Games for Windows Gets On Demand Downloads, But Why?

By  |  Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Microsoft is being Microsoft and stepping into a market that the competition proved fertile a long time ago. This time, the company’s offering on demand downloads of PC games, going toe-to-toe with Steam, GamersGate, Direct2Drive and others.

The service, called Games on Demand, launches on December 15 as part of Games for Windows – LIVE. (I guess that awkward en dash prevents people from thinking of Windows Live, which is something entirely different. Chalk it up to bad naming habits, maybe?)

Anyway, I’m scratching my head, looking at Microsoft’s press release and trying to determine how Games On Demand will distinguish itself from the competition, particularly Steam, which rules the market. Looks like a pretty straightforward download service to me, but the company swears this one is different: “With Games on Demand, we didn’t just want to create a cut-and-paste version of existing digital distribution services,” Mike Ybarra, general manager of Live Engagement Services, boasts.

The one specific benefit Microsoft describes is the ability to “re-install your games whenever you want, wherever you want.” Steam does that too, because games are linked to your Steam account, rather than a specific computer. As for games, Steam already sells everything Microsoft lists as launch titles, including Resident Evil 5, Red Faction Guerrilla, Battlestations: Pacific, World of Goo and Osmos. Also, the features you get with Games for Windows look pretty much like Steam, with matchmaking, voice chat, text messaging and achievements.

I’m not questioning Microsoft’s move — they’re now selling game downloads on the Xbox 360, so they might as well get some PC action too — but I don’t see any clear reasons for gamers to abandon the download services they already use.


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve Says:

    GamersGate also offers the anytime, anywhere downloading option…

  2. WixosTrix Says:

    I didn’t read the press release so I don’t know the specifics but I assume this is just part of Microsoft’s attempt to close the gap between Xbox Live and Games for Windows – Live. I don’t know how well they are doing at the moment but I know there are some games the cross-platform with Xbox and the PC and I’m pretty sure Microsoft hasn’t given up on that initiative just yet. i doubt every gamer is going to jump shit from what they already have, but some might and and future gamers are sure to adopt it. I think the main benefit will be that it will be connected to your Windows Live account, if you have one, and you can use your Microsoft Points. Since it’s all back-end is Live, perhaps in the future if you buy an Xbox 360 title you’ll get the PC version as well and vice-versa, like with movies and TV in Zune. I know that’s far-fetched but it’s possible, especially with Microsoft.