Microsoft Confirms Plans to Challenge Steam with Digital Distribution of Full PC Titles

Speaking in an interview with Shacknews, Games for Windows Live general manager Chris Early confirmed that Microsoft has definite plans to distribute full PC titles through its Marketplace application in the future.

"Clearly it's on our road map," said Early when asked about the digital distribution of full titles.

Entering the realm of PC digital distribution will put Microsoft into direct competition with Steam developer Valve.

Microsoft today released a new Games for Windows Live update, which improves the interface. A separate update will arrive in two to three weeks, adding support for video, demos, and DLC downloads through a Marketplace application.

Steam currently features no priced DLC, a fact which Microsoft hopes to exploit with both publishers and customers by rolling out DLC support ahead of full distribution. For instance, though Games for Windows Live exclusivity does not preclude the titles such as Fallout 3 from being sold on Steam, Fallout 3's DLC will only be available on Microsoft's GFW Live Marketplace.

A portion of the interview follows. Check back tomorrow for the full article, including details on Microsoft's plans for game support in Windows 7.

Chris Early: When we get to the place where we do distribute games digitally, will we have a digital rights management system? Maybe. Or maybe we'll just continue to support the industry leaders in that. Because it is a hard thing to do. You talk to any of those companies, and that is their whole company, is doing digital rights management.

Shack: You were saying, "When we get to the place where we sell games eventually"?

Chris Early: Did I say that? [huge laughter]

Shack: Because I ask you guys every time we do one of these interviews..

Chris Early: Clearly it's on our road map.

Shack: It's on your road map. So that's what you're looking at as a next step?

Chris Early: Right.

Shack: So this is your DLC effort, and rolling out the infrastructure, and then that will come next.

Chris Early: Right. And if I were to make that choice again today, would I go the same way? I absolutely would. Because this is something that you can't do today on a PC, right? You can buy digitally through a bunch of places.