GAMEFEST 08: Online multiplayer for PC games gets revamp, with Xbox 360-style Marketplace due too

Games for Windows Live now free to developers

Microsoft has announced that its Games for Windows Live platform is now free to use for developers looking to add PC multiplayer functions to their games.

The firm’s newly promoted Chris Satchell, CTO of the company’s Entertainment devices division, announced the news in his keynote at the Microsoft Gamefest conference, which kicked off today.

Previously, select publishers and developers used the system and had to pay for it – now, however, it’s free as, said Satchell “we want to improve the velocity of how it is adopted”.

Now, the Xbox Live-style functions are available for free for both developers and consumers.

Satchell added that the move was a “way to improve Windows gaming”.

As well as free multiplayer, Microsoft has reduced the technical requirements for those developers looking to utilise Live – such as removing playlist servers, allowing studios to use the Microsoft matchmaking servers instead – and will be adding a new Marketplace to the PC version of Live later this year.

Commented Satchell: “It’s completely free to consumers and free to you as developer to exploit it – that’s the barrier to adoption removed. I think the adoption will take off – it’s a great component to improve your games”

Microsoft also revamping the UI

“The first UI was good but was too console-centric. We took what we know and converted it to Windows – but it wasn’t what windows gamers wanted,” explained Satchell, showing images of the new version that ‘improved the experience’.

Overall, he summarised: “If there was ever a time to get into Windows gaming with Games For Windows Live – this is the time to do it.”

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