Microsoft Announces Web-Based Games Marketplace for PC Games

By Brian Leahy, Oct 22, 2010 7:00am PDT Currently, Microsoft sells digital PC titles through its Games for Windows Live client, but that will change on November 15 when the company rolls out its new web-based Games for Windows Marketplace.

Mock-ups of the new Games for Windows Marketplace site.

"With Games for Windows Marketplace, we set out to create a digital store built for PC gamers end-to-end," said Kevin Unangst, senior global director, PC and Mobile Gaming, at Microsoft. "And by integrating with our existing Xbox LIVE and Windows Live services, we've made it easier than ever for millions of gamers to see for themselves how easy buying PC games can be."

The new Marketplace will be located at GamesforWindows.com and handle all transactions on the website itself. Customers can use their Live ID, which can also be linked to an Xbox 360 Gamertag or Zune ID. Those with Microsoft Points stockpiled may use them to purchase games and DLC, but the new Marketplace will also allow credit and debit card purchases.

I also had a change to speak with Peter Orullian, Product Manager for PC and Mobile gaming at Microsoft about the relaunch. First and foremost, he confirmed to me that the Marketplace will not be selling games that use Steamworks. "If a game is a Steamworks game, it's not something we're selling."

Not all games will use Games for Windows, as is currently the case, and DRM solutions will be left up to to publishers. Steamworks is a no go, but Microsoft currently sells titles with Ubisoft's controversial always-on DRM. "On balance, we're selling more non-Games for Windows - Live games than those that are Live enabled," explains Orullian.

When asked about going up against the likes of Steam and Direct2Drive, Peter thinks that "competition is healthy and I hope people agree. We would love to definitely be a part of that conversation and doing the things we've done to create ease-of-use is something that I have a lot of confidence in users coming to appreciate."

At launch, around 100 games will be available with new titles added each week. "When people really dig into what we've got, it's great game after great game," said Orullian. "You don't really have to sift through games you've never heard of and games that are not reviewing well."

Microsoft will continue to run targeted "Deal of the Week" promotions with discounts as well as more general discount promotions. These deals of the week will need to be at a certain discount level and quality so that gamers "come to expect Deal of the Work to be a great game at a great price," explains Orullian. Promotions like the Xbox 360's Summer of Arcade or GameFeast will also run on the PC.

As can be seen in the screenshots above, Fable III appears in the listings. I asked if this confirmed Fable III for a PC release--its currently delayed indefinitely--but was told that everything is placeholder. Orullian added, however, that he "would definitely invite you to show up to our store on day one for some really cool things that I think are going to excite people."

The new Games for Windows Marketplace will launch on November 15.

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