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Valve on Games for Windows

Valve questions Microsoft's commitment to PC gaming on GamesIndustry.biz offers analysis of their Q&A with Valve's Doug Lombardi that question's whether Redmond's support for PC gaming is genuine, or an effort at marketing Vista:

"Right now it seems like it's part of the marketing push to help Vista," commented Doug Lombardi, marketing manager at Valve, in an exclusive interview for GamesIndustry.biz.

"To really back a platform is a sustained effort over years and years, so we'll see if in two years Microsoft is still spending money to put Games for Windows sections in retail, and having PR people preach that message that the PC isn't dying, itís actually bigger than all the consoles put together."

"You know, if it were to sign up for that, that's great. If it's going to use it to promote sales of Vista, that's really not good for the industry, it's good for Microsoft in the short term," offered Lombardi.

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62. there is a monster in my pants Mar 18, 2007, 23:28 nomar
 
and it does a funky dance!

 
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61. Re: Doug isn't funny Mar 18, 2007, 14:53 [VG]Reagle
 
Valve is a great gaming company. The made half-life a great game out of the blue. Then they took most of the money and poured it back into HL2. They supported the mod community all the time and pioneered online distribution. CS is still free and allways will be.

Valve is an example of what gaming companies should be. Creston is an example of an internet know it all.


This comment was edited on Mar 18, 15:12.
 
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I am MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH MUCH better now.
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60. Re: Doug isn't funny Mar 15, 2007, 19:56 Creston
 
Bingo. Someone on Blues who actually *thinks*. Congratulations!

There's just so few of you left!

Valve is dead-on here. I know it makes people here seem cool and hip to their geek friends if they hate on Valve, but this company has always been dead on about the industry and what is happening within it

Really? Do explain.

The success of CS, Steam, and the HL franchise is proof of that

Oh. And here I thought you were going to explain how Valve is constantly on the cusp of KNOWING what's going on in the game industry.

Here is what happened with Valve, and why they are so popular.
They made Half Life, which was, and is, a great game.
Some guys somewhere make a mod for Half Life called CS which turns out to be the best thing since sliced bread for nerds the world over wanting to pretend they're special forces who are shooting terrorists. Or terrorists shooting spec ops guys, I guess.

Once CS reaches truly ridiculous heights of success and popularity, Valve buys it and starts turning it into this sequential series of "upgrades", each of which it sells for more money.

That this is smart business acumen, I will not deny. It absolutely is.
How is it somehow this clearcut fact of how they are the deep thinkers of the game industry? Valve made a great game, and then got FUCKING LUCKY that the CS guys made this mod for their game.
Think about it. If they'd (CS guys) made it a year earlier, it would have been a Quake 2 mod. And a year later it would have been a... ehh... well whatever was popular at the time. Valve lucked out on a timeframe and got the most popular mp game of all time on their system. A system, I might add, which was built on top of Quake's networking code. Not really even their own.

Then they basically vanish for six years, until they come up with HL2 and Steam.

Steam is extremely succesful, but how much of that is due to the fact that Valve shut down the WON servers, and forced EVERYONE to go to Steam if they wanted to keep playing? They were hardly the first to do digital distribution, although I know that a ton of people give them credit for exactly that. And despite their efforts (and promises) to "cut out the publisher", Valve is still very much tied in with a publisher, and that publisher still forces Valve to charge a price which is EXACTLY similar to that of every other game being sold.

Yeah, real groundbreaking there.

And then HL2 comes out, and it's a fairly good game. Had it been standalone, it would never have gotten the hype and the blatant fanboism that it did. Had it been called The Freeman Chronicles, hardly anyone would be talking about it anymore. But because it's the sequel to the one game that everyone kept talking about, mostly because of a MOD, it's apparently Teh Best Game Evar!

So, really, where is this mythological finger that Valve has on the industry's pulse? I don't see it. They made

1 great game.
1 pretty good game.
1 rehashed "expansion pack"

and lucked into the biggest Mod of all time.

You'll forgive me if I don't annoint Doug Lombardi or Gabe Newell as Oracles / Seers.

As for Microsoft using Vista to kill PC gaming, breathe life into PC gaming, whatever. People here still believe that Microsoft somehow survives on the 1 million or so copies they sell to the hardcore nerd who plays games. They probably made say 200 million dollars on sales of XP to gamers.
Not an insignificant amount of money, but really, nowhere near the amount of money they make from licensing. Their BILLIONS of dollars of net profit every quarter come from their corporate licenses.

