Microsoft said Thursday that its Games for Windows Live online PC gaming service will soon play host to full, Live-enabled digitally-distributed games with the introduction of a new services called Games on Demand for Windows.
The service update, due December 15, is Microsoft's next move into digital distribution on PC. Currently, Games for Windows Live acts as a limited community platform for Games for Windows titles and a storefront for digital add-ons for games. Users will be able to use Microsoft points or a credit card to buy games.
By setting up a storefront where gamers can download full retail games, Microsoft is stepping further into territory largely occupied by PC game digital distribution leader Valve, whose Steam service boasts 20 million accounts.
The revamped service will launch with several games, including Capcom's Resident Evil 5, Volition's Red Faction: Guerrilla, and Eidos Hungary's Battlestations: Pacific. New Live-enabled versions of 2D Boy's World of Goo and Hemisphere Games' Osmos will also launch on the platform. Included for free will be the formerly-exclusive Windows Vista Ultimate Extra game, Tinker.
“With Games on Demand, we didn’t just want to create a cut-and-paste version of existing digital distribution services,” Live Engagement Services general manager Mike Ybarra said in a statement.
"We challenged ourselves to deliver an integrated platform that takes full advantage of the unique capabilities offered by the Live service," he continued. "Our goal has always been to create a seamless online gaming experience for the Windows community, and Games on Demand is a great step toward that end."
Microsoft said that with Games on Demand for Windows, users will be able to reinstall games at will, "wherever you want." Existing Games for Windows Live games, which include Fallout 3, Street Fighter IV, and others, link to users' Xbox Live Gamertags, allowing for non-gameplay connectivity with the large Xbox Live console community.