Specialized online gaming networks have been around for decades, since the days of Mplayer and Battle.net, but they have grown into one of the central parts of the online gaming experience. Microsoft has recently attempted to duplicate the success of its Xbox Live network with Games for Windows, but hasn’t had much luck.
Games for Windows essentially tries to be a one-stop gaming nexus on the PC, with content organized by username and multiplayer handled through centralized, unified servers. However, the number of games released that incorporate GFW support is still minimal, and it is this that limits the appeal of the system, according to PC World’s Matt Peckham.
Peckham writes that 2009’s “holiday headline” titles like Borderlands and Left 4 Dead 2 are being released without GFW support, which highlights the weakness of the platform. While he says that the basic functionality – and interconnectivity with Xbox Live – is solid, the dearth of games on the network is galling.
Other gaming services like Steam have also received their share of criticism, in Steam’s case for being intrusive and unintuitive.