messages, gain and keep track of Achievements, voice chat across platforms, and much more. Some games allow for cross-platform play, such as Shadowrun, putting Windows players against Xbox 360 players.

The features of the service will initially be limited, but will grow just as the features of Xbox Live have over the years. The service was shown in near-final form at CES 2007 during Bill Gates' keynote speech.

The service is open to 3rd-party developers, but they must be able to meet certain Technical Certification Requirements (TCRs), which include (but are not limited to): game ratings, total number of achievement points, content, game profiles, and Live connectivity. Games for Windows - Live games must also meet standard Games for Windows (games that do not have Live support) TCRs. The same developer support infrastructure is available as with the Xbox 360. Assistance to developers is provided through the Microsoft XNA Developer Connection.[4]



The old banner displayed on Games for Windows – Live software

One of the first Games for Windows – Live-enabled title was Shadowrun, which launched simultaneously on Windows Vista and Xbox 360 on May 29, 2007,[1][5] and is also the first LIVE title to offer cross-platform play between Windows Vista and Xbox 360 on the Live service.

Another game that was released is Halo 2 for Windows Vista, which was launched to the public on May 31, 2007.[1] The game supports all the standard Live features (such as achievements, voice chat, messages, etc.), but does not offer cross-platform play with Xbox 360 players.

Sega, Eidos, and THQ have signed on to include Games for Windows – Live in their upcoming games. Epic Games also included this service in their game engine Unreal Engine 3.[6]Universe at War: Earth Assault from Sega and Lost Planet: Colonies Edition from Capcom include cross-platform play between Xbox 360 and Windows over Live.

On July 22, 2008 Microsoft's Chris Satchell, CTO of the company's Entertainment devices division, announced that Games For Windows – Live would be free to developers. Previously, select publishers and developers used the system and had to pay for it. Also, all Games For Windows – Live features were now free for gamers, such as matchmaking and cross-platform play. Satchell added that the move was a "way to improve Windows gaming".[7]

As well as free multiplayer, Microsoft reduced the technical requirements for those developers looking to utilize Live such as removing playlist servers, and allowing studios to use the Microsoft matchmaking servers instead. The new Marketplace was made available for Games for Windows – Live on December 5, 2008. Microsoft also released the newly designed User Interface, on November 12, 2008.[8]

On January 7, 2010, it was announced at CES that the upcoming Xbox Game Room would be made available on both the Xbox Live and Games for Windows Live services.[9] However, games purchased with 240 Microsoft Points will only be playable on one of the platforms; either Xbox 360 or PC. A dual-platform license will cost 400 Microsoft Points.[10] As the Game Room will be available to Gold and Silver Xbox members, the service will be free to use on Games for Windows Live. Arcade games will feature achievements and online leaderboards.[11]

User interface

The gamer card allows the user to communicate with other players. First version of interface

The user interface or "Guide" was changed from earlier versions (Made to match the Xbox 360's appearance) to a new appearance. The guide includes messaging (text and voice), friends list, recent players, private chat, and personal settings.

The current version of the in-game Live client is version 3.02.0217.00, released on December 15, 2009. It is available for Windows XP (Service Pack 2 and above), Windows Vista, and Windows 7 operating systems. Version 3.0 added extended information about progress and some bugfixes. The client also auto-updates when users are logged-on to a Live-aware game.


The marketplace client was officially released on December 4th, 2009. It intially launched with demos and trailers of games available on the Live service.[12] Full titles were later added in the form of Games on Demand.

With version 3.0 of the Games for Windows - Live service, a in-game marketplace was included; in addition to new account management tools, such as the ability to change a Gamertag for 800 Microsoft Points.[13] The in-game marketplace enables users to purchase DLC without exiting, as it installs the content directly from within the game.[14]

Games on Demand

On December 15, 2009, Microsoft launched Games on Demand, a digital distribution service offering titles such as Resident Evil 5 and Battlestations: Pacific. Also available are arcade games such as a free version of Microsoft Tinker, a former exclusive to Windows Vista Ultimate, as well as World of Goo and Osmos.[2][15][16][17]

Some titles bought on Games on Demand include Server Side Authentication. This is a Games for Windows – LIVE 3.0 feature that automatically ties the game to your Windows Live ID and the Gamertag associated to it. These games have no activation limits and can be re-installed multiple times. The majority of the other titles on the service use a SecuROM DRM that lets the user activate the game up to five times each month on any hardware.[18]

Dark Void is the first title to have the Games for Windows – LIVE service limited exclusively to the Games on Demand digital release. Retail copies of the game will not have the LIVE features intergrated. Capcom have stated that other digital platform such as Steam may have the service patched in at a later date.[19]


Games for Windows Live is currently available in 26 countries:[20]

Games for Windows Live availability in the world

See also


  1. ^ a b c Sinclair, Brendan (May 24, 2007). "Halo 2 Vista delayed again" (in English). GameSpot. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  2. ^ a b LeBlanc, Brandon (December 18, 2009). "Games on Demand for Games for Windows – LIVE" (in English). Windows Team Blog. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  3. ^ "Microsoft Trademarks". Microsoft. 2007-12-13. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ " Shadowrun - Game Detail Page". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  6. ^ Minkley, Johnny (2006-08-22). "GCDC: "Cross-platform floodgates will open in 2008" - MS". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  7. ^ Chris Remo, Christian Nutt (July 22, 2008). "Microsoft To Add Games For Windows Marketplace, Drop Multiplayer Fees". Gamasutra. Retrieved April 7, 2009. 
  8. ^ French, Michael (2008-07-22). "Games for Windows Live now free to developers". Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Games on Demand, Meet Games for Windows – LIVE". Gamerscore Blog. December 3, 2009. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  16. ^ Peckham, Matt (December 16, 2009). "Games for Windows Live Adds 'Games on Demand' Downloads" (in English). PC World. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  17. ^ Fahey, Mike (December 3, 2009). "Games On Demand Coming To Games For Windows Live" (in English). Kotaku. Retrieved 24 December 2009. 
  18. ^
  19. ^ Steam
  20. ^ "Countries with LIVE Service". Microsoft. 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2008-10-01. 

External links



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