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Games for Windows Live, often shortened to the acronym GFWL, has been a dreaded piece of software for most end-users. The problems are also too many to list, however, one thing has become rather apparent, in order to get some games running right under the GFWL label, you have to pirate them.
First off, the highlight of Games for Windows Live is that it can directly incorporate into your Xbox Live account, and it can carry over all your achievements, gamerscore, friends list and more. It seems really convenient and a great way to share games via your PC and Xbox 360 across one or multiple accounts.
The problem, however, is that Game for Windows Live doesn't have enough support. Updates are just as likely to completely break the service as they are to fix it, and getting the service to work with games correctly can sometimes become a time-consuming brain-storming session.
A lot of people have been having problems with GFWL in a number of games, it doesn't take long to find out what these problems are, and usually it boils down to trying to figure out a workaround just to get the service working properly. The most common solution has been to simply reformat the hard drive or reinstall the OS. Although, that's not a very convenient solution.
Oftentimes the service is known for crashing, and what's worse it's known for crashing while updating, which can cause many gamers to lose save files or profile progress for GFWL games, as indicated in this forum thread here.
The other issue is that GFWL is a DRM-style authenticator for anyone who wants to play online. Even if you register your game with a serial key you'll have to re-input the key to play online as a safeguard against hackers and pirates. The problem, however, is that online play via GFWL works like an online pass, restricting online play to that singular account and that account alone. If you can't log into the account, if there are problems with GFWL, or the update fails, etc., etc., you simply cannot access the multiplayer.
Of course, this led many gamers to group up and form a petition for Namco's upcoming PC release of Dark Souls, hoping to prevent it from utilizing the DRM-based Games for Windows Live platform, mostly because of a few of the problems mentioned above.
What's more is that the GFWL service wouldn't be so bad if perhaps there were viable workarounds. In one case the service and game wouldn't acknowledge that players were logging in, and in result it became impossible to actually save the game since saved games are attached to GFWL profiles and the profile log-in wasn't being acknowledged. Horrible right?
Well, the real kicker is that so long as you can sign-in to GFWL the problem is no longer something Microsoft deals with considering that they don't troubleshoot third-party games. What's more is that support for games using GFWL can't troubleshoot the service because GFWL is operated by Microsoft, as indicated in the following forum thread. Rinse and repeat that logic whenever this issue arises.
The procedure is so asinine that it led me to test this out for myself, and sure enough if you crash GFWL (which is easy enough by simply disconnecting while it updates) the entire thing crashes from then on and won't update properly even if you do a clean uninstall and then a reinstall. It will work, however, if you rollback to an older version of the software and use an offline profile. Of course, this means that you can never access the multiplayer, or in the case of the log-in issue mentioned above for Batman: Arkham City, you can never save your game, which also means you can never access the game's DLC.
The most absurd thing about Games For Windows Live is that the only way to enjoy the game that uses GFWL is to simply pirate it. The cracked version of Batman: Arkham City actually allows you to save your game, which means that pirates who didn't pay for the game can actually play through it, while those suffering GFWL issues who legitimately paid for the game can't even save their game.
While a lot of people aimed petty insults and anger at the individuals protesting Game for Windows Live being included in Dark Souls, and while the common consensus was "Be happy it's coming to PC" it's a bit of a different story when you actually can't play the game due to the DRM, unless you pirate it.