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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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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
“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith
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