Yesterday, at the Gamefest 2008 event, Microsoft announced that paying for Gold accounts would no longer be necessary to access all the multiplayer features in PC games under their Games for Windows brand. Viva la multijugador libre!
These features included such things as voice chat, usage fo the TrueSkill matchmaking system, the ability to play against 360 owners, and access to multiplayer achievements. Maybe not the most exciting list of features -- voice chat, for instance, can be easily accessed through other programs on the PC -- but I’ll happily take them. After being so used to free online multiplayer in PC games (excluding MMOs, of course) I can totally understand why people wouldn’t want to start paying for something that they used to get for nothing, which is probably why Microsoft felt the need to make it free (read: no one was buying).
I would not take this news as a sign that the ‘Soft might be considering free multiplayer on the 360, however. Console owners have shown that they’ll happily (begrudgingly?) pay for a well-maintained online service, as evidenced by Live getting a new paying member every five seconds.
Microsoft also announced that PC gamers will be getting their own version of the Xbox Live Marketplace. Again, this news may not be that exciting since game demos, movies, and full games can easily be found at multiple locations across the Internet, but it could prove to be a convenient all-in-one spot to find stuff.
So what do you think about these new changes? Are you glad to be getting more stuff for free, or are you jealous that other people are getting the same online experience that you do without having to pay a monthly fee?