Microsoft to kick Steam rivalry up a notch

Some of us were a little surprised to see Microsoft open a digital distribution service for games last December, and today, the Games on Demand store is still alive and well—you just need to create a Gamertag and grab the Games for Windows Live software to use it. According to Shacknews, that will soon change. Microsoft is reportedly cooking up a web-based Games for Windows Live Marketplace.

Due to open November 15, the web store will apparently look… well, a whole lot like Steam. Folks will be able to purchase games directly from the website using a credit or debit card, although other purchase methods, like Microsoft Points, will also be accepted. About 100 games will be available at launch, with more to come "each week."

I’ve never been crazy about the whole Games for Windows Live thing, so having a (hopefully) simple, web-based option seems like a good thing. Microsoft may have a tough time drawing in current Steam users, though. I use Valve’s content distribution service for most of my game purchases and like being able to access them all through a single app, so I’d be hesitant to add another service to the mix. Perhaps, if Microsoft manages to offer more aggressive deals than Valve…

Comments closed
    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Microsoft Doesn’t offer anything appealing with their option.

    But the biggest set back is that they have burned the last bridge with pc gamers and that consumer base.

    Microsoft has no good will left. Sure their OS is fine but they’ve closed overy single PC dev they have.

    • Rahabib
    • 9 years ago

    sorry impulse I meant

    • BailoutBenny
    • 9 years ago

    I guess nobody researched this. There is a lot of hate directed towards GFWL and past experiences certainly justifies mistrust going forward. However, here is what has been said about the new service:

    1. NO CLIENT NECESSARY TO DOWNLOAD AND PLAY GAMES. That alone beats Steam. Purchases can be done with/without MS points and directly from the Web.

    2. If number 1 is indeed true, then that would imply no forced DRM from MS.

    3) No DRM means you can copy your files all over the place for backup purposes.

    4) All GFWL extended services like voice chat, messages, leaderboards, etc. are optional. No dev. needs to implement the services and nobody needs to use them. I also hear they will integrate across PC, phone and Xbox.

    • potatochobit
    • 9 years ago

    there is no rivalry
    I would not even call them underdogs

    it’s more like elementary school kids pretending to be shaq

    • Noigel
    • 9 years ago

    I appreciate Steam backing and promoting Indie titles. There have been some innovative games that I never would have enjoyed if Steam hadn’t put them in front of me. I don’t see Microsoft being willing to mess with anything that isn’t a Triple A title… we’ll see though.

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago

      Xbox Live Arcade already has some indie games, but not as many as Steam. With Apple’s App store and Android Marketplace, I think indie games are going to see a renaissance of sorts.

    • XaiaX
    • 9 years ago

    I think we know what happened to Fable 3’s PC launch date, now.

    • Trymor
    • 9 years ago

    Is this a stepping stone to more unity? W7 Phone, Zune, Xbox, and ‘PC’ would all do better with a more unified ‘platform’.

    Edit: Perhaps ‘framework’ would be a better term?

    • TREE
    • 9 years ago

    Microsoft really are losing touch with reality. How can they possibly hope to compete with Steam, considering its market share, its fan base and its multi-platform (all be it the Mac) attributes.

    I hate to quote Steve Jobs but if I recall correctly, he at one point stated that instead of working against great companies and trying to fruitlessly compete with them, it was in much better interests to Apple (and the other company) to work with them instead. I think in this case Microsoft should take on an Apple tactic and instead encourage development of a strong product, rather than /[

    • Skrying
    • 9 years ago

    I would love to say choice is great but in this case I don’t think that’s true. Steam works much better than Games for Windows Live and causing confusion and splitting of what is supported just makes more people want to stay away.

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    Will believe it when i see it and i expect when it does finally release to have some stupid feature or controversial limitations making it NOT a direct competitor to other digital stores out there.

    • HisDivineShadow
    • 9 years ago

    I consider this the beta of Windows App Store. I think there’s room in the world for more than just Steam, but I also think that there are too many digital distribution schemes out there.

    Steam, D2D, GfWL, Battle.net, EAstore.com, Gamestop, Impulse, Gamer’s Gate, THQ’s online store, Ubi-Soft’s online store, nVidia’s online store, Amazon wants a piece, Best Buy, I’m sure Wal-mart wants some, etc, etc.

    I want to be able to back up my digital purchases, but I also want the ability to re-download them if necessary. I also think that in exchange for letting them put DRM on my games, I want auto-patching and the other side-benefits Steam brings with it. A lot of these other methods limit the time you can re-download. D2D even has you downloading special patches for their versions only that you download manually in some cases.

