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Wadmodder Shalton

Games for Windows- Live dead, broken & shutdown without warning, 2020 onwards.

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We are all pretty familiar with Games for Windows - Live, Microsoft's ill-fated Steam competitor from 2007 and discontinued in 2013, which tried to bring Xbox Live-like features to Windows XP, Vista & 7, including achievements and cross-platform play between PC & Xbox 360 gamers. Unfortunately, the latter feature was very short-lived with only five games on PC & Xbox 360 ever utilizing it.

Sadly, as of today, the service is now no longer functional or online anymore, as Microsoft broke the ability to re-download previously purchased DLC since the marketplace deactivated itself in 2018, and in 2020 they removed the Games for Windows Live download page and the Windows Live Sign-in Assistant was removed from their servers and therefore the vanilla Games for Windows - LIVE installer fails to install.

Although this hasn't been confirmed, they also likely shutdown the key generator servers for PC games that required the service, which was notable with what happened with Grand Theft Auto IV on Steam, as Rockstar Games couldn't generate the additional keys needed to sell the game, which lead to the multiplayer being removed with the current PC version of GTA IV.

In it's currently broken state, it appears the final activation & online gaming servers for Games for Windows Live finally went offline by no later than 2020, causing all PC games that utilized the service to become permanently unplayable, to no longer be activated via the internet, online multiplayer servers shutting down, new keys for existing games to no longer be generated, and PC games that utilized the service no longer being playable in Single Player & Multiplayer, even with No-CD & No-DVD cracks.

I'm guessing Microsoft closed the remaining GFWL servers down, probably due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which made older software platforms, including digital & physical distribution, as well as the old PC gaming DRM solutions like SafeDisc, SecuROM & StarForce pretty much less profitable, and Microsoft themselves wanting to focus more on releasing their PC games on Steam, the Microsoft Store, and Xbox Game Pass.

It's also possible that GWFL was the victim of Microsoft's plan to discontinue SHA-1 updates from their Windows Update service for Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003 & Vista users, which means that all games on Steam that requires GFWL are now permanently unplayable, and any physical copies you might own on CD-ROM or DVD-ROM are now just paperweights and display pieces.

In conclusion, it's pretty much made clear that Games for Windows - Live had it's remaining services & servers shutdown with no warning from Microsoft, as they have high priorities to redesign the Xbox website to remove any mentions of discontinued hardware & software products like the OG Xbox, the Xbox 360 & Games for Windows - Live for example.

Edited by Wadmodder Shalton

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Have not thought of it in years. Think the only game i had that had it was fallout 3 and it was patched out on steam.

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The sad fate of all Steam-wannabies from those days. Game for Windows - LIVE, Direct2Drive (although it still exists, it was declare bankrupt in the zeroes), Triton (which distributed the original Prey from 2006) and several others which I have forgotten. I don't have much titles that required GFWL and all of them, I got pretty cheap during a Steam or GOG sale.

 

The problem with those platforms were that they didn't have a hit and top selling title to launch their platform. Valve had it in Half-Life 2, which was at the time of its release so anticipated that people were willing to literary do everything in order to play it, including using a brand new system which we take for granted today, which ultimately has lead to a very steady revenue for the company in the years to come. This is also the reason why Origin, Uplay and the EGS exist: each and everyone wants to have a slice of that pie and bundled with their top-selling games, means that they also will have a steady revenue . . .

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It resulted in the direct screwing of a game I loved, when that game's community begged them to go to Steamworks during the closed beta, and thanks to some backdoor deals that would result in the 360 version of the game being buried if they didn't use GFWL on PC, that game was basically dead in about 12-18 months on all platforms.

 

Fuck GFWL. It won't be missed.

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DRM claims another scalp.

 

TBH I steered clear of games that used GFWL after the absolute shitshow that was GTAIV on PC. I lost an entire day of my life trying to get that shit to launch, resulting in my desire to even play the damn thing pretty much disappearing. Even when I DID finally get it to run, it didn't run for very long.

