There are probably some readers out there young enough to not know what Games For Windows Live even was. But for those of us who lived through it, we remember: how pointless it was, how broken.
Launched in 2007, it was Microsoft’s first attempt to bridge the gap between console players on Xbox Live and those playing on PC, which made perfect sense for games like Shadowrun and Halo 2, but a lot less sense with epic single-player adventures like Fallout 3.
For most people, forcing them to boot the game and run it through Microsoft’s janky launcher/platform was merely a pain in the ass, but for me, it was game-breaking. I can’t remember the specifics of it (this was a long time ago!), but my copy of Fallout 3 ran into a bug that was related to Games for Windows Live, not the game itself. Any time I tried to play it, at a certain point in the game it would simply crash.
It didn’t matter how many times I uninstalled and reinstalled the game. It didn’t even matter if I did this on a new computer. There was an issue with my GFWL account itself, and it stopped me from getting any further than around a quarter of the way through Fallout 3.
(Please don’t retrospectively troubleshoot this for me, I have found ways to get on with my life in the decade since!)
Not ideal! Thankfully, my 2008 dramas are not a 2021 concern any longer, with the latest update for Fallout 3: Game of the Year on Steam just cutting the whole Games For Windows Live requirement out of the game entirely.
Update 188.8.131.52's changelog reads:
Fallout 3: Game of the Year Edition has been updated and no longer installs Games for Windows Live dependencies. If Fallout 3 was previously installed on Steam, we suggest uninstalling and reinstalling the title.
The title no longer requires Games for Windows Live and will now launch.
Games for Windows Live never really took off, and by 2013-14 was practically dead in the water, as Microsoft began working on the improvements that have led to the vastly superior Xbox shopfront and multiplayer integration we enjoy today.