Remember that old economics lesson about supply and demand? If demand for a product rises, the company producing it can raise the price to the point where the supply and demand curves intersect. But when the demand for a product is almost non-existent, the invisible hand of economics demands that price falls. In the case of Microsoft’s Games for Windows LIVE initiative, the price has now fallen to zero. Microsoft just announced today that Games for Windows LIVE will be free for all users (both Silver and Gold accounts), which is the price it should’ve been at all along. Gamertags, buddy lists, and achievements will be enabled on all accounts without an annual fee, though gamers who play on Xbox LIVE will still have to pay for that service.
Check back later today for our interview with Kevin Unangst, Senior Global Director of Games for Windows, who will reveal what other plans Microsoft has next for the GFW program.
Effective today, all Games for Windows – LIVE multiplayer features are now completely free. Achievements, enhanced TruSkill ® matchmaking, cross-platform play with XBOX 360 (in games that support it), voice and text chat, a friends list that is consistent across both Windows and XBOX 360 – everything – is now free to Windows gamers.
This change immediately affects all currently available Games for Windows – LIVE titles and all future titles.
Microsoft will also announce plans to deliver a Games for Windows – LIVE marketplace this fall, which will offer downloadable game content (free and paid, determined by the publisher), demos, trailers and more.
Microsoft is also making the Games for Windows – LIVE in-game interface much more PC friendly, and reducing the technical requirements for developers.