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Humph, I shouldn't be surprised. It never had a chance to begin with.

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On 9/11/2021 at 2:39 AM, Apprentice said:

The sad fate of all Steam-wannabies from those days. Game for Windows - LIVE, Direct2Drive (although it still exists, it was declare bankrupt in the zeroes), Triton (which distributed the original Prey from 2006) and several others which I have forgotten. I don't have much titles that required GFWL and all of them, I got pretty cheap during a Steam or GOG sale.

 

The problem with those platforms were that they didn't have a hit and top selling title to launch their platform. Valve had it in Half-Life 2, which was at the time of its release so anticipated that people were willing to literary do everything in order to play it, including using a brand new system which we take for granted today, which ultimately has lead to a very steady revenue for the company in the years to come. This is also the reason why Origin, Uplay and the EGS exist: each and everyone wants to have a slice of that pie and bundled with their top-selling games, means that they also will have a steady revenue . . .

I think if Microsoft would've launched it with a new PC/Xbox 360 Halo right out of the gate, it could've gotten some traction. Yeah, it got Halo 2 in 2007, two years after the game came out on Xbox; so they really never had an ace in the hole. As it was, it quickly became an annoyance for consumers, and a money sink for Microsoft. But there were still quite a few games that Microsoft coerced into going with their platform, even though at the start the developers had to pay for the honor of having their games on the service. It was ill-guided, mismanaged, and doomed to failure from the start, their complete "hands up in the air let's walk away from this mess" attitude never helped. I think the last time I saw a GFWL login was when I bought a used copy of Prey a couple of years ago. I do have an old hotmail account, so I got it to work, somehow. Not sure if it would work now. Either way, I'm glad, it deserved to die, and I hope it burns in Hell. 

 

But you are right about Steam. The only reason I've been a member since it's inception in 2004 was because I got a new ATI GPU as a Christmas gift from my Mom, and it came with a free digital copy of Half-Life 2. Which I had been looking forward to since I finished the original Half-Life in 1999. But to get the game, I had to sign up for this weird new digital distribution service called Steam, and I never really thought it would take off. I thought "Well, people want actual physical copies of their purchases, right? I can't really see how this is going to work, but oh well, this is probably a fad, and I get to try out my new card on Half-Life 2." Well, looking at the 712 games I have on Steam... yeah. I guess I shouldn't be a fortune teller or clairvoyant for a living.

 

But they had that killer app in Half-Life 2, and they were the first to really try the digital distribution model for games. They don't have to pay for burning physical copies, making boxes, printing manuals, shipping to distributors, ISPs bare the cost of data transfer infrastructure, all they have to pay for is the servers, maintenance, and customer support, which is mostly automated. I'm sure there's other costs, but they really hit on a goldmine.

 

Although I still laugh about how naive we were back then. It seemed like digital distribution would decrease the cost of games drastically. After cutting out the costs associated with physical distribution of media, logically media should become cheaper, right? We would say goodbye to the $60 PC game, and go back to the $30-$40 PC game, right? That was the expectation, that digital distribution would make games cheaper. Instead, having your game connected to the internet allowed the creation of DLC, pay to play, freemium, whatever bullshit they're trying to do to squeeze every damn dime out of people. While still making them pay $60 for data with no corporeal value.

 

And let's not forget what started this:

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Edited by Jello

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30 minutes ago, Jello said:

Although I still laugh about how naive we were back then. It seemed like digital distribution would decrease the cost of games drastically. After cutting out the costs associated with physical distribution of media, logically media should become cheaper, right? We would say goodbye to the $60 PC game, and go back to the $30-$40 PC game, right?

If you factor in inflation, you can figure that $60 games would have become $90 games by now, so in a way it did help game become cheaper. (Looking at an inflation calculator, $60 from 2003, the year of Steam's launch, are worth $89 from 2021. Or, the other way around, $60 from 2021 are worth $40.43 from 2003.)

