Capcom Prefers GFWL Over Steamworks Because It's Cheaper

By William Usher 2012-09-04 12:28:55 discussion comments
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You want to know why so many publishers use Game For Windows Live? Because it's cheap. Remember the old saying from MS, “If you can make a game for PC you can make a game for Xbox 360” [and vice versa]. Capcom employs this mechanic because they can do nearly 1:1 ports of games from Xbox 360 to PC using GFWL and that's why they use it.

In a “hotbutton” topic regarding piracy and DRM, fans asked SVP of Capcom, Christian Svensson, about some key issues regarding PC gaming, particularly why Steamworks isn't used more frequently over GFWL. DSO Gaming made a good interpretation of Svensson's comments, explaining what he meant when he said...
95% of system calls are identical to Xbox Live. That is to say, if you have an Xbox 360 version, you're 95% of the way to having a working PC SKU, and the calls that are different, aren't wildly different. No additional integration required.

What this also means is feature for feature mapping with console. No gaps.

Native development support, if needed, in Japanese, in Japan's time zone. For getting anything done with teams in Japan, this is essential.

DSO breaks it down rather simply by saying that it's more cost efficient to use GFWL for porting purposes due to not having to pay the team to research or provide additional coding and security required in the game if it were using Steamworks. Some people call it laziness.

This explains why Street Fighter X Tekken for PC launched broken right out of the digital gate. When they meant they were doing a port of the Xbox 360 version, they meant they weren't even going to bother fixing the problems first. Now that is lazy.

Some gamers may jump to Capcom's defense in terms of “Well, if it requires more effort and cost it makes sense to use GFWL.” And that's a fair point, assuming we were talking about a system that actually worked the way it's supposed to. A lot of times you'll see comments or forum posts raging about GFWL and those on the outside looking in will simply attribute it to “gamer entitlement” or whatnot, but the reality is that if you encounter a problem with GFWL, if it crashes, if your profile gets corrupted (which is easier to do than making a working backup copy of your profile), if the update crashes, if the service hangs, if it can't find your profile, if doesn't update properly, if it fails to connect, guess what? There is no fix.

You can head to the official GFWL forums to see page, after page, after page of countless individuals posting problems with GFWL and having no resolve. That's because there is no resolve, there is no fix and there is no patch for a lot of these problems. So realistically, when a company says GFWL is convenient for them, they're also saying they don't really care about the reputation the system has or the fact that it's a detriment to consumers.

Svensson aimed to avoid further comments on how these kind of issues via the community forums, especially regarding Ubisoft's claim that only 5% - 7% of gamers actually pay for their products and how DRM can actually enforce piracy as opposed to curbing it -- and if you're not a core PC gamer, just take note that usually once gamers find out that a product has GFWL or an equally detrimental form of DRM, they pirate it out of protest...
Guys, this is a hotbutton issue. I definitely have an opinion however I feel sharing it is unfortunately too large of a lightning rod that will attract far too much unwanted attention. I think it's safe to say piracy continues to be a sizable challenge on nearly all platforms and I'll leave it at that.

Too late. You got the attention.

I do like that Svensson at least admits that piracy is not just relative to PC gaming. It's an issue that actually plagues Android phones worst than any platform, as detailed in a very informative article at Gamasutra. Consoles also suffer from a high rate of piracy as well, but we never hear about this issue, despite the fact that games like Gears of War, Call of Duty and Battlefield 3 still suffered high rates of piracy on consoles just the same as their PC counterparts.

I think CD Projekt and Valve are still the top industry players handling piracy right, competing with it by offering competitive pricing and value for the content as opposed to trying to lock everything down with imperialistic DRM measures and poor porting quality.
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