Not from you going to newegg.com and buying a Vista OEM version for 150 dollars.

MS's biggest problem with Vista is that their corporate licensees aren't buying it, and weren't lining up to buy it before the hype started, so until they've got all that shit sorted out (And will pull the plug on XP support, which will FORCE all their licensees to Vista whether they want to or not), they're running a meager marketing campaign to promote Vista as "Windows for Gamers!" since that's really the only thing they HAVE to promote. Nothing else in Vista really is all that earth shattering.

I seriously doubt MS gives a flying fuck about games on Windows, or about gamers on the PC in general. The only interest they have in gamers is the transactions they do on the Xbox market place.

Creston

This comment was edited on Mar 15, 20:00.
 
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59. Re: No subject Mar 14, 2007, 09:51  dsmart 
 
They won't ban you for tweaking your hardware. At worst they'll ban you from the Windows Live service if you're caught with an invalid license. At best they'll prevent you from accessing the multiplayer portion of a game if you don't have a valid license. Either way it puts more power in the hands of Microsoft.

Yep. I suspect that with Live! the OS authetication check will use Windows Genuine Advantage. The same method they use for authenticating the download of certain files from Windows Update and other MS sites.

 
Avatar 9141
 
Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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58. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 22:26 Smellfinger
 
They won't ban you for tweaking your hardware. At worst they'll ban you from the Windows Live service if you're caught with an invalid license. At best they'll prevent you from accessing the multiplayer portion of a game if you don't have a valid license. Either way it puts more power in the hands of Microsoft.

 
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57. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 22:24 Smellfinger
 
Double post.

This comment was edited on Mar 13, 22:28.
 
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56. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 21:50 kanniballl
 
With Xbox Live, Microsoft scans your Xbox to see if you've modified it to play copied games. In fact, you risk being banned from the service if you're found to be using a modified Xbox. I expect Windows Live to function in a similar fashion.

I could see them banning you if you're using some sort of hacks for multiplayer, kind of like how WoW occasionally bans users.

But I doubt they say "Hmm, Ben13 swapped out his CPU. Let's ban him."


"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurmama
 
"Space. It seems to go on and on forever. But then you get to the end and a gorilla starts throwing barrels at you."
-Fry, Futurama
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55. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 19:54 Smellfinger
 
I don't keep up with a lot of this stuff but I'm talking about the Xbox Live-like system that is being put in place in the next several months.

With Xbox Live, Microsoft scans your Xbox to see if you've modified it to play copied games. In fact, you risk being banned from the service if you're found to be using a modified Xbox. I expect Windows Live to function in a similar fashion.

 
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54. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 19:20 Riley Pizt
 
It does no such thing.
He is most likely referring to Windows Live, and on that score he will probably be right. I can't imagine Microsoft not authenticating users' OS licenses when they login to Windows Live as it does with Windows Update and other downloads for Windows.


 
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53. Re: Vi$ta Mar 13, 2007, 18:57 doktor_tchock
 
by the way, doktor_tchock, where's the option to turn off indexing the files on the drive for Vista?

The easiest way is to disable the "Windows Search" service. Setting it to manual won't work, it has to be disabled.

you can see the full path if you click the down arrow next to the cookie crumb

That breaks my workflow for the sake of aesthetics; if I have a lot of Explorer windows open it is much easier for me to tell, at a glance, where each one is if I have the path in the titlebar. And I'm not a great fan of the user-friendliness that's been injected into Explorer's "address" bar either. I don't want to know the friendly path, I want to know where it actually is.
This comment was edited on Mar 13, 18:58.
 
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52. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 18:25  dsmart 
 
Games for Windows will undoubtedly check to see if you have a valid Vista key like Windows Update does.

It does no such thing.

 
Avatar 9141
 
Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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51. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 18:10 Smellfinger
 
It makes guys like me PIRATE YOUR FUCKING OPERATING SYSTEM TO PLAY THE GAME I'LL PAY FOR!

Games for Windows will undoubtedly check to see if you have a valid Vista key like Windows Update does. If you want to play anything online, you'll probably have to buy Vista. My guess is that this is another reason for Games for Windows existence.

 
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50. No subject Mar 13, 2007, 17:34 Tanto Edge
 
Well that spare machine's assembled and I'm installing Vista. Took me a minute to find another copy of the TimeStop utility.

