Games for Windows

Games for Windows is a gaming platform and marketing campaign by Microsoft that dates back at least to 2005, and was revised in 2006. Games for the platform must meet certification standards similar to those of modern popular video game consoles. The campaign aims to make video gaming on Windows operating systems as easy and accessible as on popular video game consoles.

The campaign has been promoted through convention kiosks and through other forums as early as 2005. [ [http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/rail-simulator-attends-leipzig-games-convention PRESS RELEASE: "Rail Simulator" attends Leipzig Games Convention] ]

Website

The Games for Windows website shows information about and links to Microsoft products, as well as links to specific video games, computer hardware, gaming tips, new game releases, bestsellers, and general gaming information about Windows games and related software.

The website has a "Windows Game Advisor" which has some more links to specific games, as well as more game rankings and a registration section which appears that allows visitors to find games that suit their tastes.

Game packaging

Games released on the Games for Windows platform are released in standard Games for Windows packaging. Packaging features include a prominent "Games for Windows" logo stripe across the upper front of the keep case.

In a December 2006 update on the progress of the marketing campaign, Microsoft stated to IGN that "the Games for Windows brand will sit on a stripe across all of the PC game boxes that are partners with this effort." Microsoft stated they had increased their sales of Games for Windows brand games in stores that had been giving the games greater focus, and said they planned on increased marketing efforts of the brand. [ [http://pc.ign.com/articles/749/749845p1.html December 7, 2006 IGN.com conversation with Microsoft] ]

Platform standards

Games which wish to be included in the Games for Windows platform must meet certain requirements regulated by Microsoft. These include, [ [http://www.winsupersite.com/showcase/winvista_games.asp "Games for Windows Vista" at Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows] ] but are not limited to:

*An "Easy Install" option that installs the title on your PC in the fewest possible steps and mouse clicks
*Compatibility with the Windows Vista Games Explorer (see below)
*Installs and runs properly on x64 versions of Windows Vista and is compatible with 64-bit processors (though the game itself can be 32-bit)
*Supports normal and widescreen resolutions, such as 4:3 aspect ratio (800 x 600, 1024 x 768), 16:9 aspect ratio (1280 x 720), and 16:10 aspect ratio (1152 x 720, 1280 x 800)
*Launching from Media Center (Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate have Media Center)

While not a required feature at this time, some Games For Windows certified games are playable during the game's installation, making PC games more convenient and more similar to console games, in that players aren't required to wait until the game's installation is complete before they can play the game. This feature is known as Tray and Play but is only available in "Halo 2" as of now.

Online play

Starting with "Halo 2" on May 31 2007, some Games for Windows titles will have access to Microsoft's Live network for online play and other features, including voice chat, messaging and friends lists, accessed from an in-game menu called the "Guide". Users can log in with their Xbox Live gamertags to gain achievements and play games and chat across platforms (not every game supports cross-platform play.) Some features, including cross-platform multiplayer and multiplayer achievements, require a subscription to Live Gold.

However, as of July 22, 2008, Microsoft announced at Gamefest 2008 that Games for Windows LIVE is now free of charge. This means that all users will be able to access features that would normally be available to only Gold members, such as the features listed above. In addition, Microsoft also announced that a Games for Windows LIVE Marketplace will launch this fall. Like its console counterpart, Xbox Live Marketplace, users will be able to download content such as game demos, add-ons, and gamer pics. Some items will be free, while others will need to be paid for using Microsoft points, as determined by the publisher of said items. Microsoft also plans to make the Games for Windows LIVE interface more PC friendly, and reduce the technical requirements for developers. [http://www.g4tv.com/thefeed/blog/post/687349/Games_for_Windows_LIVE_Gets_Major_Changes.html?utm_source=g4tv&utm_medium=rssfeeds&utm_campaign=TheFeed Games for Windows LIVE Gets Major Changes] ] [cite web|url=http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/53807|title=Games for Windows Takes on Steam, Set to Launch PC Digital Content Distribution Platform|last=Breckon|first=Nick |date=July 22, 2008|publisher=ShackNews|pages=1|language=English|accessdate=2008-07-23]

Windows Vista Games Explorer

Included with all versions of Windows Vista, this special folder showcases the various games installed on one's computer. When a compatible game is installed, the system adds the game's shortcut to the Games Explorer and also downloads the game's box art and content rating information (e.g. ESRB, PEGI, CERO, etc.) for that game through either developers' own game definition files or from information provided by All Media Guide. [ [http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb173447.aspx "Legacy Game Support" at Microsoft Developer Network] ]

Compatibility generally depends on the age or popularity of the games with newer games having better compatibility. For example, "StarCraft" is fully compatible despite being nearly a decade older than Windows Vista. If a game is incompatible with the Games Explorer, the user can manually add a game by dragging a game's shortcut to the Games Explorer (though there is a very large chance that box art and rating information will be missing).

The Games Explorer is fully compatible with Vista's parental controls. Parents can restrict how long a child can play and what kind of games he/she may play (based on ratings and/or specific titles).

Tray and Play

Tray and Play is a technology developed by Microsoft for Windows Vista. It allows users to put the game disc into an optical disc drive and start playing almost immediately, while the game installs itself in the background and streams off the disc with minimal or zero caching, just like on a game console. The first and currently only commercial game to use this technology is the Windows version of "Halo 2".

Magazine

"Games for Windows: The Official Magazine" was the title of a computer gaming magazine from Ziff Davis Media and the Microsoft Corporation. The publication date of its first issue was November 2006. [cite web |url=http://gamegroup.ziffdavis.com/presscenter/pr20060802.html |title= Ziff Davis Media's Official "Games for Windows" Press Release |archiveurl=http://web.archive.org/web/20061107221426/http://gamegroup.ziffdavis.com/presscenter/pr20060802.html |archivedate=2006-11-07] According to Ziff Davis, the magazine is to be a "rebirth" of the "Computer Gaming World" magazine. As of the April/May 2008 issue, the magazine is no longer offered in print and the editorial staff will be integrated with 1UP. [ [http://www.videogamelibrarian.com/2008/04/games-for-windows-magazine-goes-online.html The Video Game Librarian: Games For Windows Magazine Goes Online-Only ] ]

ee also

*List of Games for Windows titles
*Games for Windows - Live
*PC Gaming Alliance

External links

* [http://www.gamesforwindows.com/en-US/Pages/index.aspx Official Games for Windows website]
* [http://www.nzone.com/page/home.html NVIDIA's Official Games for Windows website]
* [http://www.microsoft.com/games/PC/default.aspx?sort=release-date List of Exclusive Games for Windows]
* [http://gameadvisor.futuremark.com/gameadvisor/service/ Windows Game Advisor]
* [http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb173456.aspx Games for Windows Technical Requirements]
* [http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/bb173457.aspx Games for Windows Test Requirements]

References


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