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Live for Windows will hold onto Xbox Live prices, and will offer cross-platform gaming

No one doubts that Microsoft had plans to bring some form of its Xbox Live service and model to PC gamers after it announced its Games for Windows initiative to reinvigorate computer games. The biggest questions about a Live for Windows service are around pricing and interoperability with Xbox Live.

A new trailer for Shadowrun displayed a tiny banner of text near the end of the video which read, “Cross platform play requires Xbox Live Gold account and hard drive (on Xbox 360), or Games for Windows – Live Gold account (on Windows).” Clearly, Microsoft has plans for cross platform play between its console and the PC, and the notice of there being a “Gold” account for the Windows platform indicates a premium, paid tier of service.

Even at GDC, Microsoft remained quiet on details surrounding Live for Windows, though Game Informer has learned that the pricing for Live service will be consistent across the platforms. That means that a yearlong subscription of Gold is 49.99, one month is $7.99, and $19.99 for three months. The Silver level subscription will be free to all Live for Windows users, though it will be limited in features, such as cross platform gameplay, compared with the Gold level.

Those who have existing Xbox Live Gold subscriptions can carry over their memberships to work on PC games with all Gamertags and Gamerscore. Achievements are also expected to be worked into Games for Windows games, with Halo 2 expected to be one of the first games to incorporate the gameplay incentive feature.

Microsoft may face some challenges in convincing PC gamers to pay for features that they’ve previously been enjoying for free. While console gamers may accept the subscription model due to the differences between running a closed console platform and an open PC platform, getting gamers to pay to play online (aside from an MMORPG) could be difficult.

It remains to be seen what other incentives Microsoft will provide to its Live service for Windows to entice PC gamers to pay. Games for Windows PR director Michael Wolf said to Joystiq last year, “We're not crazy enough to think that people will suddenly start paying $50 a year to get something they already get for free on Windows ... all I can say now is that we're working to make a Gold membership worthwhile even if you're only connecting to Live from Windows Vista.”

Xbox 360 gamers, however, are probably pleased that their subscriptions are continuously expanding in functionality, from Video Marketplace movie downloads to the new age of PC gaming on Windows Vista.



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By kilkennycat on 3/7/2007 8:15:00 PM , Rating: 2
... in the case of Shadowrun, the PC mouse/KB interface response has been DELIBERATELY SLOWED to put the PC player and the console player on an equal footing :-( :-( Presumably if the PC player uses the MS Controller for Windows (the Xbox360 wired gamepad with PC driver) very little response- adjustment is needed. Hopefully this deliberate slowing of the PC mouse-interface will not become endemic for all games with counterparts on the Xbox360 and common Xbox Live access. The professional PC games players are going to get p/o'd pretty quickly.... Hopefully the games will build-in some automated sensing that only slows the mouse/KB response when any Xbox360 console players are involved in the on-line gaming session. And, of course any single-player mode in the PC version have no extra mouse/KB slow-down. From what I have read so far, Shadowrun does not have any such automatic sensing.




By WayneG on 3/7/2007 8:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
heard of adjustable DPI mice (especially the G5/7 and some Razer mice)? I can adjust the speed of my mouse on the fly as well as adjust its acceleration in games and out of games. No amount of coding within a game can stop this fact. Fact of the matter is that a lot of console junkies are going to get owned/pwned/raped/etc. This should be hilarious.


By Spoelie on 3/7/2007 8:57:32 PM , Rating: 4
mouseDistanceMoved = getPlayerInput();
if (mouseDistanceMoved > MAX_ALLOWED) mouseDistanceMoved = MAX_ALLOWED;
process(mouseDistanceMoved);

too simplistic, but it seems to me that it wouldn't be very hard to limit the speed (distance per time unit) of a crosshair in a game. If you alter the DPI and tell the program you moved more, they can still ignore it and just move it the maximum allowed speed in the direction indicated.


By Tsuwamono on 3/8/2007 2:59:46 PM , Rating: 2
i agree dude. this is why i play PC games. i hate controlers for FPS. They are great for racing and RPG but for FPS i hate it. Its not my fault some retard wants to use a controller VS me with my keyboard and mouse. Let him get raped, its his fault for being dumb


By Midas360 on 3/7/2007 11:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wait there one second... you may think we XBOX 360 "console junkies" use a "controller" but some of us use a mouse and keyboard. Yes that is right, there is a hardware device that allows us to play XBOX 360 games with a mouse and keyboard.

You best be ready cause we sure are.. =0}


By willow01 on 3/8/2007 12:45:51 AM , Rating: 2
I've never used one but isn't it a little different than using a mouse. Kind of like using a mouse in place of a joystick in a flight game, it won't exactly follow your movements.

Anyway aside from that there should just be a host option and maybe a game search option to match that allows you to say either "controllers only", "kb and mouse only" and or "PC only", "Xbox 360" only. I know this would kind of defeat the purpose and most probably maintain a divide in the service, but then the games don't need to be hampered on PC and people have a choice.