    It’s just too obvious and necessary to have a game patch itself. And too annoying when you remember that, “Oh, right. This game, I didn’t buy on Steam. So I have to find the patch.”

    Especially if it’s something like Company of Heroes. “Be sure you load patch 1.01 before patch 1.02, 1.02 before 1.02b, 1.02b before 1.021a, 1.021a before 1.0211a, 1.0211a before 1.03, etc, etc.” Of course, none of these developers/publishers just have a download link for all the patches or a zip file with all the patches or even a page with links of a list of said patches.

    Do that a couple of times and you quickly pine for Steam. A lot of the other e-stores don’t have this and it’s why I think most of them need to die in favor of those that DO bring deals, auto-patching, back-ups, re-downloads (as many times and for as long as you need), and social elements like ingame msging and achievements.

    • Moha
    • 9 years ago

    And this service will be unavailable in unsupported countries list in GFWL ?

    • Prospero424
    • 9 years ago

    As usual, MS is late to the game with yet another me-too product.

    They might be able to attract people who are just now moving from retail box purchasing to digital distribution purchasing, but they will still have to undercut Steam’s prices OR offer integration with the XBox360 if they want to make even a dent in Steam’s momentum, and I think the chance of them pulling off either of those two things is just about nil at this point in time.

    Because, let’s face it: without XBox360 integration, there’s no way in hell that the MS game store and the new GFWL are going to be anywhere near as full-featured and dynamic as Steam is.

    I have a feeling that, like they almost always do, MS is going to try to pry their way into a market with an inferior version of an existing product. Afterwards, the the company will wind up abandoning it after a few months to a year, they’ll let it languish in obscurity for a while, then they’ll shut it down when it becomes clear that they weren’t willing to spend the sort of resources necessary to make it a success in the first place.

    It’s a pattern I’ve just seen them repeat too many times now to see them avoiding it in this case. They can’t help it.

    • Suspenders
    • 9 years ago

    I just don’t trust Microsoft enough to want to purchase my games there. Tommorow they might decide to screw over their userbase, and because this isn’t a core business to them it won’t really matter much. Impulse, or Steam, or some of the others really need to think before they decide to screw over their userbase because it is their core business, and it could cost them a lot more down the road if they do.

    I’m also not really confident that Microsoft sees PC gaming as something that’s vitally important to them, and until I do I won’t feel comfortable getting my games through their service.

    • elnad2000
    • 9 years ago

    I just uninstalled GFWL.

    I only had Batman Arkham Asylum on it for a deal I got a year ago, but since Steam offer it for 13$ this weekend, I just bought it again to get rid of GFWL. I hate having two separate systems. I bought some games for Direct2Drive in the past and since there is no “client”, just direct download, I can live with it. And I can add the non-steam games to Steam.

    I really hate the Microsoft softwares lately. GFWL, Live Messenger, Live Mail, Windows 7 (yeah I know, suppose to be good, but I really hate breadcrumb, new Start Menu, new Explorer, new windows bar without the quick launch and running apps separate). Keep changing everything we love Microsoft. That a great way to keep power users.

    Now if someone could develop a Mediaportal plugin for Steam games, my HTPC would be perfect. So great to play computer games on a 46″ TV.

      • Dashak
      • 9 years ago

      +1 for GFWL hate. I have several games that use it, but am irritated by their service to the point of not wanting to play the games I bought because of that service.

      • Voldenuit
      • 9 years ago

      Hm… Steam page for B:AA lists both Securom and GFWL. Not sure if GFWL is optional if you don’t intend to play online.

      Just picked it up for $13 myself, still downloading. Oh, and it says it has a 4-activation limit on Securom. Asshats.

      • HisDivineShadow
      • 9 years ago

      You still use GFWL for Batman:AA, even on Steam.

        • Voldenuit
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah. You have Steam + Securom + GFWL on B:AA (if you buy through steam).

        Talk about a stacked deck of DRM -_-.

        At least they’ve enabled AA for ATI cards on the GOTY now, as they should have done on the game from the start.

        Still waiting on CS for a reply on the activation limits for the game, some claims on the forums that the GOTY has no activation limit, but the Steam Store Page says 4 machines. There is no revocation tool in the game folder, so either there’s supposed to be no limits or someone made a boo boo somewhere.

        Fun game, though.

        • elnad2000
        • 9 years ago

        Do you mean I will need to reinstall GFWL if I want to play Batman AA??? I hope it’s not true. How can they do that? I buy under Steam, I’m suppose to only need Steam to play. I’m pretty sure you only need Steam. Somebody can confirm if GFWL is optional or not?

