games for windows live-1.jpgI’m sure that most of you have heard about Microsoft’s Xbox LIVE video game service that lets players compete against each other over an Internet connection. Similarly Microsoft also has a Games for Windows LIVE service that will let you play against other people on your PC, and starting today the service is being offered to consumers for free. Previously this costed $49.95 per year, unless you were already an Xbox LIVE subscriber.

Don’t worry, I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t even know about LIVE for Windows games. The fact is that the service hasn’t really taken off on Windows despite its overwhelming success on the Xbox. Heck, it’s been out for over a year and there are only 11 LIVE enabled games for Windows right now:

  • Battlestations: Pacific
  • The Club
  • Fallout 3
  • Gears of War for Windows
  • Halo 2 for Windows Vista
  • Kane & Lynch: Dead Men
  • Lost Planet Extreme Condition – Colonies Edition
  • Shadowrun
  • Universe at War: Earth Assault
  • Viva PiƱata for Windows
  • Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War II

So why haven’t Windows game developers been taking advantage of the new technology? What I’ve heard is that they too had to pay in order to incorporate the LIVE service in their games, but that’s no longer a problem. Microsoft has decided to drop all costs for developers as well, which means Games for Windows LIVE is free for both consumers and developers!

This is a very intelligent decision by Microsoft. I have quite a few friends who have been thinking about switching to a Mac, but since they play lot of games on Windows they don’t want to deal with the hassle of switching between multiple operating systems. This is going to be yet another thing to keep the gaming community tied to Windows.

[image via Wikipedia]