About two years after Microsoft introduced the fledgling Games for Windows - Live, the company on Thursday released version 3.0 of the online platform, which adds new features such as an in-game marketplace, in-game account management, and new anti-piracy measures.
The in-game marketplace allows users to purchase items for a game from within game, which wasn't possible before. It's part of Microsoft's effort to streamline digital distribution on gaming PCs, which could potentially attract more sales-generating clicks.
After a user purchases content, the system will download and install the content while the user is still in the game. Gamers can also re-download previous purchases if necessary. In-game account management of credit cards and player profiles is also now possible.
Microsoft also said that starting in the fall, publishers will have the option to implement two new anti-piracy solutions. Microsoft detailed those options:
- Server Side Authentication
links the game license to your Gamertag. The advantage of this method is that it allows installation of the game onto any PC, anywhere — only you can access the Live service from the game. Server Side Authentication has no affect on offline play.
- Zero Day Piracy Protection
keeps games from launching before the street date the publisher has set for the game.
The update is available as a free download
Games for Windows - Live is an important piece to the puzzle in Microsoft's effort to keep up with the evolving digital distribution landscape. The system, which also has community features, is up against other platforms such as Steam, Direct2Drive, and Impulse. But Microsoft hopes to leverage its position as the owner of Windows and its ability to tap into the Xbox Live community to separate itself from competitors.