        The DRM part don’t bother me really. I’m not a big gamer. I buy games, play for a couple of months or years on my HTPC or home office PC and uninstall them.

        The deals on Steam are good enough for me. Christmas is coming so I will have a bunch of new games for 10$ to test. Now I need to decide between a 460 GTX or 6850. Waiting for a good deal.

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          You will need to use GFWL to store your progress. You can use an offline GFWL profile to do it.

          • Palek
          • 9 years ago

          I do not have B:AA, but Dirt 2 purchased through Steam also uses (and requires) GFWL to play. 🙁

    • l33t-g4m3r
    • 9 years ago

    No. I already have built up a collection on steam. Microsoft is not going to split the market any further than it is, simply because people don’t want to run a million different services in the background.

    There also needs to be a cross-service agreement of some sort.
    Add a couple dollars to a game and get it available on multiple services, eg: impulse and steam.
    Also Steam adding DRM to DRM-FREE games is getting on my nerves.
    I’m not going to purchase these games from them if they don’t remove the steam component.
    One example is the game Amnesia, which I bought direct for this very reason.

      • Usacomp2k3
      • 9 years ago

      2 = 1 million?

        • Rahabib
        • 9 years ago

        if you count stardock impulse there are 3

    • TurtlePerson2
    • 9 years ago

    I guess this is technically kicking it up a notch, but it’s going to make Microsoft anymore competitive. Basically they’re going from terrible to bad.

    • Spotpuff
    • 9 years ago

    Cannot backup install files = fail. I’m not about to redownload a game just because Windows blew up.

    • Rectal Prolapse
    • 9 years ago

    I read that Microsoft will only offer games not already on Steam.

    • Sargent Duck
    • 9 years ago

    I’ll admit it, I like Microsoft, I like their products and I like how they’ve been trying to re-invent themselves.

    But I also like Steam. And GFWL left a bad taste in my mouth with FO3 on how “xbox’ish” its become. With Steam I know I’m shopping for PC games, not some sort of warmed-over xbox chat.

    That being said, yes, Steam is DRM, but it’s DRM that actually provides a benefit to me (game back-up). And it’s painless. That being said, I find my hotmail/SkyDrive/Office Web to be very painless as well, so Microsoft hopefully has learnt something there.

    We’ll see, but I can’t see big name manufactures jumping over to GFWL.

    • odizzido
    • 9 years ago

    While steam is somewhat annoying I can live with it when they sell the game for about $5-10. GFWL is at least twice as annoying so the games would need to be priced at around $2-5 for me to consider them.

    • no51
    • 9 years ago

    You mean GFWL is gonna do something other than subscribe people to the xbox e-newsletter? blasphemy!

    Looks like they’re selling blazblu through it. add that to the list of ‘reasons why i should get an arcade stick’

    • Sahrin
    • 9 years ago

    The only way MS will be able to bring Steam users over (which has pretty much saturated the market for “digital content delivery systems” for PC gamers) is by offering them something Steam doesn’t.

    Deals may be one thing, but two can play at that game and Valve has a ‘bigger stick” (better content).

    MS needs to offer things Valve doesn’t – mandatory no extra DRM; guaranteed compatibility (or at least disclose what games won’t run on modern systems), gifting of licenses, extra licenses can be gifted/resold – whatever. Something unique that Valve doesn’t want to do, but MS can because they have the platform muscle.

    My guess is this will be yet another half-assed effort on the part of MS to reach out to retail consumers.

    The only thing is, in this case I really won’t give a rats ass because I’m perfectly happy with Steam; and I’m not about to orphan all my content because MS wants to have a deal on a 4 year old X360 shooter with a piss-poor PC port.

      • XaiaX
      • 9 years ago

      They’ll offer one thing: “Games you can’t buy on Steam, at all.”

        • yogibbear
        • 9 years ago

        Yeah about the only game i’d buy would be Alan Wake…. but MS already screwed us over on that one…

      • TurtlePerson2
      • 9 years ago

      These things that you list are things that everyone cares about. If Microsoft beats Valve on price then they’ll win. I can’t think of any Microsoft product that has been released to undercut the competition.

        • BobbinThreadbare
        • 9 years ago

        The Xbox 360

          • Voldenuit
          • 9 years ago

          Except that if you got a Live Gold account at launch, you’d have paid something like $250 just to play online by now. And maybe $100 extra for the wifi adapter. $199 for the ill-fated HD-DVD drive.

          xbox 360 is many things, but “cheap” it was not.

    • toyota
    • 9 years ago

    I wonder what took them so long? really most people will likely stick with Steam for digital downloads unless there is some really good sale. I get crazy having my games all over the place too and prefer just one nice and tidy place.

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