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Jello said:

Although I still laugh about how naive we were back then. It seemed like digital distribution would decrease the cost of games drastically. After cutting out the costs associated with physical distribution of media, logically media should become cheaper, right? We would say goodbye to the $60 PC game, and go back to the $30-$40 PC game, right? That was the expectation, that digital distribution would make games cheaper. Instead, having your game connected to the internet allowed the creation of DLC, pay to play, freemium, whatever bullshit they're trying to do to squeeze every damn dime out of people. While still making them pay $60 for data with no corporeal value.

To me one of the reasons I think people were so quick to let go of physical media on the PC is because Steam did make games a lot cheaper.  Sure the based price might still be the same, but you know with a little patience any game will eventually be 70% or more off.  I personally despise digital distribution (and largely switched to buying console games at the time as a result), but I still have a ton of games on Steam since most of them were acquired for free or very close to it.  Even the stuff I'm basically obligated to buy as a source port developer, I wait for it to go on steep sale or someone gifts it.

 

Again it's not the sole reason, and more reasons to prefer digital have certain arisen since the mid 2000s (giant day one patches, games too big to fit on disc, draconian DRM schemes, etc), but when you consider that the console stores used to be very scarce on discounts I don't think it's a particularly small reason why more console gamers clung to physical media and PC gamers did not.

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I cracked Fallout 3.

 

But i rebought it last year on Gog to also have the DLC.

Bioshock i rebought a couple of Months ago.

 

When i see that they try to scam me, i crack the Games i bought.

 

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27 minutes ago, Blzut3 said:

Again it's not the sole reason, and more reasons to prefer digital have certain arisen since the mid 2000s (giant day one patches, games too big to fit on disc, draconian DRM schemes, etc), but when you consider that the console stores used to be very scarce on discounts I don't think it's a particularly small reason why more console gamers clung to physical media and PC gamers did not. 

There was also games just getting to big for DVDs, and the complete lack of adoption of bluray drives on PC that made physical distribution utterly pointless. Though it's hard to say if the lack of bluray adoption was the cause or effect.

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On 9/11/2021 at 1:34 AM, Wadmodder Shalton said:

Although this hasn't been confirmed, they also likely shutdown the key generator servers for PC games that required the service, which was notable with what happened with Grand Theft Auto IV on Steam, as Rockstar Games couldn't generate the additional keys needed to sell the game, which lead to the multiplayer being removed with the current PC version of GTA IV.

This has nothing to do with "key generator servers" and everything to do with Rockstar not porting the multiplayer functionality (matchmatching etc.) over from GFWL to some other online service (whether that be Steamworks, current-day Xbox Live, their own Rockstar Social Club...) like everyone else of merit did to their GFWL games back in 2015 when the bells first tolled. Why? Who knows? Probably not willing to pull staff and money away from yet another GTA Online update.

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8 minutes ago, Edward850 said:

There was also games just getting to big for DVDs, and the complete lack of adoption of bluray drives on PC that made physical distribution utterly pointless. Though it's hard to say if the lack of bluray adoption was the cause or effect. 

Fairly certain it was the effect for a couple reasons.  First, digital distribution on PC was already taking hold when the Blu-ray and HD-DVD war was being fought.  By the time it was clear Blu-ray won (2008) I want to say physical PC games were already effectively dead.  If my memory serves by 2009 it was getting hard to find PC game releases that could be resold due to DRM schemes.  At this point DVDs were still large enough (at most two discs) probably thanks to the Xbox 360, and by the time it wasn't people were already regularly building PCs and buying laptops without optical drives at all.

