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listen to the mad man
(12-24-2010, 12:30 PM)
Stumpokapow's Avatar

Originally Posted by Rad-

I don't get the GFWL hate. Has always worked fine for me. I think people don't remember what a mess Steam was when it launched. Much worse than GFWL currently.

That's absolutely true. Steam on day one was significantly worse than GFWL today... of course, Steam on day one was also significantly worse than Steam today, so I'm not really sure that the angle is for the comparison.

For all the people saying "I have no idea what anyone is complaining about", here are the major issues with GFWL:
- Profile issues. Signing in on a profile on Xbox 360 (or booting up a 360 if the profile is set to auto sign-in) will kick you out of a game on GFWL. This is true, of course, with Steam on multiple computers (or MSN or a lot of other user profile things), but it's much more likely to be triggered in a 2+ person household with a 360 and a PC.

- DRM issues. Different games have different DRM. Some games (I'll give an example that's a crappy game but it's true for good ones as well--Where's Waldo) are locked to one gamertag. This is a more restrictive licensing system than the 360 and for really no reason. I understand that the newer release games have more flexible DRM in many cases, but the inconsistency is just as annoying as the restrictiveness.

- Patching issues. To patch a game you need to launch the game, sign in to your gamertag, get the patch message, get booted out of the game, download-and-install the patch (which itself requires you to wait rather than having it done in the background like Steam), relaunch the game, and re-sign in. On the other side, developers have to submit patches through MS QA which incurs them additional costs as well as slows the process down immensely. The reason that Valve is able to, say, improve Team Fortress 2 so often, is because no such hurdle exists on Steam.

- Pay DLC / Free DLC. Steam has absolutely no input or desire for input on how much, what kind, and how expensive DLC is. If a developer wants to pump out tons of free DLC, Steam is all for that. MS has historically interfered with developers elsewhere who try to make free DLC.

- Missing features. Steam supports cloud saves. Steam supports backups of your game. Steam has resolved most/all their issues with playing offline. Maybe Epic would have used cloud saving, maybe not. I would assume they would, since Valve bends over backwards to make it easy for developers to do so.

- Serious bugs, technical issues, and compatibility issues. GFWL is less router-friendly than Steam; as in far more people experience connectivity issues. GFWL has had a number of bugs, including client upgrade bugs, that have resulted in a total nightmare or many users. As I mentioned earlier in the thread, installing GFWL breaks Samba shares in most other operating systems and for most media players, jeopardizing your ability to share media across your house. This is a hassle. Maybe you haven't experienced it. Congratulations. Just like not having had an RRoD does not mean that 2005 vinage 360s are a stable, sturdy machine, not having experience problems with GFWL doesn't mean that there aren't serious technical issues.

- No client. Some people don't like running the Steam client. For them, this is an advantage. Of course you're still "running" a GFWL client, it's just only the overlay-style components. It's not like you're saving resources, really. Either way, for those of us who make use of the Steam client--to be able to message people when they're not in games or when we're not in games, GFWL's setup (client for the marketplace, no client just to chill out) is unusual.

- Overlay is less functional. On Steam you can use the overlay to check out a walkthrough, browse GAF, or really do whatever you want. On GFWL, the overlay is strictly for Live messaging and viewing game achievements. Yes, you can alt-tab out of the game, but the impact of doing so varies per game and with Steam you don't have to.

- GFWL is not free for developers, Steamworks is totally 100% free.

- Ongoing support. Compare Valve's record and Microsoft's record on improving their products on PC and innovating features on PC. If Microsoft launches the Xbox 720, will they drop GFWL again? They laid off most of the team at one point and cancelled in-progress PC ports and didn't greenlight anything new for ages. I don't doubt the sincerity of Microsoft's current commitment (just like I don't doubt the sincerity of their current commitment to IE, for example), but there's nothing stopping them from just cutting and running when corporate priorities shift, and there's virtually no chance of that happening with Valve. I don't think this will involve, say, discontinuing activation servers or closing up shop, but I do think this will involve periods of stagnation if the product is not given favoured son status. Also, remember that Microsoft tried unsuccessfully to charge money for multiplayer on PC. While I commend them for fixing that error, I don't think there's anything precluding them from trying again in the future--they discontinued it because it was unpopular, not because they recognized that it was a bad idea. Valve will never charge for multiplayer :p

Now, the advantages of GFWL:
- You get to buy things using Microsoft points. This isn't actually an advantage, because you can use a scrip system on Steam, you have more payment options on Steam than on GFWL, the sale benefit of being able to accumulate cheap points for MS purchases is more than eclipsed by Steam's more aggressive sales, etc.

- You earn achievements that earn Microsoft gamerscore. Of course there are still achievements on Steam, Valve offers developers more flexibility with implementing, changing, and adding them, and nothing is really different. Is this an advantage? Yes, for people who care about their gamerscore. But really it boils down to "We're Microsoft, bitch" and I'm not sure how the 360 version doesn't cover that.

- You get to message back and forth with your Microsoft friends. Is this an advantage? It is if most of your friends are on the 360. It isn't if most of your friends are on Steam. If your friends are on both, it's neither an advantage nor a disadvantage, although personally I prefer Steam chat to MS messages, because I can continue the conversation when I finish playing the game I'm playing.

What all three advantages have in common is that they're all "If you love Microsoft and want to surround yourself with Microsoft's version of everything, use Microsoft Games for Windows Live for your Microsoft needs". Which is fine, but you guys should consider that all of those Microsoft things are true for the 360 version, and if this game didn't use GFWL, you guys would buy the 360 version. That's totally cool and all, but since you were going to buy the Microsoft version regardless, the rest of us are stuck with the disadvantages and don't necessarily make use of these advantages!