Microsoft is taking another stab at the PC gaming market with the Games for Windows Marketplace, a dramatically overhauled digital games store that will finally offer non-Live games for sale.
The great thing about remaking the most universally-loathed digital gaming platform on the planet is that there's endless room for improvement. It almost doesn't matter what you do, because it's bound to be better than what was done before. In that light, I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what Microsoft does with the new Games for Windows Marketplace that will be unveiled in November and I'm hopeful that maybe it will even take a few steps toward relevance.
The new web-based Marketplace is intended to make browsing and purchasing games as simple and convenient as possible, with enhanced search functionality that includes titles, genres and even "dedicated publisher pages." Accessibility will be improved through integration with the Xbox Live and Windows Live services, including support for both Microsoft Points and credit card purchasing, and special "Deals of the Week" and other recurring and seasonal offers are also planned. Most significant, however, is that the system will finally branch out to include support for non-Live games.
It sounds good and, as we've touched on, it can't be any worse than what we've already got, but the elephant in the room that Microsoft doesn't seem to want to talk about is, as always, Steam. Based on the video showing the new client in action, I daresay that it looks vaguely Steam-ish itself, but if it doesn't do something fundamentally better, or at least different, than Valve's hugely successful digital platform, then I can't imagine how it will ever become anything more than a niche distribution service for Microsoft's own games. I guess you could say that I'm hopeful, but not hugely optimistic.
The new Games for Windows Marketplace is scheduled to go live on November 15.