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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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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.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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