By Ryanman on 3/8/2007 2:18:27 AM , Rating: 2
not only is it not exactly the same, its also 80 bucks and doesnt work with my G%/G15
Howeverr, im sure its better than a controller.
so i'll save the $ for a vidcard, or yogurt i guess ; )


By comradeiggy on 3/7/2007 8:23:45 PM , Rating: 2
I hope to god they include a pc-user only option.


By Omega215D on 3/7/2007 9:04:35 PM , Rating: 2
They really shouldn't cripple mice & keyboard users because there are people who claim that they can play better using their game pad compared to people on mice & keyboard and vice versa. Seems pretty level as it is... or maybe MS should make keyboards and mice for their 360?


By otispunkmeyer on 3/8/2007 4:46:17 AM , Rating: 2
true

if the games are gonna be PC and 360, then there is no excuse for not getting a Kb and mouse working on both setups like the controller set up works on both.

i mean, i know they'll bothered about less people not paying for the heavily marked up peripherals but surely they can make like a 360 specific wireless/wired KB and mouse that stops people just using any old KBM.


By Gatt on 3/7/2007 10:13:42 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not convinced it'll make a difference.

It's not the speed of the controller that's an issue so much as the precision of the mouse/keyboard that makes the difference.

I've no problem moving quickly in any of my 360 games, I have problems moving precisely.


By Magnus Dredd on 3/8/2007 10:53:32 AM , Rating: 2
1) If the PC version has it's controls handicapped, I won't buy it.

2) If I have to use Live to play it online (with no options for LAN), then I won't buy it. The ONLY game I EVER play against people I don't know is America's Army. I do however play some games (Dawn of War, Doom3) with some friends on the net, or they come over for a LAN party. I play multiplayer games with my friends as a social thing because that's what I enjoy.

3) I won't pay for Live. I don't like consoles, I hate the controllers. I already have a Core2 PC, a Core2 laptop, and a few Athlons, all on my home network... Why would I pay for a gaming service guaranteed to be full of obnoxious children, anti-social griefers, annoying whiners, and obsessed uber-gamers who develop God-like skills from playing 8 hours a day and destroy everyone else.


By PrezWeezy on 3/8/2007 1:22:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't really see why. I know from playing Halo that I can get crushed no matter what I'm playing on. The really good PC gamers are going to kill the crappy 360 gamers, and vice-versa. I play casualy so I expect to get destroyed when I play online but I don't think a mouse/kb is going to make me any better. It's just a preference. I have a friend who can snipe anyone, anytime for hours on end and never die on the 360. Put him on a PC and he gets owned every time. It's all about what you learn on and what you can work better with.


heres how..
By LumbergTech on 3/7/2007 8:03:05 PM , Rating: 2
the way that they will get people to pay is by forcing them to one way or another by making it so that companies that dont opt into this program will face difficulties or they will strip down the online features of their games for people who dont use gold service




RE: heres how..
By Larrymon2000 on 3/7/2007 8:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I'd more interested to see RTS gaming b/w PC and Xbox360. I wonder who can micromanage faster in BFMEII?


RE: heres how..
By Ryanman on 3/8/07, Rating: 0
RE: heres how..
By Dg01 on 3/7/2007 10:11:40 PM , Rating: 2
So what your saying is that Microsoft should say Pay us or else you cant play online. Next Microsoft will be saying pay us a yearly subscription to access the internet.

I really don't see any PC gamer buying into this, unless of course they just want to play their mates on Xbox.
XFire and Comrade are FREE!!

Free Online gaming FTW.


RE: heres how..
By nightdagger on 3/7/2007 10:55:02 PM , Rating: 2
M$ isn't saying that you have to pay them for online play, they're saying that you have to pay them for the use of a pre-established online gaming service that has features you wouldn't get without the platform. You will (probably) still be able to play online, but just not with players on 360s. In any case, I get the best of both worlds by just carrying over my XBL gamertag.

And to everyone complaining about slowing down PCs to make consoles more competitive, I haven't seen a definitive post by the developers saying that is the case. I could be wrong.


RE: heres how..
By Nekrik on 3/8/2007 12:16:38 AM , Rating: 2
Everyone is complaining or making predictions about something they have little or no direct experience with. I'm pretty sure that in the testing phase or the beta someone would notice if the console players were getting schooled every round. If they did need to balance it I'm curious how they would do it.

"they will get people to pay is by forcing them"
-it's a product being sold by a company, if you don't want to pay for it, don't, it's your choice.


RE: heres how..
By Ryanman on 3/8/07, Rating: 0
RE: heres how..
By vanka on 3/8/2007 1:50:22 AM , Rating: 2
I love it how people always jump to conclusions on very little facts and with very little thinking. I find it hard to believe that MS would be able to force a company/gamer to support or use their Live service.

First of all, MS will probably offer some very good incentives for publishers to use their service. If I recall correctly, the Games for Windows (or Windows Gamers) program offers marketing help and other goodies for those who take the trouble to meet the requirements and pass certification. So I see MS offering something similar for Live for Windows participants. It may even become a requirement for Windows Game certification; which is a good thing as the purpose of Windows Games is to make it easy for Joe Moron to install and play his $60 game - which would presumably include online play.

