Most PC users would tell you that news of Microsoft finally calling time on its terrible Games for Windows Live experiment is broadly good. Having a united profile that you could use on Xbox and PC was all well and good in theory, but the reality was a mess of lost saves, endless update cycles and a general lack of care at providing the basics of a solid, digital service.
Now, if a support update to Age of Empires Online (subsequently removed after it became news) is to be believed, Games for Windows Live will be shutting down in July 2014. The Age of Empires Online message was spotted by NeoGaf (although I guess I could pretend, like most of the rest of the games press, that I just happened to be reading that very support page today,) and read as follows:
Games for Windows Live will be discontinued on July 1, 2014. Although it is available through Steam, Age of Empires Online requires features of the Games for Windows Live service. You can continue to enjoy all the features of Age of Empires Online as the service will remain 100% operational until July 1, 2014 when the server will shut down. Please visit the Age of Empires Online forums for additional details.
Not unexpected news. Publishers including Capcom and Warner Bros have been moving away from using GfWL in the past few months and the last major release to use it was probably Dark Souls last year.
Here’s the downside. What’s going to happen to all of those games which require you to sign in to GfWL to start playing them? Well, unless the various developers and publishers (or some kind-hearted community types) patch the service out of the game, you’ll have problems accessing them. Warner Bros. is reported to already be doing this for the Batman Arkham games (files to that effect have been found in the Steam registry,) but what of Dark Souls, or Grand Theft Auto IV?
Their fates are up in the air until either Microsoft announces some sort of contingency plan, or the people behind the individual games take action themselves. It could be an irritating yet oddly fitting end to the service. GfWL: still able to causing serious problems to players after death.