Microsoft’s Games for Windows director, Rich Wickham, gave a rousing presentation to the troops and assembled press horde this morning at a Games for Windows launch event in Covent Garden – down in ‘that London’ (not the pub in Sydney’s China Town, in case anybody is confused).
The main thing SPOnG remembers from the presentation is that the word ‘commitment’ was overused. Why now? Why has Microsoft NOT previously been this committed to supporting the PC gaming market?
This was mildly annoying. Just stop assuring us how committed you are Microsoft and prove it - as right now you are beginning to sound a little like a whining soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend assuring his lady how much he loves her. Really loves her, he's just sorry he's not been so attentive of late...
The second (and more important) thing we took from the event is that Crysis (pictured) and Massive/Sierra’s cold war era WWIII strategy game World in Conflict really do look as amazingly good as the hype's been promising.
Both also play as fast and as smooth as they really should if, that is, you are going to shell out for a new PC and make the required move to Vista that Microsoft is sooooo 'committed' to you making...
Oh, and Geometry Wars on a lovely big PC monitor with mouse/keyboard control is the best game, errr, maybe ever - particularly on a hungover Friday morning when you have the attention span of a gnat and need a fast and easy diversion to ease your throbbing brain into the day.
The other thing that Wickham wanted to stress - in between reminding us of his company’s commitment to Games for Windows as a platform/ a trusted consumer brand/a mark of quality/ a new retail initiative - was that the awkwardly-named Games for Windows – LIVE ‘Gold’ service would be free to those gamers who already subscribe to Xbox Live Gold. This also is ‘A Good Thing’.
And yes, while it’s clear that the PC gaming market needs a bit of ‘tidying up’ in various ways in order to make it far more attractive and ‘compatible’ with Joe Consumer, SPOnG could not help but be slightly under whelmed by all the marketing hyperbole on show today.
The PC section in most of the games stores we visit on a regular basis is in pretty good shape already – although the addition of the impressive PC interactive demo kiosks Microsoft was showing us today would be a welcome addition. It would seem that the US retail situation, in regards to PC games, is somewhat worse though according to Wickham, who told us, “you literally had to get lost in some stores before you found the PC games!”
Still, in addition to Crysis and World in Conflict all the other games on show today rocked which, we suppose, is the point!
While SPOnG feels that the Games for Windows message is still quite confusing and is – as Valve’s Doug Lambardi was quoted as saying at GDC - basically a clever marketing ploy to sell the (currently pretty unstable) Vista OS, we begrudgingly suppose that Microsoft should be quietly applauded for offering its support (read: dollars) to give the PC gaming market a much-needed shot in the arm.
With no further ado, here’s the current list of the major Games for Windows approved titles to date (merely click through the game links on the right of the page to go to relevant SPOnG game page for more info, art and screens on each):
• Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Funcom)
• Age of Empires III (Ensemble Studios)
• Age of Empires III: The War Chiefs (Ensemble Studios)
• BioShock (Irrational Games)
• Company of Heroes (Relic Entertainment)
• Crysis (Crytek)
• Dreamfall (Funcom)
• Dungeon Siege II (Gas Powered Games)
• Dungeons & Dragons Online: Stormreach (Turbine, Inc.)
• F.E.A.R. (Monolith Productions)
• Fable: The Lost Chapters (Lionhead Studios)
• Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich (Irrational Games)
• Freelancer (Digital Anvil)
• Halo 2 (Bungie Studios)
• Hellgate: London (Flagship Studios)
• Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy (Traveller's Tales, Amaze Entertainment)
• The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar (Turbine, Inc.)
• Marvel Universe Online (Cryptic Studios)
• Microsoft Flight Simulator X (Microsoft Game Studios)
• Microsoft Train Simulator (Kuju Entertainment, Microsoft Game Studios)
• Neverwinter Nights 2 (Obsidian Entertainment)
• Night Watch (Nival Interactive)
• Rail Simulator (Kuju Entertainment)
• Rallisport Challenge (Digital Illusions CE)
• Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends (Big Huge Games)
• Shadowrun (FASA Interactive)
• Spore (Maxis)
• Supreme Commander (Gas Powered Games)
• Unreal Tournament 3 (Epic Games)
• Alan Wake (Remedy Entertainment)
• World in Conflict (Massive Entertainment)
• Zoo Tycoon 2: Extinct Animals (Blue Fang Games)
• Zoo Tycoon 2: Marine Mania (Blue Fang Games)
• Zoo Tycoon 2: Zookeeper Collection (Blue Fang Games)