Second, no one is forcing anyone to install Live for Windows. Ok, I admit: no one is forced to install it yet. But I find it difficult to believe that MS could cripple other online game services when all of their activities are under such scrutiny. If MS did try something of that nature - it would be all over the internet in minutes.

Lastly, if the Live for Windows is anything at all like the highly rated Xbox Live service; there will be plenty of people willing to pay the $50 yearly fee. If MS does the right thing and require only one subscription for one Xbox and one PC, I think think that it will do very well. Also, remember that there is a basic version for those who are are unwilling or unable to scrape up the funds for the Gold version. All in all this is good for games and gamers; either the developers/publishers will team up with MS to create a standardized online interface - or they will create something of their own to compete with Live. Either way the gamers win.


RE: heres how..
By Ryanman on 3/8/07, Rating: 0
Watch out!
By Naviblue on 3/7/2007 8:00:38 PM , Rating: 4
It's going to be pretty interesting to see PC Gamers and XBox 360 Gamers go head to head in a FPS. I don't know about everyone else but I can't stand trying to aim with a controller.




RE: Watch out!
By IceTron on 3/8/07, Rating: -1
RE: Watch out!
By Ryanman on 3/8/2007 2:16:31 AM , Rating: 2
mmm? and you flaming on a tech forum means that, instantly, women will like you more.

Pot: "Kettle, you're so black!"


RE: Watch out!
By Flunk on 3/9/2007 2:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Wait, aren't most pots stainless steel?


So how long till the PS3 becomes a viable platform?
By Toebot on 3/7/2007 8:16:12 PM , Rating: 2
Or should I hold out for the Linux gaming desktop?




By sscilli on 3/7/2007 9:01:35 PM , Rating: 2
FPS games will be hilarious with this. If they don't slow it down console users will get slaughtered, but if they slow it down why the hell would PC users even want to buy it? I don't see this working for FPS to be honest, but other genres of games will be ok.


Lets look at it this way
By Hotdogah on 3/8/2007 1:58:41 AM , Rating: 2
Microsoft is going to get a cold shoulder on this at the start, however realistically, think about what happens when Halo 3 comes out on the Xbox and pc -- in very possible scenario, why buy an Xbox when you have a pc, either way Msft wins they want to sell the software and live Gold level and we do ok as we don’t haft to buy one system to play the game. However when we want to play online we'll haft to pay the subscription to play online.
Now thinking about my experiences with punk buster on battlefield Vietnam or the problems with weird lag and the hours spent with unreliable servers on counter strike source this could work as a plus for pc gamers. If a xbox developer wants their game to work on the pc they just need to basically push the platform port button which was released in Microsofts SDK last year and walla a pc game and a xbox game.




RE: Lets look at it this way
By Ryanman on 3/8/2007 2:26:59 AM , Rating: 2
Wait. I have another theory. Halo 3 Will not be released until 3-4 years after the X360 version. It will be a crappy port (halo 1 and two???) and only diehard guys like me will play it. It will also be non-cross platform, Because bungie stopped even caring about us two years ago. Am I a cynic? yeah. Am I right? Absolutely.


Vista Ultimate Gadget
By Sarrow on 3/8/2007 2:43:44 AM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see this as a Vista Ultimate Gadget




RE: Vista Ultimate Gadget
By Visual on 3/8/2007 7:00:05 AM , Rating: 2
oh, it may very well turn out to be limited to vista ultimate - esp. if someone high up at ms reads your post :p

but it won't be free for ultimate owners, you'll still have to pay annual subscription.


By PAPutzback on 3/8/2007 10:23:08 AM , Rating: 2
I play on both. And I don't see any lag with a wireless controller. Yet I have seen lag with my MX700 at a couple feet away from the receiver. Yes obviously games that require many key combinations won't port right to the 360 and chances are those type of games might not come out on the 360 IE. Warcry, Guild wars... But for straight up FPS this is going to be a level playing field for most gamers. Yes you will have some gamers with high end systems that might get a millisecond better peformace via graphics hardware or network latency but skilled gamers know how to deal with low ping and such. You just lead a little early. Anything that akes input and creates output is a computer. Whether you wrap it in a tower, xbox, briefcase or toaster shell.




By oneils on 3/8/2007 10:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
I take input and create output, you should plug in a mouse and keyboard into me and see how many frames per second you get!

Just kidding with ya ;)


By mrgq912 on 3/9/2007 8:53:00 AM , Rating: 2
1) I started a thread in AT forums on this very topic a few months ago. Someone on the thread posted this very informative link. Its an article by the Devs of shadowrun talking about control balancing.

http://shadowrun.com/backstage/controller_balancin...

thread: http://forums.anandtech.com/messageview.aspx?catid...

2) They should make Live for Windows free. On one hand MS says they want to revive the PC gaming arena, but then the go and do something that will only drive people away, making us pay. Make it free and more people will play on the PC.




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