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Microsoft: Games for Windows Live is not competing with Steam

Live hopes to distinguish itself through Achievements, cross-platform play and feedback system

Microsoft has said that it is "not focused" on competing with Valve's Steam digital distribution and community service for PC.

"We're not focused on how we compete with Steam. We're focused on what kind of value we can deliver to gamers and PC games that make them more desirable," Kevin Unangst, who is Microsoft's senior director of global gaming, told News.com.

Unangst said that GfW Live - the PC version of Xbox Live - presented value through unlockable Achievements, cross-platform connectivity, matchmaking using TrueSkill, and the service's feedback system.

This week Microsoft announced that GfW Live would be going subscription-free, having originally been pitched as a premium service using roughly the same model as Xbox Live.

The company also confirmed that a PC version of Xbox Live Marketplace is being planned, due this autumn.

Despite Microsoft's protestations, that would put GfW Live on a similar trajectory to Steam. Valve's service was built on sales of games like Half-Life 2 and has since amassed a huge range of developer and publisher support, and introduced its own alternative to Xbox 360's popular Achievements system - albeit without Gamerscore.

Unangst apparently believes it's not unassailable, however, telling News.com: "Really our focus is on making the games better, and the publishers will decide for themselves.

"I think what Steam's doing is a good service," he added.

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Latest comments (1)

Mat Bettinson Business Development Manager, Tantalus Media8 years ago
If you actually look at Steam, look at the most recently released games, it's generally a kind of shovelware of it's own. Older games, things that didn't have large publisher details at retail. Games you never heard of, and just a smattering of indie titles.

Ultimately the stuff in the best selling list are the big games, Valve's stuff, Bioshock, CoD4 - despite the high pricing compared to retail. There might be some sizable revenue in that shovelware stuff and the indie games, but who really knows? Valve talked extensively at their media conference about how the PC was much maligned because the data was invisible to analysts. Well who's fault is that? If Valve released the data, we'd all be much the wiser.

It's obviously got value but I do wonder if Microsoft can't carve out a place based on specifically developed XBLA games, ported to PC. Rather than just being treated as an alternative channel for shovelling out full PC retail games?

If Microsoft throw the floodgates open it seems to me all the small publishers will dive in to chuck out exactly the same stuff they're doing on Steam right now. I find myself hoping that Microsoft realises how differentiation may be a better thing for consumer clarity in order to grow the digital distribution business.
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