 

Other factors driving adoption of DVD also didn't exist for Blu-ray.  Not a whole lot of interest in Blu-ray as a storage medium compared to USB flash drives or external hard drives, and the Blu-ray DRM didn't really get fully cracked until around 2009/2010 (i.e. to the point where you could buy whatever movie and assume you could rip it).  No one wanted to be the first to release their PC game on Blu-ray, so as a result even games like X-Plane used low drive adoption as an excuse to not do a Blu-ray release preferring instead of cut down the content to fit on 8 DVDs.  Personally I think if anyone bit the bullet BD drive adoption would have followed, but I understand why companies would be risk adverse when digital distribution had already become the dominant distribution method.  I just have a hard time imagining someone that has bought physical media up to that point considering the need for a drive upgrade to be the final straw, especially since by the time the extra capacity was needed the drives were already $50-$70.

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1 minute ago, Blzut3 said:

If my memory serves by 2009 it was getting hard to find PC game releases that could be resold due to DRM schemes.

DRM was a colossal nightmare for disc-based games well before digital distribution really kicked into overdrive. Hey, who remembers Starforce?

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3 minutes ago, Kinsie said:

DRM was is a colossal nightmare for disc-based games well before digital distribution really kicked into overdrive. Hey, who remembers Starforce Denuvo?

 

Slightly modified . . .  8)

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Anyway, I'm not entirely convinced that the GFWL service is dead, because it's basically just 360-era Xbox Live, which is still very much alive and well. I'm pretty sure it's more that the Client and/or DLLs just don't play nice with Windows 10. I'm sure there's some workaround or other to get it to play live side by side with the modern Xbox service in perfect harmony, but I only have a few remaining, un-Steamworks'd GFWL titles at hand to test with and I'm only willing to do so much to play... *checks notes* ...Mortal Kombat Arcade Kollection for 15 seconds of vague novelty.

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23 minutes ago, Kinsie said:

DRM was a colossal nightmare for disc-based games well before digital distribution really kicked into overdrive. Hey, who remembers Starforce?

Yes, but I recall 2008/2009 being the point where the limited activation crap became common place which meant that the advantage physical had of being resalable went away.  DRM may have root kited your computer before, but at least you weren't perpetually renting the game.  (Yes, I'm indeed aware it wasn't a binary switch and there were limited activation games prior to 2008, people just used to complain loudly about it.)

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1 hour ago, Blzut3 said:

To me one of the reasons I think people were so quick to let go of physical media on the PC is because Steam did make games a lot cheaper.  Sure the based price might still be the same, but you know with a little patience any game will eventually be 70% or more off.  I personally despise digital distribution (and largely switched to buying console games at the time as a result), but I still have a ton of games on Steam since most of them were acquired for free or very close to it.  Even the stuff I'm basically obligated to buy as a source port developer, I wait for it to go on steep sale or someone gifts it.

 

Again it's not the sole reason, and more reasons to prefer digital have certain arisen since the mid 2000s (giant day one patches, games too big to fit on disc, draconian DRM schemes, etc), but when you consider that the console stores used to be very scarce on discounts I don't think it's a particularly small reason why more console gamers clung to physical media and PC gamers did not.

I agree. Also having physical copies isn't even a better option compared to digital media, as most games require multiple patches to be playable and once the servers are down, it will be unplayable as it is.

 

Typical example of this is Days Gone. If you get the physical disc and not download the updates, it will be unplayable due to the sheer amount of bugs.

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Only very tangentially related, but I have an old Nokia Lumia 630 (Windows Phone) that came to me with Angry Birds Rio 2 preinstalled, which is no longer in the Microsoft Store (actually, none of the Angry Birds games is).

 

With Windows 8, it was pretty much useless. After doing an offline update to Windows 10, it became kinda usable, and it retained the Angry Birds Rio 2 app. I'm keeping it around because it has a much better 3G/4G reception than all my other Android phone, and it's practically mint.

 



...and I'm sure someone will come bugging me again about the Doom RPG's jar.

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9 minutes ago, Maes said:

...and I'm sure someone will come bugging me again about the Doom RPG's jar.

They existed on Windows Phone?

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3 minutes ago, Gez said:

They existed on Windows Phone?

 

Nope, but every discussion about gaming services closing down, unavailable games, backup copies of games etc. seems to rekindle interest in it, no matter how far removed it is from Java MIDP gaming specifically. Besides, there is an even more unobtainium BREW version, which is what most people really wanted.

