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Tycho / on Mon, Jan 26 2009 at 12:00 am

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Further Songs Of Sorcelation, Part Five

I don’t know how much longer we can lash you with this scourge and still retain our alignment.  I would expect a reprieve shortly.

When Microsoft updated Games For Windows Live a few months ago with a new user experience, I downloaded it immediately.  It didn’t cost me anything, and this matched with the announcement that fees had been done away with made me curious about what they were up to.  I was unsettled by the fact that, for whatever reason, users are still unable to activate the Live user client outside a game.  Kiko called me up the day it came out, asking me how to pull it up from the desktop.  “You can’t,” I said.  Silence followed.

The first game I saw it integrated in was Fallout, because that’s what I happened to be playing at the time.  I opened it, and then closed it shortly thereafter.  As a single player experience, GFWL’s primary draw for Bethesda is probably its capacity as a turnkey storefront and rights management mechanism.  I never had a chance to play Universe At War, or I might have seen something like it - but Dawn of War II is the first game I’ve played actually feels like it isn’t fighting with the service in some way.  I don’t have any problem using it, provided it is friendly to me and values my time.

I was checking out this functionality while Netflix showed my son the episode of Mighty Machines where trees are transformed into lumber.  I was surprised to learn that signing in to Games For Windows Live signed out my Xbox, which meant that a Gold Account was no longer signed in, negating my access to video streaming.  Now perhaps it’s more clear why they don’t allow you access to Xbox Live directly from the Windows shell:  because they have no idea how to manage this incredibly rudimentary scenario.

Even if there were a fee for Games For Windows Live - actually, wait a moment.  Let me establish something first.  Games For Windows Live is as empty a phrase as one is likely to invent.  The words themselves seem loath to be together, bound by hands and feet.  Each time I type it there is a prickle in my palm, like petting a hedgehog against the grain. 

Even if there were a fee associated with Games For Ouch My Hand, which there isn’t, I’m already a subscriber to the Goddamned service.  I could understand logging me out if I were trying to steal one of the accounts, or use them in a way that was unreasonable, but as it stands they’re actually punishing me for using two of their platforms when they should be reinforcing this behavior with every breath.        

Is this what choked out their Live Anywhere initiative?  The fact that no-one in this company seems to talk to one another?

I spoke to someone from Microsoft about this very thing, and they said it was interesting, but asked how it would work mechanically.  Where would messages be sent?  Would one take precedent over the other?  I told him that figuring out shit like that wasn’t my job.  Being a contrarian ideologue is pretty sweet.

(CW)TB out.  


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