During its ongoing Gamefest 2008 developer conference in Seattle, Microsoft announced that it is removing all subscription fees from Games for Windows Live services.
This fall, it also plans to launch a new Windows game marketplace akin to its existing Xbox Live Marketplace. Content, such as new gameplay, demos, and trailers, can be free or paid based on publisher choice.
Features of the PC-based Live service, which have varying levels of support among Games for Windows-branded titles, include skill-based matchmaking, a friends list, voice and text chat, and achievements, some of which were already free. The system's user interface will also be redesigned.
Said Microsoft's Entertainment Business Division CTO Chris Satchell during a Gamefest keynote address, "The first UI was good but it was too console-centric. It wasn't really what Windows gamers wanted. We have a new UI that's consistent with the way Windows gamers want to interact. It's free to you as a developer, and we're reducing the technical requirements.
"I believe, from hereon, Games for Windows Live is going to take off," Satchell added, showcasing Relic's upcoming Live-enabled, PC-exclusive title Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II as an example of a game that makes full use of the program's offerings.
Designed in the mold of the company's Xbox Live console multiplayer service, Games for Windows Live was previously available in similar free Silver and paid Gold tiered options. However, as Microsoft considers both programs part of the same network, Gold subscribers of either Xbox Live or Games for Windows Live have always had full access to both.