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

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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.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 12, 2008 12:17 PM

    Competition is good, but they do have a lot of catching up to do. Steam is really great right now, especially with the addition of Cloud.

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      November 12, 2008 12:18 PM

      Microsoft never loses.

      • reply
        November 12, 2008 12:20 PM

        You are obviosly a retarded talking dinosaur.

      • reply
        November 12, 2008 12:52 PM

        I sorta have to agree here, they might lose for the first year or two, but they have so many resources....

        • reply
          November 12, 2008 1:05 PM

          zune...

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            November 12, 2008 1:11 PM

            Microsoft has lost just about every online thing they've ever done - either because they came into the show too late with mediocre execution (Zune/Various music stores) or bought and ruined it (Hotmail, which they've only just unfucked on Firefox/Safari).

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              November 12, 2008 3:00 PM

              i hardly call zune a failure, everyone has one thinks its far superior to an ipod, myself included.

              • reply
                November 12, 2008 3:29 PM

                FINALLY someone who agrees with me about the Zune. Man the bigots I work with never get off my back about how awesome their iPod is and how much my Zune must suck because it's not an iPod, even though they REFUSE to try it.

          • reply
            November 12, 2008 1:13 PM

            It's a solid second to the iPod, quite a feat amongst the others and it's share will grow more than drop.

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              November 12, 2008 2:36 PM

              If they ever release it outside North America where there's a giant Apple hard-on.

          • reply
            November 12, 2008 4:10 PM

            Exactly. The new Zunes are doing very well and MS has only been in the market for a short time.

      • reply
        November 12, 2008 1:17 PM

        games for windows live support tends to disagree.

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        November 12, 2008 1:36 PM

        Dude, if the European Union can make MS pay their countries' wages for 2 years with bankrupting them, they can survive a new product launch. How much did those European asshatfucks get out of MS, like $30 million? For an OS variation that no one bought.

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          November 13, 2008 7:57 AM

          497,2 Million € for abusing their monopole over the software market by including their software and binding it to the operating system so that other products available are ignored by the customers.

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            November 13, 2008 2:15 PM

            Except that other products available to the customer stank. RealNetworks complained up and down that MS was killing them, and overlooked the fact that their own software was bloated, slow, unstable, and was actually classified as adware at various points. Yet companies like Mozilla could come along, create a better product that MS made, and, wow, it actually competes. And MS wasn't forced to remove IE from the OS like they were with Windows Media Player.

            This notion that Microsoft must cater to other company's shortcomings really irks me. They're certainly not perfect. But if we don't like their product, who are we to force them to change how they do business, when we can simply use our own alternative OS/Applications rather than running roughshod over their right to compete and develop freely.

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      November 12, 2008 12:27 PM

      What good would competition do here though? We don't pay any kind of premium to use Steam, so it's not like they need to compete for our dollars.

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        November 12, 2008 12:29 PM

        Competition could improve both services. Don't get me wrong, I was not happy to see this article and would rather just stick with Steam, but realistically it could be a good thing.

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          November 12, 2008 6:23 PM

          It does worry me a bit. MS is literally the 300 lb gorilla in the room. It wouldn't be too hard for them to buy exclusivity on AAA titles. Kinda of a double win for them if they succeed. You already need some version of Windows for gaming and after getting Valve out of the way or buying them outright, they can charge a yearly fee to play online, same as the 360.

          I'd expect this to be a key feature in Windows Azure.

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        November 12, 2008 12:32 PM

        No premium??

        COD4 is STILL almost twice as much for me on steam vs retail box.

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          November 12, 2008 12:34 PM

          The pricing point is not Valve's decision. And yes, COD4 is still ridiculously expensive.

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            November 12, 2008 6:18 PM

            Probably because it's selling extremely well even though it still costs $50.

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        November 12, 2008 12:37 PM

        you do pay a premium, just not in the ways you think

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          November 12, 2008 12:49 PM

          Such as?

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            November 12, 2008 1:04 PM

            competition tends to help the consumer by forcing retailers to lower prices. You asked what good competition would do. That guy up above said steam prices are twice those of retail prices.

            Lets assume that the people setting the price of COD4 on Steam aren't retarded, instead they just don't think they need to lower the price to improve sales. Now we have to figure out why that is. Could it be because they don't feel the same competitive forces as retail stores?

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              November 12, 2008 2:59 PM

              But would both online retailers carry the same game? It's up the same people who set the prices.

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                November 12, 2008 4:11 PM

                And if no one buys, they will lower prices.

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      November 12, 2008 12:30 PM

      Steam is great and all on the actual distribution front but it varies wildly as an application. It can be fine at times, then slow and unresponsive in others. Almost daily now, I lose connection to the Friends network with interruptions of 15-20 minutes at a time. I have no doubts about MS's ability to code a tight, stable app based on their experiences with Live Messenger.

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        November 12, 2008 12:37 PM

        that might be more of an idication of your internet/network connection or something on your PC. I rarely have an issue with Steam, and I use it flawlessly on both of my computers.

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          November 12, 2008 12:40 PM

          I am in Europe too, not Canada. It's not my connection as when Steam does eventually reconnect, my friends all state they suffered the same problem.

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            November 12, 2008 12:43 PM

            It just did it again, a minute after I posted that comment. Third time tonight.

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            November 12, 2008 12:43 PM

            This does seem like a personal issue. It must depend on your ISP as I only get friends dropouts 2 or 3 times a week.

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            November 12, 2008 12:46 PM

            I also do get disconnected from my friends alot. I think the best feature would be if you could message MSN friends from ingame like steam does with an overlay and steam friends, having teh ability to do that with all of my MSN friends would be an instant convert (i would also use steam, but noone is saying I can't use both.)

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        November 12, 2008 1:01 PM

        I lose connection to steam friends maybe 5 times a day. Its awful.

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        November 12, 2008 3:04 PM

        never had any noticeable problems with steam. occasional dropout here and there, but nothing that
        makes me shit my pants from frustration

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      November 12, 2008 12:30 PM

      Hopefully the MS offering isn't super fond of churning the HD like Steam seems to be.

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        November 12, 2008 3:19 PM

        what do you mean by "churning"? Being old, to me churning is butter-related.

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          November 12, 2008 3:32 PM

          Reading/writing to the HD a whole lot more than seems necessary. I knew something was up when Steam told me it needed to "defragment." WTF?

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            November 12, 2008 3:43 PM

            It checks to see if your .gcf files are fragmented. It offers to fix them to improve performance. Is this a bad thing? It has never started the process without my confirmation, so I don't really see the problem here.

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            November 12, 2008 4:13 PM

            My HDD doesn't seem to "churn" while using Steam.... when does it do it for you?

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            November 12, 2008 4:47 PM

            now to me that would be called "thrashing"

    • reply
      November 12, 2008 12:49 PM

      They (MS) had a lot of catching up to do with Nintendo and Sony when they decided to enter the console market. I'd say they did just fine in that department.

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        November 12, 2008 5:32 PM

        if thats the quality they put out on GFW, they can keep it. Rushing out the console, even if it is the most fun of the 3 consoles... was the worst move they made. I know people who are on their SIXTH 360 because of RRODs