By Jared Newman | Friday, October 22, 2010 at 9:23 am
Microsoft will do away with one of its biggest roadblocks to selling PC games by adding purchases directly from the web browser.
Currently, you have to download the clumsily-named Games for Windows – LIVE software to buy games from Microsoft. CNet reports that a new site will launch on November 15, called Games for Windows Marketplace, that lets people buy games without extra software.
Games for Windows – LIVE will still be used for large game files, but Xbox’s group project manager Peter Orullian told CNET that the software will “morph into a tool [consumers] might use for different reasons.” I’d like to see a way to manage friends lists and other online activity. You can’t do that in the existing software.
Client software isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but Microsoft must’ve had a tough time competing with Steam, Valve’s seven-year-old digital distribution platform. Steam is so entrenched that Microsoft needs a better way to promote itself. The web store will make for easy linking to sales and new game launches, perhaps leading to more impulse buys.
Microsoft also became more web-friendly this week with a redesigned Xbox.com. In addition to promoting the latest games and hardware, the site acts as a hub for managing friends, avatars and purchases. With any luck, Games for Windows and Xbox Live will eventually merge as one platform for PC, console and phone, with a single presence on the web. We’ll see what happens in November.
On a related note, I’m pleased to see that Microsoft already eliminated the need to purchase PC games with Microsoft Points, a fake currency with an obnoxious conversion rate (1,00 points equals $1.25). MS Points still linger on Xbox Live and in the Zune PC software, but it’s absent from Windows Phone 7. Xbox Group Product Manager Aaron Greenberg once said that displaying local currencies around the world was too technically complex, so maybe the company has finally figured it out.