Why people don’t like Games for Windows Live
I’ve never had a desire to play online games. I like to play my games by myself. I’m not an MMO or MMORPG player. In the 1990s, I didn’t like MUDs, MUSHEs, or MOOs. I just like playing by myself. However, there is a vast community of people around the world who love playing online. In the past few years, companies have attempted to control how players can play online, going so far as to make single player games connect to the internet just to play the game. I’ve written numerous times (see my Video Games section) about my dislike of this behavior. Yesterday, I read many comments for and against GFWL on reddit. Here’s one person’s summary of their experience. After reading it, you’ll understand why so many people just don’t want this behavior from a company. They just want to play their games.
Warning: long and ranty below.
Oh boy, where to start…
My first experience with GFWL was with Batman: Arkham Asylum. I purchased and installed it through Steam. I fire up the game only to be greeted with a GFWL pop-over demanding that I sign in with an XBox Live account. On my PC. What the fuck.
I now know there is a way to sign in without creating an account, but damned if I could work out how at the time. So I signed on with my existing Live account. It then informed me that there were updates for Live and if I did not install them, I would be signed out.
So to play my entirely single-player game, I was forced to update a multiplayer service. Ok, whatever. It downloads, quits, and… the install fails. I spend about an hour rebooting, un-installing and re-installing trying to get the damn thing to work.
Eventually, I discovered that there was a serious incompatibility between Games for Windows Live and Windows XP. You know, the operating system made by the same fucking company. The only way to resolve it was to manually track down, download and install a specific OS patch not mentioned at any point by GFWL itself.
So finally, I have GFWL working. Except I don’t. There was another patch. Another cycle of reboots. Then there was a patch for Batman itself. Through all this, my choice was basically between “install everything we tell you to” and “don’t play the game at all because fuck you.”
Oh, I also had to type in a CD key to activate Batman. You know. The game I bought on fucking Steam.
But oh well, it’s all good; I got it sorted eventually. Then I got gifted Fallout 3; another GFWL game.
This one was a bit different; I actually had a choice to not sign in. So, I naturally told GFWL where to go stick itself and played without signing in. What I didn’t realise was that the DLC that had been legally paid for would be inaccessible unless I signed in. Not that it mentioned this anywhere. By the time I realised this, I’d played quite a ways through the main campaign.
Well, I was pissed at having to jump through more hoops, but I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to play that extra content, so whatever. So I signed in. And lost every last save game.
Well, I didn’t really lose them; more that because GFWL encrypts saved games for some completely inscrutable reason, the not-logged-in and logged-in save games were not compatible. So I had to start all over again from scratch.
I think it was around half way through the campaign again that Live got an update and I was forced to install that. Because, you know, single player games.
Then I upgraded to Windows 7. Oh boy, that was a mistake. Because guess what, your save games aren’t encrypted based on your Live ID, no, that would make too much sense.
They’re encrypted based on your OS install. Meaning if you install a new OS on the same hardware, the encryption key changes. Which means I lost all my saved games.
For the second time.
At which point, I stopped playing Fallout 3 because fuck that shit.
A little while ago, my old machine died and I built a new one. New install. Naturally, all of my saved games carried over just fine except for anything infected with GFWL. I went to open up Batman at one point to just give it a spin, forgetting it was GFWL until I was slapped in the face with “there are updates to LIVE; if you do not update you cannot play you filthy, dirty pirate scum.”
So I just didn’t play.
A more recent experience was with a friend of mine who bought Fable III on PC. I remember getting an exasperated message from her begging for help on how to get rid of this “Live” crap that was messing up her game. She just wanted it gone so she could play. In the end, I told her she couldn’t and she vowed to never touch another game that was infected with GFWL.
And the other day, my brother got Arkham City Imposters only to find that not only was it a rubbish port, but the GFWL matchmaking (you know, pretty much the only supposedly useful part of the package) just didn’t work.
GFWL is the reason I have never played Batman: Arkham City, Bulletstorm or RF: Guerrilla. I 100% refuse to play any game that requires it on any platform. PC gamers hate GFWL because it is a heinous piece of garbage which exists only to make life more painful.
It is important to remember, those who pirate the games never have to put up with this kind of bullshit. They install the game, maybe copy over a crack, and then play the game. It should be far more difficult than that for a pirate. A legitimate customer should have it the easiest. Buy the game. Install the game. Play the game. Unfortunately, companies want legitimate customers to jump through hoops, increase the risk of heart attacks, scream a lot, and generally be so angered that they never buy another product from the game company again.
Please feel free to read all of the comments on reddit. It’s interesting and informative, no matter which side you take.