Yes, Games for Windows, the online digital marketplace for PC, is closing later this month. Microsoft has decided to shutter the digital doors and focus their attention more on the Xbox One, even going as far as hiring in Jason Holtman, the former head of Steam's distribution services. Gamers have been encouraged to spend their final Microsoft Points now, while they're still available.
PC Gamer wisely picked up on the news, which comes with an official press statement from Microsoft, as they explain away that this is all part of their new transition away from MSP and towards the use of real-world currency. Although, one could argue why their marketplace would have to close if they're simply changing currency, but let's not forget that Microsoft shutdown the original Xbox Live on the first Xbox in order to migrate everyone over to the Xbox 360.
The statement from Microsoft reads...
“As part of the upcoming Xbox 360 system update, Microsoft Points will be retired, and the Xbox.com PC marketplace will be closed as of August 22, 2013. We encourage you to spend your Microsoft Points balance prior to this change. Although you will not be able to purchase new games, you can continue to enjoy previously purchased content by downloading them through the Games for Windows LIVE client software as usual.”
PC Gamer also refers gamers to a FAQ page explaining how the marketplace will dissolve and how it will affect your games.
Of course, none of this really matters because no one used the Games for Windows Marketplace to begin with. Imagine all the expensive prices of Origin but with none of the support, hardly any games and no sales whatsoever. Typical Microsoft mentality. Everyone saying that the old policies of the Xbox One would be like Steam... ha, just look at how they ran GFWM and you can see just how close to Steam they really were. Even if Microsoft took a trip down Route 66 they would still be miles away from where Valve is with Steam.
Out of this, though, many gamers are hoping that perhaps this will mark a shift in the use of Games for Windows Live as well. For those of you unfamiliar, it's a DRM service that serves no purpose other than to hinder gamers from playing their games. It used to be an awesome bridge between your Xbox Live account for playing 360 games and playing games on PC.
Keeping track of gamer score and achievements from one unified account was a nifty idea. However, Microsoft didn't follow through or offer proper support or fixes. Eventually Games for Windows Live was only good as a DRM blockade and oftentimes had crashes and unrecoverable bugs and errors. It was a mess.
For a lot of gamers, the only way to fix the problems inherent with GFWL was to pirate the game you bought. That's not much of a solution and the fact that Microsoft was never keen on providing a viable solution (especially for Windows 8 gamers), the service became a slap in the face to consumers and an abhorrent joke.
According to a post on Neogaf, GFWL could be going the way of extinction much like the Games for Windows Marketplace. You won't hear any complaints from me if that's the case.
Of course, I should warn you that any game you bought through GFWM may or may not be available to you for retrieval purposes once it does shutdown. Microsoft has encouraged users to direct many of their support concerns to the publisher of the game. For any THQ title you purchased through GFWM, you might be in a bit of a pickle. TPB might be able to offer some assistance, though.