It's an "Application for Windows". Easy to install, convenient, and you get to see porn while looking for it.
Wow.. Vista is fancy... there we go, all extras disabled. Looks a lot like Windows 98, now.

I wonder if I'll pay for Shadowrun.

 
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49. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 14:46  dsmart 
 
It depends upon what "benefits" Microsoft adds to certification

Ask yourself this. What could MS possibly add to PC gaming which would warrant certification? I mean, seriously, its not like we're applying a Band-Aid to a booboo here.

Before they start worrying their pretty little heads about PC gaming certification, I'd rather they used those resources to, you know, provide DX10 compatibility with XP.

This is all noise. MS have done a fabulous job on the XB360 side and even if their PC gaming intentions were pure (I'm not saying whether they are or not because frankly, as a gamer, I don't care) there is no way in hell they could ever hope to achieve one single iota of that success on the PC side. Thats not only a long shot, its a shot thats out of the ball park, past the parking lot, across the highway, way, way past farmer Bigg's cows and clean, clear across the country.

We'll be discussing this in a year and I'll be saying the same thing. XP didn't save (?) PC gaming, Vista sure as hell isn't going to make the slightest dent. Just wait until those kiddies realize that their games are slower on Vista than they are on XP, then you'll see the fireworks. Thus far, I don't think anyone has actually realized this yet due to the already higher requirements of Vista and which cloaks the real requirements of games. Once all those DX10 games start gushing out and start taxing even the most high end Vista riga (Microsoft's own MS Flight Sim X already does that in Spades), then we'll really see sparks flying.

Vista is the equivalent of Windows ME. Its there if you want it. You just don't need it for gaming. Which means, like with Win ME, the majority will stick to XP in the short term but eventually switch IF there is good reason (other than the jollies of owning a new rig and OS) to do so. In fact, its mostly the OEMs (Dell, HP et al) are helping MS push Vista right now because it is shipped pre-installed on newer systems. Those systems come with their own hardware.

While I am, first and foremost, a Microsoft shop, I'm not jumping on any bandwagon just because. At the end of the day, the devs are the ones on the frontlines fielding the gamer ire. Its bad enough that gamers are probably the worst behaved bunch on any given day. So yeah, lets go compound the problem.

 
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Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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48. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 14:12 Riley Pizt
 
I always found this a bit hard to believe because why would any publisher pay just for the privilege of having Microsoft's banner across the top of their box?
It depends upon what "benefits" Microsoft adds to certification. If the program becomes well-received by consumers and Vista becomes ubiquitous, then given Microsoft's past actions it is not inconceivable to think that such certification would be required to have games appear in Vista's Game Browser or some comparable incarnation of it in Windows Live such as for sales and marketing purposes. I know to the tech savvy crowd that may seem like a trivial benefit, but for the mass audience simplicity is key, and if your game is not easily seen or found then it won't be bought or played. If you are a developer or publisher and your games are not listed with the others as one of the "Games for Windows," then you will be at a big competitive disadvantage.

This comment was edited on Mar 13, 14:20.
 
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47. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 13:48 Parallax Abstraction
 
AFAIK, there are no costs associated with GfW certification. I should know, I have the documents sitting here on my HDD.

I know there aren't any costs righ tnow but a few places have (likely speculated) that like with the 360, eventually certification would require a fee of some kind. I always found this a bit hard to believe because why would any publisher pay just for the privilege of having Microsoft's banner across the top of their box?

Parallax Abstraction
Ottawa, Canada
Help Fix The Broken Xbox Live Marketplace: http://brokenxblm.blogspot.com
 
Parallax Abstraction
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46. No subject Mar 13, 2007, 13:39 Tanto Edge
 
Fuck debate folks.
Here's the fact. Vista is Windows. XP is Windows. Yet despite this, I won't be able to play which games?
The ones for Windows.
Despite owning several expensive systems, and multiple expensive computers... these specific games are meant for Windows... not XP.
I have to buy either a 500 dollar piece of shit system like the XBox 360, or I have to buy a convoluted experiment in marketing. Which also happens to cost 500 bucks, and is open to debate on the piece of shit system bit.

PC gaming isn't dying, but Microsoft sure is trying to kill it. Just keep it up assholes, because over specialization is really the answer here.
It makes guys like me PIRATE YOUR FUCKING OPERATING SYSTEM TO PLAY THE GAME I'LL PAY FOR!
Nice logic asswads.

