Windows Live general manager Chris Early has long been an advocate for the Games for Windows-Live cross platform strategy, and during an E3 presentation to select media, he, along with Games for Windows' global director Kevin Unangst explained what the platform has accomplished in the last year, what future expectations are for Games for Windows-Live, and how the effort is raising "the quality bar" for PC gaming.
Microsoft's Early, who was named
as the general manager for the company's Games For Windows-Live initiative earlier this month, seemed particularly enthusiastic about where the platform is headed, remarking that given the availability of APIs for XP, Vista, and Xbox 360 "the games that are in their early stages of either design or development now are going to have the opportunity to decide what they are going to do [with Games for Windows]."
"I even heard of games that are in design and development today that are planning on launching teasers on one platform that will tie into the game when it launches on another platform... almost like a demo," added Early.
However, the Games for Windows champion was the first to admit that Microsoft is not yet where it wants to be with its highly publicized "Live Anywhere" experience, specifically citing the lack of a common Windows Live dashboard as a significant shortcoming for the strategy to date. "It kills me that we don't have an 'out of game' experience," noted Early.
"I want presence. I want to know what my friends are doing; I want to be able to receive a game invite when I'm in the middle of my Word program. I don't like to work, I'd rather play games... but I don't want to have to keep Shadowrun
minimized to be able to get that access to it," continued Early, who added that this is "absolutely" what Microsoft is looking at currently.
Finally, addressing Microsoft's commitment to the Games for Windows brand, Unangst noted that part of the reason for the initiative was that Microsoft realized that it needed to "raise the quality bar" for PC games, "particularly for the large segment of consumers who maybe drive these games who weren't particularly thrilled with them or had bad experiences...compared to the console."
Added Unangst, "Game that carry the Games for Windows branding go through a process where we actually look through and test the games on roughly 25 different areas," including areas such as ease of installation, widescreen support, as well as checking how games handle different resolutions, changing resolutions, and multiple monitors.
He also revealed that Microsoft is constantly looking at ways to fine tune this screening process as well. "As we look at what scenarios we think are important to the broad space of users, we've got to go out and fix those," stated the executive, calling out areas such as installation, compatibility, quality, and safety as chief concerns for both Microsoft and the Games for Windows brand, which according to Microsoft will include 60 PC titles in North America by holiday 2007.
"The best thing about where we are now is that we shipped Vista in January, but these game companies have been working on a whole bunch of the showcase titles for a long time," commented Unangst with a measure of confidence, citing a number of high profile Games for Windows braded titles in the pipeline, including EA's Crysis
and THQ's Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
. "So now this fall... this is the time when Windows gamers will get what they've been waiting for... the operating system has matured."