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Last time i ever installed a game that used it, it was DIRT 2 quite a while back. Not really used it for anything else, maybe Spore? from 2014 onwards with the release of Wolfenstein the New Order i started using mainly Steam.

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That is the big worry for digital purchases isn't it?  Sure not many people used GFWL so it wasn't too much of a worry when it was gone, but with the exception of GOG, we can't rely on any game being accessible in 5 years, one day it won't be GFWL, it will be a major service that people use/used and for any number of reasons It will shut down.  Until that day most people won't think about how fragile digital products are.

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I wonder how many games that used GFWL can be rereleased through GOG, since they have the ability to remove any coding of GFWL from those games. I know Fallout 3 is sold on GOG so that doesn't have GFWL. I wonder how many games that previously used GFWL are available on GOG.

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you're still able to play games utilizing live, it's just that you have to patch it with a crack in order to get around the drm. it's pretty dumb and annoying, but at least it's still playable

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It pains me -well, not really- to say it, but often a pirate/de-Steamed/de-whatever "repack" of a game is often more future proof and accessible -you know, able to be actually downloaded and played- than the real thing, assuming that you can still buy it legally somewhere, and in an usable form. Especially if the last official patches and the most desirable/popular DLCs are also included.

 

Not every game vendor/distributor did what id did with Doom, keeping it in active retail for 25+ friggin' years. Imagine if the only way to buy Doom legally was e.g. to find someone willing to sell their box of original Doom v1.1 or Doom II v1.666 floppies (or CD-ROM, if you were lucky) then painstakingly upgrade it all the way up to v1.9.

 

Most modern games seem all but dead and gone in a matter of 2-3 years, and often only "warez d00dz" releases sorta-kinda preserve them.

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I do hope hope that GOG launches or has already some kind of "Save GFWL Games" project where they offer to do all the work to remove GFWL from the games in exchange for GOG release of them.

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I've heard about GFWL no longer working when I was watching JarekTheGamingDragon's video on the game Hour of Victory, which it's European-exclusive PC version no longer functions due to it using GFWL despite the fact that it wasn't a necessary or mandatory requirement for European-only and maybe even Australian-only PC releases.

 

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So after some inspection, GFWL isn't actually shut down.

1722604429_Halo2Screenshot2021_09.15-12_04_30_77.png.13b519cef0c013966576442e27be27ea.png

 

The client, if you can wrangle your way around installing it, still functions (on Windows 10!), signs in, and keys for the service still register. My copy of Halo 2 still functions, and multiplayer looks like even still works (not dedicated servers or matchmaking, but IIRC invites to custom games function fine). This is to be expected, as GFWL is actually just an Xbox 360 live service client, and the Xbox 360 is still online. All the games are still visible, it even knows I'm playing on GFWL on my Xbox Series.

 

This, however, has two caveats:

  • The installers are no longer provided, and don't work on Windows 10 by default. There seems to be some service providers that are additionally missing, however one sketch as fuck YouTube video later (I should have just checked pcgamingwiki), I had the installer working and the client would start up. The sign in process took a long time for some curious reason, and the update required me to reboot my PC without telling me, but after all that, Halo 2 launched and even registered fine.
  • The marketplace itself is specifically offline. So while the client and all the services work and everything signs in, you can't redownload any old purchases (if they only came from said marketplace).

So what happened? Best that I can think of, the marketplace component was some weird stapled on system and not part of Xbox Live itself (unlike everything on the 360 which is all one in the same system), and at some point it just... stopped working. But what's more, not a single person said anything. After all, why would anybody say anything? Nobody is using it anymore. Even their most prominent game, Halo 2, no longer serves any functional purpose given there is already a vastly superior version on PC. It's just kind of got deprecated into obscurity. The installers are much the same, nobody ever noticed they stopped working, because honestly, whose checking?

Edited by Edward850

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