The 360 is a piece of shit. There's no debate there.
You Micro-junkies need to swallow the truth that it's not as good as the Wii, PS3 or even the old XBox (hey, it didn't try to be anything it wasn't).
If anybody feels like throwing numbers at me and pointing out they're bigger than the PS3, I'll say this: Wankel Rotary.
That said, Motorstorm looks better than Gears of War. Graphics. Not gameplay.

 
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45. Re: Vi$ta Mar 13, 2007, 13:36 Cutter
 
We already know that Vista is a totally unneeded and unnecessary OS. This is MS just trying to justify their existence. And it's the beginning of the end for them, I suspect.

Johnny Carmack already said it best how MS is trying to screw gamers with Vista. So yeah, bring on the DX10 wrapper already.


"No no no, I went the other road. Six figures, doing business with leadpipe cruelty, mercenery sensibility. You know... sports, sex, no real relationships. How about you - how have the years been treating you?"
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44. Re: No subject Mar 13, 2007, 13:01  dsmart 
 
My question for you is do you think the big-time publishers (the ones who ultimately decide what initiatives gain wide acceptance) will go for this? THQ jumped on the bandwagon early with this (wasn't CoH the first GfW title?) but I haven't yet seen anything by the likes of EA, Ubisoft, Take-Two et al. that bears the branding. I'm sure they wouldn't turn down free marketing but Microsoft has already talked about certification for PC games that want the branding and while that certification is clearly not very strict (look at any number of 360 games that have needed major patches), my understanding is that it costs money and the publishers aren't going to want to fork out cash to certify a PC game where previously that wasn't a concern to them. If eventually, people will have to pay for an Live Gold subscription to play online (I know this will happen), I think a lot of titles will lost their multiplayer appeal which will also hurt the publishers. I can also see the mod community being all but eliminated too because I can't believe Microsoft would allow user-created gametypes on the Live service as who knows how bugs in those mods could affect their server infrastructure.

It depends. You must remember that this initiative probably got started during a time when games were already in development. It doesn't make any sense to add additional development time to a game if its just a question of marketing. Remember that those triple-A games already get hefty marketing from their publishers, so its not like they're going increase dev time just for what amounts to peanuts (in MS marketing dollars) in the general scheme of things.

I suspect that most pubs won't bother with GfW for the already mentioned reasons. Nobody is convinced. And since Vista is a new OS, why would ANY publisher want to reduce their [already dwindling] PC revenue stream by sending a message that Vista - a relatively new OS - is the way to go and its better than XP?

Ain't gonna happen. Remember, we're talking about publishers who consistently LIE about the system requirements for games, right there on the box, just to get it into as many hands as possible. And you think they're going to, all of a sudden, roll over and play by the rules? I don't think so.

The GfW initiative has some stringent rules which most devs and pubs won't care for. These companies can already afford their marketing dollars and they're not going exchange that freedom at the expense of shipping a game thats going to sell to a smaller group of gamers.

AFAIK, there are no costs associated with GfW certification. I should know, I have the documents sitting here on my HDD.

Do you see this as something publishers will care about or will they just see the assisted marketing and jump right in?

Neither of the above. Everyone is taking a wait and see approach. And rightfully so.

Really good posts, by Lombardi and Smart. I'm still hoping some smart people will come by and write a DX10 wrapper. After all, if a community can continually hack new PSP firmwares surely a much larger community can get around Microsoft's roadblocks.

I suspect that some enterprising gamer is probably hard at work on it. Its going to be no different than what we saw happen back when Glide would only work on 3DFX hardware. What was the end result? A Glide wrapper was written. And it worked.

I already said that I would be highly surprised if a DX10 wrapper for XP didn't show up soon. I suspect that before the end of the year, we'll see one. Its just a matter of time.
This comment was edited on Mar 13, 13:05.
 
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Game developers are just human beings who happen to make games for a living. If you want to hold us up to higher standards of conduct, then go ahead
...but don't be surprised if we don't uphold them
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43. No subject Mar 13, 2007, 12:55 WyldKat
 
Really good posts, by Lombardi and Smart. I'm still hoping some smart people will come by and write a DX10 wrapper. After all, if a community can continually hack new PSP firmwares surely a much larger community can get around Microsoft's roadblocks.

 
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